In an interview a few years ago, Matt Redman talked about revisiting the use of individual romantic language in songs used for worship, mentioning how this doesn’t connect with ‘blokish blokes’. I do think it’s a good sign that he’s willing to revisit, even express some regret about, some of his own published lyrics.
A caveat, though: using the right meaning is not synonymous with ‘connecting with’ people in the sense in which we often use that term. The point is not simply ‘connecting with’ people if by connecting we mean imitating what their experience is. If it is, we write clichés because what’s out there is cliché; if this were the point, indeed, why not write blasphemies to imitate an idolatrous and irreverent world? Instead, we aim to do justice to the faith in the way that we express it.
Of course, we often frame these matters in terms of ‘outreach’, because we’re rightly very concerned with getting the gospel heard. Sometimes, though, perhaps our concern is more with forcing a hearing for ‘the gospel’ in so violent a way, so to speak, that we have lost our own reliance on the God of the gospel. But right expression, especially in hymnody, is for the believer as well as the unbeliever, for deep growth as well as nets cast wide.