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Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encountering the Greatness of God. By Bob Kauflin. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.
Refreshing! That’s the first word that comes to mind when reflecting on Kauflin’s book. I can’t recall how many times I said “YES!” in my spirit as I read through this volume. I think what resonated with me the most is that it is clear that Kauflin approaches the subject of worship first from Scripture and theology rather than from music or culture, from the pastoral perspective rather than the musician perspective. That’s not to say Kauflin is not highly informed and experienced in music as a musician. It’s only to say that truth guides his methodology.
There’s no way to reduce some of my favorite quotes from this book. The pages are filled with underlines and check marks! However, it is worth quoting here how Kauflin defines the role of a worship leader. “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” (p.55). That’s one of those places where I said “YES”! He spends the next ten chapters unpacking this definition line by line. It is clear through these pages that Kauflin is advocating God-centered, Word-driven, theologically sound, Spirit filled corporate worship! That is the primary big plus.
The second big plus is that Kauflin is well-balanced in both theology and methodology. Concerning his theology, just take a look at his bibliography! It’s not just list of books on worship, even though it contains the best in that category. He also recommends great theology and doctrine books as well. Concerning his methodology, Kauflin is very aware of all the extremes that have appeared on the church music scene; the preferences, the generational gaps, the various styles, diversity of songs, etc. All of these have contributed in one way or another to what is commonly called the “worship wars.” Kauflin spends an additional 10 chapters providing sound guidelines for navigating through tensions to reach a healthy, biblical balance.
Three additional pluses are worth mentioning. First, I so appreciate Kauflin’s approach to song selection. Some songs are better than others in communicating truth. Kauflin’s willingness to not use a song, even though it is a popular Christian radio tune, says much about what he believes about his purpose as a worship leader (see his four categories on p. 110). Second, Kauflin demonstrates a high appreciation for both ancient and modern. There is much to glean from our rich history of hymnody and God still moves upon His people today to compose sound, enriching lyrics and songs. Third, I have to say it again, Kauflin approaches this subject from a pastoral perspective. By that I mean, his goal is to shepherd God’s people through worship in song to know, love, and trust God.
Worship Matters is written with worship leaders in mind, but I couldn’t help but think as I read through these pages, how valuable this well-informed, well-balanced theology and philosophy of worship would benefit every church leader and every church member.