Worship Planning: Just As I Am

Charlotte Elliott
Charlotte Elliott
Words: Charlotte Elliot
Music: William Bradbury
Key: D major
Time Sig: 6/4
Tempo: 122 BPM
CCLI #: 5253225 | [copy]

“Just As I Am” has been drawing people to the altar and into the arms of Jesus for nearly two centuries. Written by Charlotte Elliott way back in 1835, “Just As I Am” is a staple in churches across the globe, and for good reason. Its simple yet profound lyrics speak straight to the heart, reminding us that we can come to the Savior exactly as we are – no pretenses, no striving, just raw honesty and faith.

Hymn History: Just As I Am

Charlotte grew up in a strong Christian family, but as a young woman she struggled with feeling useless and depressed, especially after becoming disabled from illness at age 32. But then she met a wise minister who encouraged her to come to Christ “just as you are.” Those simple yet profound words inspired Charlotte to later write the lyrics to “Just As I Am,” pouring out her heart’s cry for salvation and acceptance.

In 1849, composer William Bradbury wrote the moving tune we now know as WOODWORTH, which was a perfect match for Charlotte’s lyrics. In the 20th century, the great evangelist Billy Graham adopted “Just As I Am” as his signature altar call song, and it became the global anthem that invited millions to experience the love and grace of Jesus.

The lyrics speak to the doubts and fears we all face, but remind us that we can come to the Savior without pretense, just as we are, and find forgiveness and peace in Him. What a timeless message of hope!

So worship leader, as you introduce this hymn to your team and church, take a moment to share the incredible story behind it. Let them know that the same faith that carried Charlotte through her trials is the faith that will carry us today. Then as your band begins to play this fresh arrangement, lead your congregation in lifting their voices to proclaim:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Call to Worship

In a world that often feels uncertain and chaotic, there is One who remains constant and true: our unchanging God. The same God who inspired Charlotte Elliott to pen these timeless words nearly 200 years ago is here with us now, ready to meet us in our brokenness and love us back to life.

No matter what doubts, fears, or burdens we carry today, we can bring them to Jesus. We don’t have to hide our struggles or clean ourselves up first. We can come just as we are, trusting that His arms are open wide to welcome us home.

So come, weary and heavy-laden. Come, lost and lonely. Come, broken and ashamed. Come, whoever you are and whatever you’ve done. The Savior is waiting to embrace you with His unfailing love and boundless grace.

Lead with Confidence

As you lead your church in singing ‘Just As I Am,’ know that you are joining a chorus of believers across generations who have found hope and healing in its timeless truth. May this hymn be a catalyst for life-changing encounters with God’s grace, as people come to Jesus just as they are and find the acceptance and love they’ve been longing for.

Blending Suggestions

Try using Just As I Am in your worship set with these songs that fit thematically:

  • Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. This powerful anthem celebrates the incredible depth of God’s love for us. “Just As I Am” invites us to come to God in our brokenness, “Reckless Love” reminds us that God’s love chases after us relentlessly, no matter how far we may wander.
  • O Come To The Altar by Elevation Worship. With its warm, welcoming chorus and its message of God’s open arms, this song beckons us to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, knowing that He is always ready to receive us.
  • Jesus Paid It All by Kristian Stanfill. At the heart of “Just As I Am” is the recognition that we cannot cleanse ourselves – we need the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins. “Jesus Paid It All” is a triumphant declaration of this same truth. As we sing these lyrics, we’re reminded of the incredible price Christ paid on our behalf, and the new life we have in Him.
  • Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin is yet another contemporary worship song that carries the essence of “Just As I Am.” The hymn portrays God as the “Lamb of God” who can “cleanse each spot” and “pardon, cleanse, relieve.” In the same way, “Good Good Father” celebrates God’s loving and forgiving nature, describing Him as a perfect Father who knows our deepest needs and loves us without condition. Both the classic hymn and the modern chorus give us a glimpse of a compassionate, welcoming God.

Hymns can be tricky for younger generations. Remember to explain any archaic words, and cast vision for why these timeless songs are worth preserving.

When we invest in leading hymns well, we open the door for our congregations to experience the richness of our spiritual heritage and the boundless grace of our Savior.