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It’s been a while since I blogged about the first part of this book. I’ve now finished reading it entirely and will blog about each remaining section.

Worship Matters is a 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: The Leader, The Task, Healthy Tensions, and Right Relationships.

It is the second division, The Task, which I’ll take up in this post.

The twelve chapter comprising this section of the book seek to answer the question, “What does a worship leader do?”

Kauflin has developed a working job description for the worship leader, a term he doesn’t seem well pleased with. He rightly points out that worship is so much more than just music, that to call the music leader a “worship” leader is somewhat misleading, and could possible lead to a wrong view of the role of music within the church.

Still, he’s writing the book for those who lead music in churches, hence the following job description.

A faithful worship leader
magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ
through the power of the Holy Spirit
by skillfully combining God’s word with music,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to proclaim the gospel,
to cherish God’s presence,
and to live for God’s glory. ¹

Each following chapter in this section expounds a line, or phrase, in that definition.

He makes the point that our faithfulness is to God and His Word. That means we must look to God to define our ministry, not ourselves. It means our #1 goal must always be to point people to Jesus. It means we won’t always be appreciated. I think this is true of any church leader who demonstrates faithfulness to the gospel.

Kauflin suggests that our songs should be specific in magnifying the Lord.

If most of our songs could be sung by Buddhists, Muslims, or Hindus, it’s time to change our repertoire. ²

He suggests that worship leaders should be reading theology to increase their knowledge of God through the study of His Word, so they can rightly point others to the God of the Bible. Our leadership should be characterized by a strong affections for God, built on the firm foundation of Biblical truth.

He points out that only Jesus can lead us into the presence of the Father, and that worship is only possible as a result of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement. We need not only a right view of who God is, but also a right view of just how sinful we are, and how central the gospel is to our lives. We worship God in Christ. Apart from Christ there is no worship of God. The gospel should be preeminent in our worship.

One sentence that really struck me in regard to Christ’s role in our worship, was this…

It’s not the excellence of our offering that makes our worship acceptable but the excellence of Christ. ³

And his excellence is what we should be proclaiming as we worship.

This chapter put me in mind of Adoniram Judson returning to America after 30 years on the mission field and sharing the gospel at a church in Boston, because he felt there was no story more compelling and worthy of being told, than that of Christ’s glorious gospel.

One chapter was devoted to the work of the Holy Spirit during our worship. This was an interesting, and challenging, chapter for me. I come from a background where physical expression is very limited during worship. I’m not all that comfortable with charismatic expression during worship. I’m sure it’s partly reactionary to those charismatics I have been around, who I perceived to be inauthentic, and merely play acting. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work in my heart and mind to allow me to be freer during worship.

Kauflin quotes, and agrees with, John Stott, stating that our worship is true only when it is in response to the Word of God. Which led me to ponder if we shouldn’t be doing the bulk of our singing after the sermon? After all, the NT example has the church singing while departing from being gathered.

He also addressed the idea that songs, worship songs sung by Christians in church, are “de facto theology.” Therefore our song selections should adhere to sound doctrine. This is an issue close to my own heart. I am saddened by the poor theology evidenced in many of today’s worship songs, even those sung in the traditionally conservative and Biblically faithful PCA. There are songs we do at church (I don’t lead the music regularly, only when our pastor is out of town) that I just won’t sing because the theology is so wrong. Others are simply shallow. Most are ME focused instead of GOD focused. I wish more worship leaders would read this section of Kauflin’s book.

He also addresses the music itself, touching on stylistic choices, instrumental solos, the size and instrumentation of the team, and how the music affects our emotions. He then speaks to the issue of planning. He encourages planning ahead, carefully, creatively, and prayerfully.

He ends this section by teaching us how music can properly teach, and remind, us of the gospel and so change our lives. Music is a powerful force in people’s lives, using it for God’s glory should be our ultimate aim as worship leaders.

  1. Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters (Crossway Books, 2008),  p.55
  2. ibid, p.62
  3. ibid, p.75