Worship Matters Book Review

“Worship matters. It matter to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshipping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship leader, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God.  That’s why it’s so important to think carefully about what we do and why we do it” (p 19).

Bob Kauflin has been in music ministry for over thirty years and his experience humbly shines through in this masterful book.  Worship Matters is more than a book about how to lead people musically and technique enhancement (though it does touch on those subjects). It continually takes aim at the heart of those involved in leading worship musically.  Kauflin navigates the sometimes fiery world of music styles and preferences with skill by holding to Scripture and not pushing any agenda besides seeing those involved come closer to Christ in order to better minister Christ to others and bring others to Christ.  Worship Matters is a must read for anyone interested in music – whether a novice or a veteran. I give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

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Worship Matters Reading Schedule

Here is the Worship Matters (by Bob Kauflin) reading schedule for all you Oasis music worship team members, worship team “understudies”, and anyone else who is interested.

Fall Quarter

October 28th: Chapters 1-3
November 4th: Chapters 4-5
November 11th:  Chapters 6-7
November 18th: Chapters 8-10
November 25th: No Practice
December 2nd: Chapters 11-13

Winter Break: Finish Reading Part Two (Chapters 14-17)

Winter Quarter

January 6th: Chapters 14-17
January 13th: Chapters 18-19
January 20th: Chapters 20-22
January 27th: Chapters 23-25
February 3rd: Chapters 26-27
February 10th: Chapters 28-29
February 17th: Chapters 30-32

Worship Team Relationships (3) – The Pastor

The final two chapters in the book Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin deal with the relationship between the music team (its leader in particular) and the pastor.  The first chapter, Your Pastor, is speaking to the worship team and the second chapter, Some Thoughts for Pastors, is directed towards pastors.

What I liked about these chapters, the first one in particular, is that it dealt with issues that pastors (and those who lead the church in a pastoral role) can often be hesitant to talk about too much.  It’s not because we disagree with the passages but because if not handled with care they can come across self-serving.  So having someone who is not in the role of the lead pastor, yet is in a leadership position, state and strongly affirm the Bible’s stance on proper leadership and authority makes for a very enjoyable read.  The author does a great job of showing a heart that loves, supports, and cares for his pastor and God’s church.

The advice given to the pastors was both insightful, encouraging, and convicting.  Bob encouraged the interaction of the pastor and the worship team.  He gave tips on how to help them grow, constructively critique, encourage, and give direction to the team.

Below is a general outline of the chapters as well as some quotes that I appreciated and found insightful.

Chapter 31 – Your Pastor

  • Serve Your Pastor (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Listen to Your Pastor (Proverbs 18:2)
  • Initiate (Proverbs 3:27)
  • Grow
  • When You Disagree
  • You, Too, Need Support

“Whatever kind of pastor you serve with, God says he’s a gift to you.  In Ephesians 4:11-12 pastors and teachers are mentioned as gifts from the ascended Christ to equip the church for ministry.  Worship leaders don’t even receive a nod.  That doesn’t mean we have no place in God’s plan.  It just means that it’s our responsibility to support our pastor and not set our own agenda” (p 241).

“Worship leaders serve as those under authority…Our meetings aren’t made up of “my” time and “his” time.  It’s all God’s time, and the pastor and I are on the same team.  But my pastor has the final say about how that time gets used” (p 243).

“There’s probably no more effective way I can serve my pastor than simply by praying for him.  He carries the weight of the church on his shoulders.  He’s the one God will hold accountable” (p 243).

“Listening takes time and self-control…Don’t get defensive when your pastor asks you to do something different.  Find out exactly what he’s saying…listen carefully when he tells you what you’re doing well and what you’re not…Serving your pastor doesn’t rule out taking initiative or being creative.  It just gives purpose and definition to your creativity” (p 244-245).

“Initiate encouragement as well.  God wants us to notice how he’s working in and through our pastors…Sometimes we think that too much encouragement will tempt someone to be proud or to take advantage of us.  Maybe.  But our trust is in God’s Word, not in the percentages.  God tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  he know how much we’d need it” (p 245).

Chapter 32 – Some Thoughts for Pastors

  • Recognize Your Role in Leading Worship
  • Know What to Look for in a Worship Leader (Humility, Godly Character, Love for Good Theology, Leadership Gifting, Musical Skill)
  • Equip and Encourage Your Worship Leader
  • Be Faithful to Evaluate
  • Resolve Conflict Biblically
  • A Final Word

“You may not own an instrument or know how to play one.  But your congregation looks to you to know what it means to be a worshiper.  You are the primary worship leader in your church…Your congregation is watching and listening to you on Sunday, and not just when you preach.  What are they learning?  What kind of example do you provide for them?

If you fiddle with your sermon notes while everyone else is praising God, they may infer that singing is optional.  If you look around anxiously to make sure the technical details are being taken care of, they might conclude that the priority of Sunday morning is the performance, not their participation.  If you sing halfheartedly, they may assume that passion for God isn’t that important.  But know this: your church is watching you” (pp 250-251).

“As a pastor, you feed the church by making sure your worship leader chooses songs for their theologically balanced lyrics, not for their popularity” (p 251).

“Encouragement has the greatest impact when it’s a way of life.  Look for every opportunity to point out what your worship leader is doing right.  Express your encouragement publicly as well as privately…You want people to respect your worship leader because of his godly character, not simply because he has musical ability and can sing well” (p 256).

“God intends your relationship with your worship leader to be one of joy, mutual respect, and fruitfulness.  And with confidence in his Word, dependence on his Spirit, and reliance on the gospel, that’s exactly what it will be” (p 258).

Worship Team Relationships (2)

The chapter on having right relationships within the worship team itself in Worship Matters focuses on the care for one another beyond making good music together.

So often we get caught in the routine of serving that we neglect the relationships within the team we serve.  I know I can be guilty of this at times.  For me, it is easier to “get down to business” and then get out of there so I can do more business.  As a balancing word, we do need to make sure we get “business” done efficiently and effectively, but we should also make sure that we maintain the care for one another and the relationships as well.

A couple other areas that stood out to me were the points on evaluating & encouraging your team.  I would like to take a more active role in doing that not only for the music team but for all those in service.  This way we can continue to improve and build each other up.

Chapter 30 – Your Team is laid out in the following manner:

  • Establishing Your Team – Different Roles, Team Standards, Level of Commitment
  • Encouraging Your Team
  • Equipping Your Team – Theological Growth, Musical Growth, Rehearsals
  • Evaluating Your Team – Musical Presentation, Character, Gifting
  • Enjoying Your Team

Here are a few quotes that stood out to me in the chapter:

“As a leader, you provide oversight for the team not only musically but spiritually…you don’t have to be on staff to care for people’s souls.  It just means your concerns extend beyond making good music.  When it comes to your team members, you’re just as sensitive to the state of their hearts as you are to the precision of the notes they’re playing” (p 230).

“In the New Testament, those who lead are held to a stricter standard for character (1 Timothy 3:2-12; Titus 1:5-9; James 3:1)…[musicians] presence in front of the congregation…implies that their life is worthy of emulation – not flawless, but demonstrating the fruit of the gospel.  When that’s not true, the church gets the message that worship is more about music than the way we live…Worship is not a gig.  It’s an overflow of a life devoted to the glory of Jesus Christ” (p 230).

“Consistent evaluation, given graciously and clearly, pops the bubble of self-exaltation and self-pity” (p 237).

“Being an artist is no justification for sin.  If I care about my team, I’ll hold them accountable to pursue godly character and will help them grow…Their godly attitude is more important to me than their great musicianship” (p 238).

Worship Team Relationships (1)

This will be a sketch of two chapters in Worship Matters in the section Right Relationships. They are the intro chapter, Always People, and the important chapter entitled, Your Church.

Always People

This chapter does a great job of reminding us that the key to our serving is people.  Loving people.  Caring for people.  Relating to people for God’s glory. I especially enjoyed Bob’s pointed advice that if we are serving a church and quickly leave for another church it shows that we are often doing so to suit our own desires and may have not really been seeking to serve and love people.

Key Topics: Taking Stock of Your Relationships, Why We Can’t Do This Alone (Sin is Deceptive, We Need the Contributions of Others, Relationships are How We Worship God), & With One Voice.

“I’ve heard that the average length of employment for a paid music minister is two to three years…it’s disappointing for at least two reasons.  First, it shows that guys are basing their decisions about church involvement more on ministry opportunities than on what’s best for them and their family…Second, it suggests we’re not working through relational problems that inevitably confront leaders.  We choose to avoid rather than solve them.  Whether it’s a pastor we can’t get along with, a critical church, or a team that doesn’t follow us (or doesn’t exist), we find a reason to move on.  God has a better way.  He intends to use our relational conflicts to make us more like his Son.  And in the process we become more effective tools for serving the church and bringing him glory” (pp 213-214).

“The church doesn’t need leaders who love to lead people in worship but don’t love the people they’re serving…Living in harmony takes endurance and encouragement from God” (pp 216-217).

Your Church

This was a little longer chapter than the previous chapters in the book.  And for good reason.  It is a critical chapter that deals with issues that we all face within the church – especially in the serving life.  Reading and learning from this chapter would be a good idea not only for musicians but for all those within church leadership and church service.

Key Thoughts: The Priority of Prayer, Encouragement and Correction (Receiving Compliments & Receiving Criticism), Other Leadership Challenges (Handling Song Suggestions, Introducing and Leading Through Changes, Teaching New Songs), & Precious in the Eyes of God.

“The importance of prayer is something we need to hear over and over.  If we don’t pray for those in our church, we’ll lack power, grace, and love as we lead them.  Pray for the church when you’re planning songs.  Pray for them during rehearsals.  Pray for them as you’re getting ready to lead.  And pray for them also in your regular times with the Lord…Prayer helps me remember what I can’t do…Prayer opens my eyes to God’s purpose…Prayer cultivates care for others” (pp 219-220).

“Even when it’s a genuine compliment sincerely offered, we can feel uncomfortable.  Usually we’re battling the fact that we love being encouraged but don’t want to be proud…Here are some practices I’ve learned to help me receive encouragement (at least better than I used to): Thank the person for taking the time to encourage you…If the compliment is vague, ask for clarification …Express gratefulness for the opportunity to serve…Draw attention to the contributions of others…Internally and intentionally ‘transfer the glory to God’… None of this means we won’t struggle later with pride…The best thing to do then is confess my pride to God and again transfer all the glory to him” (pp 221-222).

“In a word, loving reproof simply means being humble.  It’s receiving correction as a gift from God’s loving, wise, and sovereign hand, sent to make us more like his precious Son.  So pray for correction…Expect correction…Be proactive…Thank people who correct you…Ask follow up questions…Thank God for correction…Alfred Poirier provides this life-changing perspective: ‘In light of God’s judgment and justification of the sinner in the cross of Christ, we can begin to discover how to deal with any and all criticism.  By agreeing with God’s criticism of me in Christ’s cross, I can face any criticism man may lay against me.  In other words, no one can criticize me more than the cross has'” (pp 222-223).

“Leading the church can be exhilarating one moment and exasperating the next.  But God wants to ask you a question: Do you love your church?…We often look out on our congregation and see normal people, nothing special.  But God sees his treasured possession.  These are the people he purchased with the blood of his own Son (Acts 20:28).  They’re precious in his sight.  May they be precious in ours” (p 228).

Healthy Worship Tensions (4)

Here is my last installment for the “Healthy Worship Tensions” section of Worship Matters (but not the last blog for the book).  I’ll give a brief outline, some quotes, and some of my thoughts for each of the four chapters.

The chapters are: (1) Rooted and Relevant, (2) Skilled and Authentic, (3) For the Church and For Unbelievers, & (4) Event and Everyday.

Rooted and Relevant

The main thoughts are: Benefits of Being Rooted, The Rightness of Relevance, The Dangers of Pursuing Relevance, and First Things First.

This chapter was a good call to remember that some of the hymns that we have today are around because they have survived the test of time and are quality.  Yet it also reminds us of the need to also be relevant to our current cultural setting.  The author, Bob Kauflin, emphasizes that these two are not mutually exclusive.

“As grateful as I am to God for the outpouring of modern worship songs, I think the riches of hymnody far outweigh what we’ve produced in the last thirty years.  They cover a broader range of topics, are more dense and theologically precise, and are often brilliantly crafted.  And that’s not a surprise.  The hymns we sing today have been tested for centuries, causing the best to rise to the top…That doesn’t mean hymn melodies are sacred, are the best they could ever be, or should never be altered…most hymns were written as text without music.  They were joined to various tunes until one became more popular than all the others” (pp 190-191).

“The greatest traditions in the world are meaningless unless they effectively communicate God’s truth to the people who come to our meetings…That means 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.  That’s why we pursue worship traditions that are flexible and suitable for the present culture.  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” (p 191).

“When it comes to forms of worship, any form that facilitates and encourages worship in spirit and truth by a particular gathering of people, at a particular time in history, in the context of a particular culture is pleasing to God…let’s train our people to draw upon the rich heritage of the past, while at the same time seeking to communicate the eternal gospel in ways our culture can understand” (p 193).

Skilled and Authentic

The main thoughts are: Can We Experience Skill Overkill?, To Lead or to Worship – Is That the Question?, and Quality or Quantity?.

This chapter points out that both skill and genuiness are things that God desires from us.  Bob lays out the struggle that we can face when it seems we have to “choose” between the two in a worship team.  In handling the topic, he does a great job of lifting our eyes to look again at the point of our worship – the glory of God and the building up of the church.

“All the musical skill in the world won’t substitute for a genuine heart of worship.  But…churches that minimize the need for skill can tend towards sentimentalism, sloth, and pride in their “genuineness.”  God wants us to pursue both skill and heart, like the craftsmen who built the temple…(Exodus 36:2)” (p 195).

“In corporate worship, then, skill and excellence are functional.  They have more to do with edification and encouragement than musical standards.  I want to be the very best I can be so that I can serve others more effectively for God’s glory” (p 196).

“I always stress that being on the music team is an opportunity to serve, not a right to protect.  In fact, if we’re humbly pursuing God’s will for our lives, we’ll be the first ones to encourage others’ involvement.  That means present members might end up serving less or in another ministry.  But that doesn’t lessen their importance to the team now” (p 199).

For the Church and For Unbelievers

The main thoughts are: A Defined Worshiping Community and Keeping Unbelievers in Mind.

This chapter reminds us that the gathering of the church is primarily focused on the church, the regenerated believers in Christ meeting together locally.  Yet, in our meeting style we cannot forget that we also need to care for the unbelievers who (hopefully) will also be in attendance.  This keeps us from being controlled by the desires of the unsaved and yet relevant and meeting the needs of the unsaved as well as the saved.

“We have a particular responsibility to shepherd those who are walking their Christian life with us.  The first priority of our Sunday meetings is strengthening the church…God doesn’t intend for the people we lead each Sunday to remain perpetually immature.  He wants them in every way to grow up into Christ.  So as leaders our job is to support our pastor in his role of insuring that the church is growing in maturity” (p 202).

“Paul challenges the Corinthians to take unbelievers into account when they gather.  He insists that they keep the unbeliever in mind as they exercise spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:23-25)…Being aware of the presence of non-Christians in our meetings causes me to say things more simply, explain common Christian phrases or words, and occasionally address those with us who don’t know the Savior” (p 203).

“Let’s not ignore non-Christians when we gather to worship God. But let’s not allow them to dictate our direction, methods, and values either.  Those have all been determined and modeled by the risen Savior who now invites us to celebrate as a family and to invite others to join in on the feast” (p 204).

Event and Everyday

The main thoughts are: Worship in All of Life, Worshiping with the Gathered Church, and Putting Event and Everyday Together.

This chapter uplifts the need for a corporate time together and reminds us that our Christian worship is to continue every day and not just on Sundays.

“Although there are several Greek words in the New Testament that we translate “worship,” none of them mean “singing.”  Kind of odd, don’t you think?…Most of the Hebrew words that we translate “worship” refer to gestures, attitudes, and actions that could happen anytime, with or without singing…Jesus made it possible for all of life to be experienced as worship in spirit and truth” (p 206).

“Corporate worship is more than a good idea.  It’s crucial to God’s purposes for his people…Here are a few more reasons why we gather weekly as the church: We need the encouragement and support…God receives greater glory…We receive the teaching and care of God’s pastor-shepherds…We’re reminded that we’ve been drawn apart from the world and drawn together to God” (pp 208-209).