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).