Archive | —Defining Terms

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Why a Synthesizer Isn’t the Holy Spirit

In recent decades ambient sounds have become omnipresent in church gatherings. Meetings start with a synth swell and every song after that is connected to the next with musical glue. Synth pads play softly behind prayer, Scripture readings, song intros, communion, and in some cases, the preaching. If you don’t have someone who can produce the necessary sounds, no worries. “Worship pads” in every key are available for purchase to smooth out the transitions. Which raises the question: what’s going on? Music and God’s Presence We often see a connection between music and the Holy Spirit’s activity in Scripture. Long before he was …

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Seven Myths of Contextualization

A wise missionary knows that preaching the gospel to a different culture requires contextualizing your message. The words we use don’t automatically translate to a new culture that lacks the associations and experiences we’re familiar with. We need to find new ways of communicating the old, old story, ways that can be understood, ways that “speak the language” of those we’re ministering to. But even on a local scale, we have to deal with contextualization. That’s because music and liturgy are a language. They can mean different things to different people. In the past few years, much has been written, advocated, and modeled to help us understand …

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What God Wants Pastors and Worship Leaders to Know

Recently I posted on What Pastors Wished Their Worship Leaders Knew and What Worship Leaders Wished Their Pastor Knew. Today I’d like to finish by suggesting a few things I think God wants both groups to know. These points certainly aren’t everything that can be said, but they might be helpful to keep in mind as we work together to serve our churches and bring glory to the Savior. 1. The church belongs to Jesus, not us. (Mt. 16:18) Rivalry and disunity contradicts what Jesus came to do – make us one (Jn. 17:11, 21-22; Phil. 2:1-2). If we think the other leader is taking away “our” time, the primary problem is the way we view …

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From the Archives: Should Worship be Fun?

More than once I’ve heard Christians insist that worship should be fun, or act like they had a responsibility to prove that Christians knew how to “party” in church. I’ve always been uncomfortable with that connection, so I started thinking about the place of “fun” in worship, if one even exists. I’m going to address this question by answering it as I posed it, and then considering two other ways it might be phrased. Should worship be fun? If we take the exhaustive testimony of Scripture, the answer would have to be a resounding NO. “Fun” wouldn’t characterize any of the scenes in the Bible where people encounter God together, at least …

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Worship Without Words

Recently I posted on Twitter: The fact that Psalms doesn’t include a soundtrack or notation clues us in to what God values most in our worship songs. I find it fascinating that God gave us a “songbook” with numerous musical references, but no actual music. It’s not that music is unimportant. Badly played or written music can make great theology sound obscure or unappealing. Great music can make shallow lyrics sound profound and incredibly moving. Which is why when we’re deciding what to sing congregationally, we want to give the greatest attention to the lyrics we’re singing. In response to my tweet someone asked: @bkauflin Is it …

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From the Archives: Why Theology Matters to Musicians

This post is based on a message I gave at the Christian Musician Summit in 2008. When Christian musicians get together, we tend to assume we all have our theology down and we can focus on honing our chops, discovering new gear, and improving our techniques and methodologies. Or maybe we think that theology isn’t that important. Whatever the reason, I wanted to make clear that even at the Christian Musician Summit, theology matters. Theology is literally the “study of God,” particularly as he has revealed himself in Scripture. It includes not only studying the Bible, but understanding how the different parts of the Bible fit together. Christian …

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Manufacturing, Marketing, and Minimizing God’s Presence, Pt. 1

A few weeks ago a friend and I were glancing through a Christian magazine and noticed how often people referred to “God’s presence.” It’s a hot topic these days. In his kindness and mercy, God often reveals his active presence to us. By “active” presence I mean God’s presence as distinct from his omnipresence and his promised presence, both of which we accept by faith. Whether we “feel” it or not, God is present when his Word is faithfully preached, when his people meet in Jesus’ name, when we celebrate the Lord’s supper, when we sing, and we were serve in his power (1 Tim. 6:13; 1 Cor. 5:4; Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 11:27-32; Acts 10:33; Eph. …

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David Peterson on Revelation and the Songs We Sing

My top recommended book on a biblical theology of worship is David Peterson’s Engaging with God. If you’re responsible for leading in your church, either as a pastor or a musician, I think you’ll serve people more faithfully and biblically if you read it. I go through it every year with my interns and never fail to come away from our discussion times with fresh understanding and inspiration for leading corporate worship. Peterson focuses on worship as it’s understood in the Old Testament, the gospels, and various epistles. The chapters on Hebrews and Revelation by themselves are worth the price of the book. This past Wednesday we were discussing …

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50 Messages on Worship

Over at his blog, Between Two Worlds, my friend Justin Taylor has posted links to a number of messages on worship that were given at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Speakers include David Peterson, John Frame, Kevin Twit, Harold Best, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Michael Card, Jason Harms, and yours truly. Over 50 messages, all with links. I was was able to attend David Peterson’s lectures and thought they were outstanding. Topics cover worship as it relates to the music, the arts, hymns, lament, the cross, the Word, postmodernism,  jazz, and more. Check out the lectures here. …

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Why Theology Matters to Christian Musicians

This past weekend I spoke at the Christian Musician Summit on Why Theology Matters to Christian musicians. When Christian musicians get together, our tendency is to assume we all have our theology down and we can focus on honing our chops, discovering new gear, and improving our techniques and methodologies. Or maybe we think that theology isn’t that important. Whatever the reason, I wanted to make clear that even at the Christian Musicians Summit, theology matters. I started by saying that theology is literally the “study of God,” particularly as he has revealed himself in Scripture. It includes not only studying the Bible, but understanding …

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What is a Successful Christian Musician?

This past weekend I had the joy of speaking on various topics at the Christian Musician Summit in Overlake, WA, near Seattle. It was a very encouraging time, and I met quite a few people who were currently using Worship Matters with their worship team. Great hooking up with old friends and making some new ones. I mentioned to a few folks that I’d be posting my message and workshop notes on my blog. So that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few days. In the opening session I spoke on “What is a Successful Christian Musician?” I chose that topic because I know that when we attend large conferences led by highly skilled musicians, we can be …

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Listening to Music for God’s Glory

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking to the parents and youth of my home church on the topic of listening to music for the glory of God. The parent/youth ministry is currently discussing the book, Wordliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. My message was something of an adaptation of a chapter I wrote for the book, called “God, My Heart, and Music.” I started out by saying God gave us music as a gift to direct our attention to him. In the Bible, music is connected with worship, weddings, funerals, work, play, and war. The basic elements of rhythm, melody, and harmony aren’t inherently evil or sinful. Non-Christians can …

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Worship Matters Video Vignettes

A while back I recorded four brief videos (3-4 minutes each) that serve as an introduction to the four sections of my book, Worship Matters, but can also be used as stand-alones. They deal with four areas: The Leader (what do I love the most?) The Task (what exactly is a worship leader trying to do?) Healthy Tensions (what false dichotomies do we create in corporate worship?) Right Relationships (how can I worship God in my relationships with my team, church, and pastor?) I recently was surprised to find out that the October issue of Worship Leader magazine mentioned them as a resource for worship leaders, pastors, and ministry teams. …

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Entering the Presence of God

My friend, West, left a question on another post. He was asking about comments I’ve made to the effect that it isn’t a worship leader’s responsibility to lead people into God’s presence. Only Jesus can do that. West wrote: Heb. 9 through Heb. 10:1-22 call us to enter the Most Holy Place confidently. John Frame says “The Most Holy Place was opened to us at the death of Christ, when the veil of the temple was torn in two” (In Spirit and Truth, 27). If God is enthroned on and abides in the praises of his people, and if he is wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in his name, then it seems that there is an actual, spiritual experience of “entering into” the …

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Is it Biblical for a Woman to Lead Worship?

I received this question from Tracy: My husband has recently become a Pastor in a small Outback Queensland (Australia) church and holds a complementarian view of women in ministry. This is a very uncommon viewpoint in the church movement my husband is Pastoring under. We have had queries as to if I will lead worship which has left both my husband and I with our own questions as we can’t see a biblical precedent for women as worship leaders…What do you see as a woman’s place in worship and is it permissible for a woman to be a worship leader? I’ve been asked this question numerous times and thought Tracy’s particular situation would give …

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