I’ve been reading Bob Kauflin’s book Worship Matters and have just finished chapter six. I have been recommended to read the book by many and I agree with their recommendation. The book is a great blessing thus far and I have high expectations to continue to be challenged and grown by Kauflin wisdom and experience. This post in by no means an attack or a rant against my one disagreement with Bob Kauflin, so far. It’s just a journal entry as I wrestle through the place God has me in my transformation by the renewing of my mind.
In chapter six Kauflin address the often seemingly equivalence with using the word “worship” when we mean corporate worship through music. He addresses it in the specific context of the “worship leader” by quoting D.A. Carson:
I would abolish forever the notion of a “worship leader.” If you want to have a “song leader” who leads part of the worship, just as the preacher leads part of the worship, that’s fine. But to call the person a “worship leader” takes away the idea that by preaching, teaching, listening to and devouring the word of God, and applying it to our lives, we are somehow not worshipping God. **
Kauflin goes on to commend Carson on his point and expand on the quote stating:
If the individual leading the singing is the “worship” leader, it can imply we aren’t worshipping God during the rest of the meeting. But activities such as praying for others, giving financially, and studying God’s Word together are also acts of worship that bring glory to God. **
He continues by portraying what I interpret as an awkwardness we experience from trying to break away from the cultural tie to calling our music leader “worship leader.” He then states:
And while I agree with Carson’s perspective, I don’t think we have to lose the term worship leader. **
I disagree. I’m going to take a step back and present my thoughts from a more general perspective. I routinely find Christians referring to music during a corporate or small group setting as worship. “Will we have worship tonight at small group?” “Let’s do the announcements after the worship.”
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
These are my favourite two versus in scripture and I think that they will ground my opinion well. I have no idea why we started to call tie our music time to “worship”. I have my theories, but I won’t waste your time. In the beginning of chapter six Kauflin suggests that those born after 1980 are too young to remember how it happened. Fair enough, I was born after ’80. But I don’t care where it came from, I ‘d like to question why we should keep it. I believe that Romans 12 is the best description of worship I’ve experienced. To sacrifice our bodies holy and pleasing requires that we are in obedience to Christ seeking sanctification as our bodies are in service to His Glory. That is our spiritual worship. Further our worship is meant to test and discern the will of God. Kauflin has already made the case for me that there are other things that we do to worship God during our corporate worship other than sing and play music. If we line up the use of the word worship to refer to the time we play music next to the list of other ways to worship God Kauflin presents next to Romans’ definition of worship I think you’ll find that “one of these things is not like the other things.” There’s a quote for those of you born after 1980 you should remember from Sesame Street. So lets do some discerning here and realize that the use of the word worship as Kauflin suggests we can continue takes the word worship out of its proper context. I challenge you to consider how it could very easily mislead both believers and non-believers who are not familiar with the surfacey equivalence that our verbage superimposes around our corporate worship through music and true worship.
Honestly I have wrestled with this since I began attending the church we’re about to join since our move last July ’08. Now that we’ve stepped out of a fellowship that shares the same practices as I believe I often am discouraged by its seemingly equivalence. I’m curious how nievely it’s used like that. I believe the church is solid and this is not an issue to raise up in arms about. Again I use such strong words to get thoughts and feelings out, not to discount anyone.
I’ll conclude with my proposed solution. Otherwise I feel like I would just be complaining. I agree with Kauflin that when we meet together in obedience to Hebrews 10 it’s sometimes awkward to reference our time of music as something other than worship. I challenge you to call the music exactly what it is. If you’re singing a cappella then maybe call it singing. If you’re using instruments maybe call it music. If you want to refer to the music as worship call it worshipping through music. How often do we say something like “lets continue our worship as we study God’s word.” Well, “lets continue our worship as we worship though music.” Maybe you start your service with music. “Lets begin today by worshipping God through song.”
I’ve been blessed to wrestle through putting my feelings into this post. I worship God for the intelligence we’re given to encourage one another by discerning what is good and acceptable and perfect.
On a side note. I’m reading this book at the same time as my previous pastor and plan to study it with the music pastor at the church I’m about to join. I image you may here more on this topic as I discuss it with them.
**Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008), 53-54.