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I normally wait till I’ve finished reading a book before posting about it. This time however, I thought I’d post at the end of each major section, there are four. For integrity’s sake I should mention that I was one of a group of bloggers to receive this book for the purpose of review.

Worship Matters is the new book from Bob Kauflin. Bob is the director of worship development for Sovereign Grace Ministries. He oversees their music projects and teaches congregational worship.

The book is divided into four major sections.

  1. The Leader
  2. The Task
  3. Healthy Tensions
  4. Right Relationships

I’ve finished reading the first section so that’s what this post is about.

In the first chapter Bob lays out his case for why worship matters. It matters because God created us to worship him, and he is the only one worthy of worship.

It’s obvious Bob has been in the trenches as a worship leader because he spoke directly to some of the feelings of frustration, discouragement, and fatigue that I’ve at times encountered as a worship leader, and elder, and a youth pastor. He says he wrote the book to address those issues, but also a much bigger one.

Worship is about what we love. What we live for.

It’s about who we are before God.¹

That’s what this first section of the book is about, who we are. Who are we as worshipers? Who are we as those who lead others in worshiping? What he has to say on this topic is important not just for music leaders, but for all leaders in the church.

In chapter two he addresses our hearts. He talks about the idolatry we engage in as leaders. One of the major ones is wanting people to praise us, instead of Jesus. We all like to hear that we did a good job last Sunday, but if that is the desire of our heart, then we are trying to steal glory that rightfully belongs to Jesus. I know I’ve been guilty of this.

As I read a book, I underline and make notes in the margins or at the end of chapters. At the end of chapter two this was my note.

I resolve to have a right view of my own sin, and thereby a right view of my savior, a hope in glory, a joy in his salvation, and a love in my heart for God, overflowing toward others.

Chapter 3 is all about theology. Well, it’s about our minds, and how we think about God. This chapter made me lament the poor theology found in so many of today’s “praise & worship” songs. How can we have a right view of our own sin, and a right view of our savior, if the songs we sing are teaching a wrong view of those things? I think the standards he presents in this chapter, for our corporate worship music, should be applied to any “christian” music you listen to.

In chapter 4 Bob tackles the issue of musical skill. He makes the case that skill matters to God, so it should matter to us as well. In some churches this can be a real issue. I’ve heard worship bands with musicians and singers who were so lacking in skill that it wasn’t helping anybody worship. On the other hand, having lived in Nashville for several years, I’ve heard worship bands that were so focused on skill that it felt like I was watching a performance rather than being led in worship.

This issue is an important one. Bob makes the point that

Skill is a Gift from God, for His Glory.²

The biggest thing I see, to often, is worship bands with poor timing, and everyone not playing the same chords at the same time. These are basic things, musically. If the band had rehearsed and developed their skill enough to play together, in time, it would greatly increase their effectiveness in leading worship. Of course, we need to keep in mind Kauflin’s warning from this chapter not to idolize skill. He has good insights into why skill is important, and how it helps us lead worship.

Chapter 5, the last chapter in this section of the book, has to do with integrity. It’s about how we live our lives. You might wonder what that has to do with leading worship on Sunday morning, Kauflin makes the point that is has everything to do with it.

It’s not my songs that define my worship; it’s my life.³

He encourages us to model personal integrity, a lifestyle of worship, and to take responsibility for our words, in church and out of church.

I’ve got to say that reading this much of the book changed the way I approached leading worship the last two Sundays. Hopefully it changed the way I worshiped and thus changed the way other members of the body worshiped as well.

Here is a short YouTube clip of Bob talking about this first section of the book.

  1. Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters (Crossway Books, 2008),  p.17
  2. ibid, p. 34
  3. ibid, p. 45