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Bob Kauflin

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Bob Kauflin is the Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries, a family of 80+ churches led by C.J. Mahaney. His responsibilities include equipping pastors and musicians in the theology and practice of congregational worship, and contributing to Sovereign Grace CDs. He was a writer and arranger for the group GLAD from 1976-2006, and is one of the worship leaders at Covenant Life Church, in Gaithersburg, MD, led by Josh Harris. His first book, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God was released by Crossway in April, 2008. He writes a blog at www.worshipmatters.com and hosts the bi-annual WorshipGod conference (www.worshipgodconference.com). He and his wife, Julie, have six children and ever growing number of grandchildren.

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Planning Sunday's Songs-Plan Contextually

Bob Kauflin | January 18, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , ,

The context for choosing your songs includes background details such as the sermons that have been preached, your congregation's demographic mix andlevel of spiritual maturity, plus weekly variables such as special occasions or events. More

Focus on Projecting Lyrics

Bob Kauflin | January 12, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , , ,

If your church doesn't use hymnals or songbooks, the person handling the projection of lyrics plays a crucial role in enabling people to engage with truth about God. If they're frequently late in putting up lyrics, show the wrong verse, leave a blank screen, or project misspelled words, that can counteract whatever good leadership you might be exercising. That's why I want that person to be humble, trained, and faithful. It also helps when they More

Music Should Display Variety

Bob Kauflin | January 11, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , ,

What did Paul mean when he encouraged us to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19)? No one's completely sure.Most scholars agree he seems to be encouraging diversity in the songs we use to praise God. “Psalms” might be referring to the Psalter, “hymns” to songs that praise Christ, and “spiritual songs” to more spontaneous expressions. If that's the case, Paul is encouraging us to sing all our More

Hearing Familiar Words in a Fresh Way

Bob Kauflin | January 10, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , , ,

Musical variety enables us to hear the same words with different effect. “Amazing Grace” has a different emotional impact when it's accompanied by a black gospel choir, a large orchestra, a sustained synthesizer chord, or a lone acoustic guitar. Hymns are especially suited for innovative treatments that help us hearthe words from a new perspective. Moving beyond traditional tunes and arrangements shouldn't bother us too much since most hymns were More

Planning Sunday's Songs-Plan Selectively

Bob Kauflin | January 8, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , , , ,

We have more songs available to sing than anyone in church history. That means we don't have to settle for those that “kind of” say what we want, orsongs that are boring, or songs whose music is more memorable than their lyrics. And we certainly don't have to use songs just because they're popular. Great songs come from a variety of sources. We've used hymnals,worship web sites, independent band CDs, nationally known worship artists,quarterly More

Planning Sunday's Songs

Bob Kauflin | January 8, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , , ,

Every worship leader knows the feeling, the pain, the anxiety, the utter discouragement. Your song list for next Sunday is due in thirty minutes,and you have no idea what to do. Or maybe next Sunday is tomorrow morning. It's late. You're tired. You're staring at a blank computer screen surrounded by stacks of CDs, three hymnals, your worship songbook, and a list of what you've sung for the past five months. Nothing's helping. You pray. And you start More

Selecting Sunday's Songs-Plan Creatively

Bob Kauflin | January 7, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , , , ,

Effective leadership involves more than coming up with a song list. For one, we can vary the way songs are sung. A soloist can sing one verse or a whole song, we can use a choir, or the church can sing responsively with the leader or in groups. Singing congregationally isn't the only way of fulfilling God's command to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). We can also change arrangements, tempos, and song More

Planning Sunday's Songs-Plan Progressively

Bob Kauflin | January 6, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , , ,

  First misconception: Playing a song faster will make people worship God more passionately. Not necessarily. Usually it just means they'll have a harder time thinking about the words. Try recording your version of an up-tempo songand comparing it with the recorded version. You'll see what I mean. Speed doesn't equal spiritual impact. If you're not playing to a click track, take your time setting the tempo. Thewrong tempo can hinder a song's effectiveness. More

Planning Sundays Songs-Plan Thematically

Bob Kauflin | January 4, 2011 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , , ,

Our unchanging theme every week is the grand story of deliverance that God accomplished for his people through the life, death, and resurrection of JesusChrist. We want to remember this, rehearse it, celebrate it, and respond to it. More

Adjust Your Musical Arrangements and Volume

Bob Kauflin | December 13, 2010 | Categories: Blogs | Tags: , , ,

Most play-by-ear musicians think that being up front means you should alwaysbe playing. Wrong. Varying when we play, how loudly we play, and what we play affects how people hear the words. More

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The Leader

Bob Kauflin | December 31, 2008 | Categories: Blogs, Videos | Tags: ,

Truth and Music

Bob Kauflin | September 9, 2008 | Categories: Videos | Tags: ,

Motivating Congregations to Worship

Bob Kauflin | July 1, 2008 | Categories: Videos | Tags:

Right Relationships

Bob Kauflin | June 26, 2008 | Categories: Videos | Tags:

The Leader

Bob Kauflin | June 21, 2008 | Categories: Videos | Tags: ,

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A Call for Musically Gifted Pastors

In 2008, I suggested in Worship Matters that the title of “worship leader” needed to be defined to be helpful. So I defined it this way: A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit by 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. I still like that definition, but I’m less sure the term “worship leader” is serving us. It’s taken on a life of its own and continues to be associated with stardom, predominance, the spotlight, good looks, hipster-ness, and in some cases, the ability to mediate God’s presence. It can refer to someone who leads full time, part time, or on a volunteer basis. Most people I talk to fall into the last category. They faithfully serve their church week after week for free or for a small stipend, and are being used by God to lift up the name and glory of Jesus in song. If you’re among that group, I thank God for you. But an increasing number of musicians have full time worship ministry in their sights. They hope that one day they’ll be able to make a living playing their instrument, leading people in songs of praise. That’s a great goal. But I’m not sure it’s the best one. If you believe God’s called and gifted you to serve the church with your music vocationally, I want to suggest that you consider whether God’s calling you to be a pastor as well. A musically gifted pastor. Of course, not every musician who leads congregational singing should or will be a pastor. But if you hope to join a church staff some day, I want to suggest six reasons why preparing to be a pastor who’s also a musician is better than simply aiming to be a worship leader. 1. Your job description is actually in the Bible. A worship leader might describe someone who plays a guitar on Sundays, a musician with a traveling concert ministry, the person on stage with the loudest voice, anyone in the band, the senior pastor, or someone who sings Christian songs. In contrast, God tells us what a pastor is supposed to do. He’s responsible to shepherd God’s people, lead them, teach them, protect them, equip them, and be an example to them (1 Pet. 5:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:2-3; Eph. 4:11-12; Acts 20:28). That’s why when I’m asked what a worship leader should study beyond music, one area I suggest is biblical counseling. Leading worship in song is an opportunity to care for people’s souls, to teach them how the gospel addresses their sin, to protect them from the deceptions of the world, and to display the heart-transforming glory of Jesus Christ. In other words, to do the work of a pastor. While singing is an emotionally expressive activity, leading congregational singing is a pastoral function before it’s a musical one. 2. Your character requirements are clear. We tend to attribute deficiencies in worship leaders to the fact that they’re musicians. They’re supposed to be self-centered, disorganized, and easily offended. That’s why standards for worship leaders can vary widely. Some churches opt for anyone who seems to be a Christian and can play a guitar. But Scripture’s qualifications for a pastor are clear. A pastor is to be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” He must manage his household well, not be a recent convert, and be well thought of by outsiders (1 Tim. 3:2-7). It’s easier to fudge on character standards when we aren’t specific about them. 3. You’ll know your Bible better than your instrument. Being an emotional bunch, musicians can tend to live in the world of fleeting impressions, deep feelings, and theological vagueness (I should know). But Jesus said the truth will set us free, not music. So rather than seeking to […]

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Dave Gobbett on Sovereign Grace Music & WorshipGod UK

I first met Dave Gobbett in 2000 when he was in the states. His love for the Savior and the church were almost palpable. He was bursting with enthusiasm for God’s gospel, God’s people, and God’s work. He also had an appreciation for Sovereign Grace Music that he shared freely once he got back to the UK (as you’ll see below). He played a key role in my leading the music at Word Alive in 2011. Dave now serves as the Lead Minister at Highfields Church, Cardiff, and is a trustee of Word Alive. I’m grateful that Dave will be teaching a seminar at WorshipGod UK this year called “Secure in Christ.” Recently, he answered a few questions for Evangelicals Now and they kindly gave me permission to post an edited version of Dave’s responses (they’ll post the full interview later this month). 1. How did you get to know and what do you like about the Sovereign Grace work? I’ve known and loved the work of Sovereign Grace Ministries since 2000 when I spent a year in the US. I was on staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC with Mark Dever, and in the previous year Mark had become friends with CJ Mahaney, a pastor 40 mins from DC and then head of Sovereign Grace. Dever’s friendship spilled over into our respective church staff teams, and I especially enjoyed getting to know Bob Kauflin (Director of Sovereign Grace Music) and Jeff Purswell (the head of Sovereign Grace’s Pastor’s College). What I continue to love about their work is their unrelenting commitment to proclaiming the glories of God’s grace with both head and heart, and to helping others do the same. They are perhaps best known in the UK for their worship music, which has been a thrill for me to see (in fact when I was at Oak Hill College I had a rather bootleg ministry importing large volumes of Sovereign Grace CDs and selling them on to my fellow students – it was all above board I assure you!). I love their combination of rich doctrine – often updating long forgotten hymns – and strong, anthemic melodies. I imagine that for generations believers will be grateful to Sovereign Grace for giving the church Before the Throne of God Above, I will glory in my Redeemer, O Great God, Behold our God, and Now Why this Fear to name but a handful! (My kids would also want to include Your love will last forever which is a favourite at bedtimes.) 2. How is this conference likely to help the churches in the UK? As a local church pastor, alongside the teaching of God’s word each week, the corporate worship life of the congregation is one of the most important public things that I’m responsible for. How we sing, how we shape the worship service, how ‘gathered’ worship relates to ‘whole life’ worship,what it means to serve out of the overflow of one’s own worship life: these are all crucial issues that need thinking through, and constantly submitting to the Scriptures. And the Sovereign Grace Worship God UK conference is a great help in doing all that! I attended one of their first conferences in the US fifteen years ago, and so I was delighted when Bob Kauflin’s team organised one in the UK last year. True to Sovereign Grace form, WGUK was cross-centred, Bible-saturated, gospel-filled and Spirit-fuelled. A range of church traditions were represented – evangelical Anglican, reformed Baptist, FIEC, New Frontiers – and it was supported by the local SGM church Grace Church Bristol, pastored by Nathan Smith. It was also a remarkably generous conference and there was a tangible sense that here were people who evidently wanted to bless every single delegate. 3. Sovereign Grace music tends to be very professional. If churches adopt much more of this it will only widen the gap between the ‘big church’ experience and small churches who can’t compete. What do we do about that? It’s true that fewer UK congregations will be able […]

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How Michael Reeves Helped Me Love God More

Through the years I’ve been grateful for the many books God has used outside of Scripture to expand and deepen my relationship with him. In the late 70s my wife, Julie, gave me Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Studies in the Sermon on the Mount for my birthday. As I read through it, my eyes were opened to the necessity of humility in the Christian life and the profound effect of expository preaching. In the mid-90s I read Desiring God by John Piper for the first time. It rocked my world. In fact, as a recovering legalist, the book didn’t make sense to me. I thought that my actions only pleased God as they were displeasing to me. I couldn’t believe that what satisfied me best and glorified God most could be the same thing. It was only as I read Desiring God through a second time that I began to understand Christ died on the cross not only to endure God’s wrath in my place but to give me endless joy in him. What a delightful discovery! There have been many other books that have helped shape and inform my relationship with God. But recently I was surprised at the effect a very short book (135 pages!) could have on me. As you could guess from this post’s title, that book was Delighting in the Trinity by my friend, Mike Reeves. I “happened” to meet Mike at the New Word Alive conference in Wales in 2011. Within a few minutes I was affected by his love for the Savior, the gospel, the church, and the people around him. His joy was contagious, his conversation engaging, and his enthusiasm relentless. When his book Delighting in the Trinity came out in 2012, I downloaded a copy and expected it to be encouraging. It was much more than that. It affected the way I think about and relate to God. I’ve been a Christian for 42 years and am always growing in my understanding of and love for the God I worship. What Mike’s book helped me see is why the Triune God, i.e., the true God, is so superior to any other conception of God we might have. For many Christians, and I would include myself among them, God being Triune can at different times seem irrelevant, confusing, intimidating, boring, theologically stimulating, or unnecessary. One word that rarely comes to mind is “delightful.” And yet, it should be obvious that the better we understand how God has revealed himself to us, the more amazed, in awe, undone, and delighted we will be. Here are a few quotes that helped me understand better why God as he truly is can’t be improved upon: If the Trinity were something we could shave off God, we would not be relieving him of some irksome weight; we would be shearing him of precisely what is so delightful about him. For God is triune, and it is as triune that he is so good and desirable. Pressing into the Trinity we are doing what in Psalm 27 David said he could do all the days of his life: we are gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. Neither a problem nor a technicality, the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy. Jesus tells us explicitly in John 17:24. “Father,” he says, “you loved me before the creation of the world.” And that is the God revealed by Jesus Christ. Before he ever created, before he ever ruled the world, before anything else, this God was a Father loving his Son. For eternity, the Father so loves the Son that he excites the Son’s eternal love in response; Christ so loves the church that he excites our love in response; the husband so loves his wife that he excites her to love him back. Such is the spreading goodness that rolls out of the very being of this God. The triune God is an ecstatic God: he is not a God who hoards his life, but one who […]

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Interview with Rob Spink from The Crowded House

I’ve never met Rob Spink, but my good friend Tim Chester recommended that I contact him to share some songs at WorshipGod UK this coming May.  Rob was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Among other things, I appreciate his comment that the local church is a place where we can create culture rather than just consume it. 1. What is your history of leading in the church, musically or pastorally? I’ve been a member of The Crowded House since 2002. I’ve served as an Elder since 2007 and as well as being Community Pastor, have been Music Director since July 2013. So as well as leading in our gathered worship, we’ve been working hard to create a team of musicians who serve the church family by playing well together. I’ve also written several songs with Tim Chester and others in the church. 2. What encourages you about what is happening in gathered worship in the UK and Europe? There’s a lot to be encouraged by! I see an increased commitment to seeing gathered worship as a means that God uses to communicate truth and stir the affections of God’s people. I think that has resulted in some great, theologically-rich words being set to contemporary music. I also think that there’s a greater appreciation of the value of the local church being a place where we can create culture rather than just consume it.  So it seems that more churches are creating their own music in response to what God has been doing amongst them. Finally, the growth of global connections and relationships is a great encouragement; here in the UK there are more and more connections with churches in other continents which are seeing excellence in gathered worship exported around the world. 3. What weaknesses do you see about what is happening broadly in gathered worship in the UK and Europe? One of the big challenges I’m aware of through my involvement with Acts 29 Europe is the lack of songs in other European languages. Perhaps those songs are being written, but aren’t being sung in many churches. It would be a delight to have people not only reading the scriptures in their heart-language, but singing them in their heart language – and indeed in a musical language which really connects with the local culture. I also think that there’s a continuing challenge to make sure that we see gathered worship in terms of its context of the whole-of-life worship of the local church. I would love a growing sense of songs springing from the experience of God’s people on mission, and of those songs in turn becoming a means God uses to encourage further discipleship and mission. 4. How do you think WorshipGod in general and your role there in particular might serve folks as they seek to serve in their local congregations? I’m excited about WorshipGod. It’s a great example of churches working together to see Christ exalted in and through the worship of the people he’s gathering around the world. I particularly hope that God would use the conference to bless local churches with wonderful truth, good practice and excellent music which will help us people to grow in their praise and worship of our God. Having been involved in The Crowded House from early on, I’m aware of some of the limitations of being part of a tiny church, right through to some of the opportunities that come when you get a bit bigger. So I’m particularly looking forward to thinking about how we best use of the various gifts God has given local churches in all their diversity of size, style and background to proclaim the gospel to one another and to the watching world through our sung worship. Finally, I’m particularly excited to be introducing and leading a couple of songs which have come from inside of my church family – The Crowded […]

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Simon Brading Reflects on WorshipGod UK

I’ve known Simon Brading for a number of years now and been encouraged by his thoughtfulness, his passion for the gospel, and his heart to see music used in the church for the glory of Jesus Christ. Last year at WorshipGod UK he sang a couple songs  and I was struck by his desire to pastor the people he was leading. At this year’s conference, I’ve asked him to lead the music for a main session and participate in a seminar called Planning for Sundays. Simon kindly took some time to answer a few questions about himself and WorshipGod UK, coming to Bath 7th-9th May. 1. What is your history of leading in the church, musically and pastorally? I starting playing guitar in my youth band as a 12 year old. When I was 14 I began to lead worship at youth group once a month, and did this pretty much every month right through my teens. At 16 I started to lead worship at some regional youth events. Then at 18, Pastor Joel Virgo asked whether I would be up for leading worship at Newday – a bible week for 7000 teenagers. After going to university, Joel invited me onto staff to lead the worship team at Church of Christ the King Brighton, as well as to coordinate the worship team for Newday each year. 2. What encourages you about what what is happening in gathered worship in the UK and Europe? Europe is largely a secular, post-modern and atheistic culture. It’s the one continent in the world where Christianity is on the decrease, not the increase. I am encouraged that we are building churches in Brighton and beyond that are engaging with those cultures, teaching them the true gospel and helping them to worship Jesus. Secular, post-modern, atheists are becoming God-fearing, Bible-belieiving worshippers. 3. What weaknesses do you see about what is happening broadly in gathered worship in the UK and Europe? A general emphasis on style/atmosphere/emotion over substance/content/lyrics. There seems to be a famine of New Testament songs, containing revelation about the Gospel. Or if there is, it seems very light. What are we teaching people about Christ and what He’s done for us? Paul says in Col 3:16, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly… as you sing. I want worship albums, song-lists, festivals and conferences to contain the word of Christ richly as we sing. That’s what the UK needs, that’s what Europe needs. 4. How do you think WorshipGod in general and your role there in particular might serve folks as they seek to serve in their local congregations? WorshipGod could serve folks in their local congregations by imparting faith for local church worship, faith for the gospel, faith for God’s promises and affections for His church, faith for small worship teams, faith for great encounters with God. Not Just for Musicians We’ve designed WorshipGod UK not only to serve musicians, but pastors as well. To that end,  on 7th May, from 10am to 5pm we’re hosting a one day conference called, “Hope and the Pastor,” at the Forum in Bath. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from Kevin DeYoung, Jeff Purswell, and Rick Gamache on topics that we believe will refresh your soul in the gospel. You can find out more information here.

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The Gathering: Coming to Knoxville this Weekend

In 2011, Sovereign Grace Music recorded The Gathering, a collection of 15 songs that walk through the flow of the gospel and our response to it. Among others, the album included Greater Than We Can Imagine, Shine Into Our Night, Show Us Christ, and All I Have is Christ. The idea for the project had its origins in Bryan Chapell’s excellent book, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice. Chapell makes the case from Scripture, history, and our personal need that, “Corporate worship is nothing more, and nothing less, than a re-presentation of the gospel in the presence of God and his people for his glory and their good.” While the gospel can be “re-presented” in different ways, rehearsing and reveling in God’s salvation each time we meet. For Christians, that means we focus on the gospel and its implications. Our songs, sermons, symbols, and structures should all reflect the fact that the holy God has reconciled a people to himself through the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross, and that our lives are meant to be a Spirit-empowered grateful response to that reality. Since we recorded the album, we’ve had a number of opportunities to lead similar evenings in Orange County, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Sydney, the Philippines, and New Orleans, and we’ll be in Philadelphia later this month. This weekend however, March 6-7, we’ll be in Knoxville for a Gathering event sponsored by Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. My good friend, Walt Alexander, has been doing the lion’s share of work to pull the weekend together. The event begins Friday night at 7 PM with Gathering Around the Gospel. I’ll share a brief message on why the gospel is meant to be at the heart of our gatherings, followed by 90 minutes of singing, praying, and Scripture that propel us deeper into the joys, realities, and implications of the gospel. Our goal will be to understand better how the gospel is central to our gatherings and how we can insure people leave our times together with a greater love for God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Saturday will run from 10:30am-5pm and will include teachings on The Quest for Humility and Encountering God: What Should We Expect? We’ll also have a session of band evaluation after lunch. I’ll be leading some of the music along with Devon, my son, and a team of musicians from Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. This will be a great event for pastors, leaders, and teams to attend together. Of course, you can come by yourself, too. The cost is only $20 and you can register online or at the door on Friday night or Saturday morning. If you’re from Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, North or South Carolina, Virginia, or West Virginia I’d love for you to come and join us for 24 hours of glorying in the Savior who is the best news the world has ever heard. And if you’re around Sunday morning, Devon will be leading the music and I’ll be preaching at the 10 AM service of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. (Knoxville image coutersy of Shutterstock)

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Who Turned the Lights Out?

A while back Brad sent me this question: We seem to be developing a debate at our church in regards to turning down the house lights to “set the mood” for better worship. What is your take on that? Later I received this from Jeremy: I was wondering if you could offer any commentary regarding the use of lights at any of the WorshipGod conferences. I have memories going back to the “Psalms” conference [in 2008]. In each of the conference settings, it has struck me that the lights in the house are left active during the music-worship time of gatherings. Is that intentional? Is that unintentional? Is it because no one is available to run a lights scheme? :- Glad you asked. Yes, we do have someone available to run a lights scheme and yes, leaving the lights up is intentional. A Very Brief History of Lighting Churches have been meeting with little to no light for centuries. In pre-dawn and night services they depended on candles or torches, or met by moonlight. With the advent of electricity, churches that had once gathered in darkness could now meet to the glow of bulbs and lamps. Even as far back as the early 20th century, progressive pastors were experimenting with the potential upsides (in their minds) of affecting people’s emotions with lighting. In the last few decades of the 1900s youth leaders were turning the lights down in their meetings, reasoning that near-darkness made teens feel less noticed and more comfortable. Low lights would give unbelievers an opportunity to hear the gospel. Enter the world of rock concerts, seeker sensitive and emerging churches, and modern lighting. We can control lights in every possible way, including the percentage of light in the room. We can focus lights. We can flash lights. We can color lights. We can cause lights to move. We can widen and narrow lights. For the first time in history we can use all the light we’d ever want or need. But we don’t. More and more churches have chosen to turn down the house lights when the congregation sings. Search for “worship” in Google images and the majority are mostly dark or shadows. For a number of years I’ve wondered why. This is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. To be clear, I’m not going to address production lighting in general. On that topic, we should pursue what John Piper terms undistracting excellence – doing what we do so skillfully that people aren’t even aware of it. In this post I want to focus on the level of lighting for a congregation. The Good Stuff I think I understand at least some of the reasons for turning the lights down. it keeps people from being distracted it focuses people on the front people feel more comfortable and less conspicuous screens and videos are easier to see when the room is dark lights can be used to direct people’s focus lights on the stage are less effective when the rest of the room is fully lit These are legitimate reasons for lowering the house lights. But I want to ask whether we should still consider turning the lights up. Or even on. I recognize this issue falls far down the scale when it comes to crucial topics for the church to consider. But perhaps low lights can have unintended consequences. The Not So Good Stuff Brad asked me what my take was on turning “the house lights down to set the mood for better worship.” His questions beg a few more questions. Why does not seeing the congregation make for “better worship?” What is the best “mood” for worship? Should we be trying to set a mood through lighting? When we start quantifying worship by the lighting and mood, we’re already in trouble. We’ve slipped from viewing worship as a Spirit-enabled response to God’s self-revelation in the gospel to seeing it as an emotional experience that can be humanly produced and manipulated. Worship is not simply a mood. Aesthetic elements should support and complement our […]

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WorshipGod 2015: TRIUNE Registration Now Open!

In July 2014 we held our first WorshipGod conference on the Trinity in Santa Ana, CA. It was such a rich time we decided to repeat that theme for WorshipGod 2015: TRIUNE. The dates are July 29-Aug 1, and we’re excited to be coming back to Highview Baptist East in Louisville, KY. Christians can sometimes think of the Trinity like an appendix. We know it’s there but we’re not quite sure what its purpose is. And if it was removed, it wouldn’t change much. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Trinity is at the heart of our faith and at the heart of our worship. But how much do you know about the Trinity? More importantly, how well do you know God as Father, Son, and Spirit? What difference does it make to your relationship with him? Would it matter if God wasn’t Triune? These questions and more will be the focus of WorshipGod 2015: TRIUNE. We’ll be exploring what difference God being Three-in-One makes to our songs, our prayers, our meetings, and our lives. Who’s Speaking? Here’s the line up of speakers for the main sessions: Wednesday PM: Why the Trinity is so Delightful (And Why it Matters) – Jeff Purswell Thursday AM: The Triune God and the Cross (Why The Gospel Has to be Trinitarian) – Jared Mellinger Thursday PM: Knowing God as Father (The Miracle of Adoption) – CJ Mahaney Friday 9AM: The Unique Role of the Holy Spirit (Getting to Know the Third Person of the Trinity) – Ray Ortlund, Jr. Friday 11AM: We Are One (Why Our Unity is Thoroughly Trinitarian) – H.B. Charles, Jr. Friday PM: Singing and Praying to a Triune God (How to Celebrate Trinity Sunday Every Week) – Bob Kauflin Saturday AM: Living Before the Triune God (Bringing it All Together) – Rick Gamache The Music I’ll be leading a few of the sessions musically along with my son, Devon. My good friend, Matt Boswell, from Providence Church in Frisco will take a session, and I’m grateful that Aaron Johnson and DOXA from Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia will be with us. We’ll also be hearing from songwriters Dustin Kensrue, Michael Bleecker, and Bobby & Kristen Gilles, who will each be sharing some of their songs in the main sessions. Pre-Conference Intensives If you can arrive early, we’re offering five pre-conference intensives from 1:30-5:00pm on Wednesday. The first is The Contemporary Choir, led by Sheri Gould. She’ll be spending time rehearsing and teaching a choir that will also sing at the Friday night session. I’ll be leading a session called Lessons Learned from Thirty Years of Leading for anyone involved in leading or planning corporate worship. David Zimmer will be leading a master class for drummers, Ryan Foglesong will be teaching a master class for bass players, and Patrick Anderson will be leading a class for guitarists. During the conference you can attend a lunch on Thursday for those interested in using solo instruments more effectively, and a lunch on Friday for those serving in tech and media. Loads of Seminars You’ll be able to choose 4 of 28 seminars this year designed to serve pastors, worship leaders, musicians, vocalists, songwriters, and tech personnel. And if you aren’t a musician, no problem! In each seminar slot we offer at least one general seminar designed to increase anyone’s knowledge of and passion for God and the gospel. Here are a few of the seminar choices this year: Christians and Culture – Dustin Kensrue Eagerly Desiring Prophecy – Rick Gamache Growing in Grace as a Leader – Jared Mellinger Overcoming Songwriter’s Block – Steve & Vikki Cook Rehearsing the Right Things for the Right Reasons – Bob and Devon Kauflin Scripture Meditation: Getting More Out of Your Bible – Don Whitney Getting a Grip on God’s Glory – Bruce Ware Gospel-Centered Everything – Jeff Purswell What to Expect WorshipGod events feel like family reunions – even if it’s your first time! For three full days we get to laugh, eat, […]

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Michael Morrow Reflects on WorshipGod UK

I first met Michael Morrow in Australia. I had heard his song We Belong to the Day and was impressed with his desire to write songs that communicated rich theology in contemporary musical settings. Shortly after we met, Michael moved to the UK, where he’s been ever since. I’m grateful that he’s going to be sharing some of his songs at WorshipGod UK, where we’ll be learning from Michael Reeves, Kevin DeYoung, Tim Chester, Jeff Purswell, and others about Gathering Around the Gospel. Michael took some time to answer a few questions about himself and the conference. What is your history of leading in the church, musically or pastorally? I started playing piano and writing songs in my local church in Sydney when I was 15. But I spent years doing it out of pride, because I wanted to look good, or out of pragmatics, because music in church could be embarrassingly bad, and I wanted to fix it. Eventually a good friend, Philip Percival, introduced me to the truths from Colossians 3:16, that when we sing gospel truths God plants his words deep in our hearts, and that transformed the way I played and wrote. I started to pursue training in music ministry: I did an apprenticeship at a church, I went to bible college, and then I got offered a job as music director at Dundonald Church in London. I feel really privileged to be at a church that has faithful, humble bible teaching in its DNA, that also sees music as a ministry of the word. What encourages you about what is happening in gathered worship in the UK and Europe? It encourages me to see lots of young people learning what I was so slow to learn. Among evangelical churches here there seems to be a healthy understanding of what worship is, and how music can support the work of God’s word, and that means I meet lots of people around who aren’t hung up or confused about issues, but are simply eager to serve. What weaknesses do you see about what is happening broadly in gathered worship in the UK and Europe? Apart from a few exceptions the churches with lots of resources seem to be the ones not committed to teaching the bible. The rest of us feel quite small, so it can be tempting to want to follow them and build something that won’t last. How do you think WorshipGod in general and your role there in particular might serve folks as they seek to serve in their local congregations? WorshipGod is a great time for reflecting on big truths, taking stock of where we are at, and remembering the reasons we do what we do. It’s rare to get two-and-a-half days to think about how to serve Christ and his body through music, so I think it will be an incredibly useful time. I’ve been asked to share a couple of songs that I’ve written for churches to sing. I’m passionate about words that engage us; that don’t repeat clichés, but wake us up to the wonders of what God has done in Jesus. I’m hoping some of my words might do that, and I’m praying they might be useful for people to take to their own churches. WorshipGod UK: Gathering Around the Gospel is designed for pastors, music leaders, service leaders, vocalists, instrumentalists, songwriters, tech teams, and anyone who helps plan and lead congregational worship. If you’re thinking about attending, keep in mind that rates go up 1st March. that’s just a few days away. In addition, we’ll be hosting a day for pastors and their wives on Thursday, 7th May. Kevin DeYoung, Jeff Purswell, and Rick Gamache will be speaking, and I’ll be leading the music along with my son, Devon. You can get more details here. I’m grateful to Nathan Smith and Grace Church Bristol for having us in and doing a lot of the leg work […]

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Be Equipped to Gather Around the Gospel at WorshipGodUK

We’re about three months out from WorshipGod UK and can’t wait.  We’re really looking forward to spending three days with people who are serious about serving their local churches with the gospel through the Word and song. The gospel is a word we can use frequently without reflecting on its meaning, power, and relevance. That’s why when we gather on Sunday mornings, there’s nothing more important we can do than remind people that Jesus has come to save us from sin, death, and hell through his substitutionary death and triumphant resurrection, and that that affects every aspect of our lives. I’m thrilled that our speakers this year will include Mike Reeves, Tim Chester, Kevin DeYoung, Dave Gobbett, Nathan Smith, and Jeff Purswell. Here’s a video we recorded to explain the heart behind the conference and share some of the details. In the video I wasn’t able to mention all the UK musicians who will be joining us for the conference, but last year they were a significant means of encouragement to the attendees. The musicians coming this year to lead us or share new songs with us include Matt Richley from Christ Church Newport, Michael Morrow from DunDonald Church, Ben Slee from Christ Church Mayfair, and Rob Spink from The Crowded House. In addition Matt Searles will be back to teach a seminar on how God can use the Psalms to minister to us during seasons of suffering. All this talk about music could lead someone to think WorshipGod UK is meant just for musicians. Far from it. It’s often non-musicians who are responsible for planning the Sunday gatherings and we’ve designed the conference to equip and encourage those with no musical knowledge. Of course, we’ll have plenty for the musicians as well. I also didn’t mention in the video that before WorshipGod begins we’ll be hosting a day conference for pastors and their wives on Thursday 7th May from 10am – 5pm. The theme is “Hope and the Pastor,” and the teaching will be handled by my friends Jeff Purswell, Rick Gamache, and Kevin DeYoung. I’ll have the privilege of leading the music along with my son, Devon. People are already signed up to come to WorshipGod from around the UK, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Russia. We’d love for you to join us! If you can’t decide whether or not you’ll be able to make it, keep in mind that if you book in before 1st March, you’ll save money, and if you can get three or more people to sign up with you, you’ll save even more. Check out the WorshipGod UK website for more information. Even if you can’t come, we’d appreciate prayers that God would use our time together to serve the many people and churches in the UK and Europe who are passionate about proclaiming the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ not only in their meetings, but in their lives.    

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