I have recently come into possession of a number of new Crossway titles, several of which are well worth reading. The first is pastor and musician Bob Kauflin’s book on worship, Worship Matters (Crossway, 2008). Here’s a synopsis of the book from the foreword: “In Worship Matters, Bob leads us skillfully through the Scriptures and through his experiences to better understand the why and how of biblical worship, regardless of the style or form.” (11) The point, then, is not to cover the exact shape that biblically informed worship will take, but the reasons for its existence.
The book breaks down into four main parts: the leader, the task, healthy tensions, and right relationships. There are all kinds of helpful points to be found in these sections, as one would expect from a book written by a former professional musician who has a great passion for God-exalting congregational musicality. On one page Kauflin gives suggestions for chord progressions; on another he writes about the proper balance between tradition and innovation. On relevance, for example, he writes that “we need to ask whether the songs, words, arrangements, visuals, expressions, and traditions we’re using are saying the things we want them to say–and whether people actually understand what we’re saying.” (191) After all, Kauflin notes, “we want to proclaim the unchanging gospel in ways our culture can comprehend, ways that will make it easy for people to perceive who Jesus Christ is and how he has changed us.” (191) This is an excellent point to highlight, for it shows how Kauflin combines freshness–which we desperately need–with faithfulness, which is obviously our greatest concern as worshippers of the living God.
I think that you should buy the book. Read it and get a better taste of what biblical worship stems from and looks like in the life of the local church. Learn from a man who has sung in the popular Christian a capella group GLAD, who leads thousands of worshippers each week at Covenant Life Church, one of my favorite churches, and who blends humble piety with wise reflection. If you’re in a church, give it to your staff. Wayne Grudem, for his part, notes that “The next time I teach on worship, I plan to make this the required text.” Bruce Ware says that “Kauflin provides an array of insights and instruction…all of which are wrapped in an overarching theology of the triune God, the gospel of grace, and the centrality of the cross.”
Read it for the edification of your own spiritual life, and for the edification of the body whose central task is nothing other than worship of our majestic God.