Review: Worship Matters

Kauflin, Bob. Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Readability: Moderate

I recently have begun leading our church during our singing in worship. While I have done this before in a small church setting, I knew I needed to think more deeply through what it is we are doing during that time, and specifically how I can better guide the hearts of those present to encounter the living God. Bob Kauflin’s book has set on my shelf for years, unread, but highly recommended by several people that I respect. It was time to read it.

Kauflin first examines the leader, refusing as is common today to simply accept a worship leader (music leader, music minister, etc.) to be someone who knows music and is willing to do it. In the second portion he defines what a worship leader must do, unpacking his definition phrase by phrase.

A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit 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.

Part three deals with healthy tensions that must be kept in balance, such as the internal and external elements of worship, the planned and the spontaneous, and the connection between the head and the heart. Quite often making these either/or issues will get a church in trouble, and it was helpful to me to be reminded that it is not one or the other, but both. Finally, the last chapter deals with relationships.

Along the way, Kauflin does an excellent job of balancing convictional and practical elements. Some of those practical elements include song selection, dealing with disagreements on music elements, and the teaching new songs. He is at his best when he is reminding the reader that the emphasis in worship must always be focused on God in Christ as revealed in his Word. Here is a good nugget to peak your interest:

If our leadership focuses on musical experiences, we’ll reap a desire for better sounds, cooler progressions, and more creative arrangements. If we sow to immediate feelings, we’ll reap meetings driven by the pursuit of emotional highs. If we lead in such a way that we’re the center of attention, we’ll reap a man-centered focus, shallow compliments, and ungodly comparisons.

On the other hand, if we sow to God’s glory in Christ, we’ll reap the fruit of people in awe of God’s greatness and goodness. But to do that we must faithfully paint a compelling, attractive, biblical picture of the Savior.

God isn’t hiding from us, waiting to see if we’ll find the right combination to unlock his blessing. He is eager to work through us as we faithfully lead our church into a clearer understanding of his glory.

While this book is helpful on so many fronts, there are a few weak spots. First, Kauflin writes from the perspective of a large church, so if you are in a small church environment, there is some translation that has to take place with some of the practical matters. However, this is a small matter. Secondly, Kauflin writes as one who is a continuationist in regards to the charismatic spiritual gifts though he recognizes the differing positions on this issue and does not play up this position in the book.

This was the book I needed in helping me to clarify my role in leading worship. I heartily recommend it to anyone who fills a similar capacity in their church. It would do great benefit for a pastor and worship leader to read together. This book also holds great value for anyone desiring a better understanding of what we are doing when we worship in music together as a church. Everyone from the pianist, praise teams singers, choir members, sound techs, and everyone in the pew would find benefit from this book.


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