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“Worship Matters”—Book review

What did you want to be when you grew up?Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin

I wanted to be a wife. A mom. A teacher. A believer.

But somewhere along the way (after I became a Christian wife, mom, and teacher), I had an epiphany of what I really wanted to be.

Along with the other roles, what I really wanted to be was a God-worshiper.

A passionate, single-focused worshiper. If everything else were stripped away, I wanted to be left as that. 

But what would that look like?
I wasn’t exactly sure.

I’ve been trying to figure it out ever since.

It doesn’t come naturally to my flesh. My base nature chooses to love me before I love God—“Please me; make me feel good; make me look good.”

The Bible is so full of worship scriptures and examples and commands that I get overwhelmed. I need guidance.

So books like Allen P. Ross’s Recalling the Hope of Glory (I highly recommend it!) and now this one, Bob Kauflin’s Worship Matters, help focus my thoughts. 

Here’s what you might think about this book:
If I’m not a worship leader in a church, it’s not written for me.

But here’s what you need to know: 
If you’re a worshiper of God, this is written for you. 

Granted, some sections are specifically applicable to “worship leaders.” But if you want to grow in your personal worship of God, and want to help others do the same (your kids, your spouse…), almost all of this book will be helpful.

It’s organized into four sections:

  • Part 1: The Leader

But that doesn’t exclude anyone. He addresses issues like: what’s most important to you? What are you believing? How are you practicing worship?

  • Part 2: The Task

This applies to all of us, too; we’re all called to worship.

His working definition for the officially-titled worship leader is this, but, frankly, by deleting a few words here and there, it’s also the call of each one of us, every day, in everything we do:

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.

This section also includes why worship should be Word-centered and how music is most helpful when it serves the lyrics instead of the reverse.

  • Part 3: Healthy Tensions

Here Kauflin addresses issues that often split a congregation involved in worship wars: degrees of reverence; academic versus emotional; expressiveness in worship; vertical and horizontal elements; planned versus spontaneous; for the church or for unbelievers; etc.

His three guiding principles in making decisions in those areas are:

1) Do what God clearly commands.
2) Don’t do what God clearly forbids.
3) Use scriptural wisdom for everything else.

  • Part 4: Right Relationships

This section addresses human relationships within the church and how that affects our corporate worship, ending with the specific relationship between a worship leader and his pastor. It was a little harder to make that last chapter personally applicable, but in many ways, even it was.

Kauflin ends with an extensive bibliography of recommended reading. Some asterisked choices include:

  • Worship by the Book, D.A. Carson
  • Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, David Peterson
  • Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation, Allen P. Ross
  • Knowing God, J. I. Packer
  • The Cross of Christ, John Stott
  • God’s Big Picture, Vaughan Roberts
  • Humility: True Greatness, C. J. Mahaney
  • When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper
  • The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Arthur Bennett, ed. 

Because Worship Matters includes many inspiring thoughts, I’ll keep quoting from it for awhile (see “Sing through Sorrows,” “Do you use music?,” “It has to be God”).

Because, well, worship matters.

* * *

Among other roles, Bob Kauflin is currently a worship leader at Covenant Life Church, after singing in the 70s/80s with the contemporary Christian group GLAD, and later pastoring a church.

Bookmark his blog for more reasons why worship matters and what to do about it.


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