Archive | Worship in the Church

Posts regarding the direct practice of worship in the context of the local church.

I Worship God by Singing. You Should, Too.

Last week Donald Miller, probably best known as the author of Blue Like Jazz, wrote a blog post called, “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.” It came as I was  working on a chapter for my book, True Worshipers. A chapter called “True Worshipers Sing.” I was surprised by the categorical nature of Don’s title and even more concerned after reading the post. Don seemed more committed to being honest (brutally honest at one point) and telling us about his learning style than helping us see more clearly what God might think about our singing. I’ve read some thoughtful responses to Don’s post from Mike Cosper, Denny Burk …

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Oh, Oh, Ooh, Ooh, La, La, Whoa

I’ve been thinking about the use of generic syllables in congregational singing for a while now. It’s not a new phenomenon. I remember singing, “Lai lai lai lai lai, lai lai lai lai lai lai,” as the last verse of the song in the 70s that was called “Then shall the virgin break forth into dance.” I think it was supposed to be the dance section. We sing, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la” and don’t think twice about it. And the Beatles did just fine with “ob-la-di, ob-la-da” and the epic ending to Hey Jude (Na Na Na Na na na Naaaaaaa). But recently an increasing number of modern worship songs feature syllables …

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What Kind of Songs Should You Lead in 2014?

I’ve read a number of posts and articles about how to determine what’s best for your congregation to sing. Kevin DeYoung did a two part series a couple years ago here and here that was excellent. As the new year began three thoughts came to me about the kinds of songs we should be leading in our churches or ministries. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but it might serve as the bare minimum for how we choose our songs. 1. Choose songs people CAN sing. This should be obvious. But important things often are – obvious and neglected. In one sense people can sing just about anything. I’ve been in concert setting where crowds are belting …

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From the Archives: Sentimentalizing, Sanitizing, and Spiritualizing Christmas

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the significance of the Incarnation. Writers, philosophers, poets, and composers through the centuries have searched in vain for words that adequately capture the wonder, mystery, beauty, and power of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us. The miracle and meaning of the Incarnation can be so difficult to grasp that we can give up and start to view Christmas in ways that leave us impoverished and unimpressed with the real story. Even in the church our songs and reflections about about Christmas can fail to leave people gasping in amazement or humbled in awe that God would come to dwell among us. Sometimes …

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Music vs. Truth Experiences – A Testimony

A few months ago I was talking with Jonathan Jackson, a member of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville who has also led worship in song on a few Sundays this past year. He was telling me how he was noticing a difference in how he approached leading and that the songs we sang were a large part of that. I asked him to write up a few thoughts about what he had been experiencing. He wrote: As a church culture I believe we have strayed away from singing songs that we deem “wordy” or “too deep” and have settled for songs that have one or two basic ideas about who God is or what He has done for us. We go for an experience that is much closer …

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Exposing Perfectionism

This semester I met with a group of interns on Friday afternoons (when I was around). Along with developing some musical skills we read selected chapters from Unceasing Worship by Harold Best. If you haven’t read it and you’re a Christian involved in congregational worship or the arts, I’d strongly encourage you to get a copy. At our last meeting someone referenced this quote from chapter 11: “Authentic worship is not perfect worship. It stands in continual need of examination, repentance, increased depth and humility as well as outpouring meekness and humility.” That led to an extended conversation on the topic of perfectionism. Most Christian …

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What’s a Young Worship Leader to Do?

Recently, I had the privilege of leading the music at the Conviction to Lead conference, put on by Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. It was a regional men’s conference for the Sovereign Grace Churches in the mid-South. It was a great time of encouragement, equipping, fellowship, and laughter. Topics included The Leader and Conviction, Learning, Vocation, Planning, Parenting, the Home, the Word, and the Church. Messages can be downloaded here. On Friday afternoon I met with about 40 guys for lunch followed by Q&A on topics related to music and worship. One question had to do with what my counsel would be to a worship leader who was just starting …

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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 not …

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Grace Has Come – So Has Our New Album

I’m overjoyed to report that last week (Aug. 1) we released Grace Has Come: Songs from the Book of Romans. I knew when we started this project that it would be a daunting task. It was. There just isn’t any way of adequately communicating the glorious truths in the book of Romans. But we had to try. I thank God that a lot of great songs for congregational worship have been written recently, like Not in Me and Man of Sorrows. More people are trying to write songs that are theologically driven, gospel aware, fresh, and singable. With Grace Has Come we let a book of the Bible drive the whole album. This is by no means an exhaustive musical …

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Raising Gospel-Centered Children – An Interview with Marty Machowski

Training children to put their hope and trust in Christ is one of the greatest privileges we have. Marty Machowski has devoted decades to helping churches and families do just that. Although my kids were grown before he wrote his materials, I read The Gospel Story Bible to my grandkids and can’t recommended his children’s ministry curriculum highly enough. I’m excited that Marty will be teaching seminars at both WorshipGod West and WorshipGod East this year. He graciously took the time to answer a few questions about his life and seminar. 1. Briefly share your testimony of conversion with us. I submitted my life to Christ I the summer between …

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Electric guitar (477101105)

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 not possible …

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The Look

For years, I heard C.J. Mahaney reference a John Newton hymn that began with the lines, “In evil long I took delight.” Newton imagines the Savior looking down at him twice from the cross. The first look communicates our guilt and responsibility for the death of Christ. The second look assures us that this sacrifice forever secures our forgiveness before God. The two looks together fill us with a “pleasing grief and mournful joy.” “Pleasing grief and mournful joy” describe well the proper response to Christ’s death on the cross. I can never grieve long over what it cost the Savior to redeem me before my heart wells up in joy that his death has …

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Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed

Keith and Kristyn Getty (along with Ed Cash) have a new song that celebrates the resurrection of Christ. Great lyrics, accessible melody, and reminders of how the resurrection affects our lives today. I’ve posted the lyrics below. And thanks to the generosity of Keith and Kristyn, you can download the MP3 and various charts (choral, rhythm piano, hymn) by clicking here. Verse 1 How can it be, the One who died, Has borne our sin through sacrifice To conquer every sting of death? Sing, sing hallelujah. For joy awakes as dawning light When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes. Alive He stands, their Friend and King; Christ, Christ …

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Sentimentalizing, Sanitizing, and Spiritualizing Christmas

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the significance of the Incarnation. Writers, philosophers, poets, and composers through the centuries have searched in vain for words that adequately capture the wonder, mystery, beauty, and power of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us. The miracle and meaning of the Incarnation can be so difficult to grasp that we can give up and start to view Christmas in ways that leave us impoverished and unimpressed with the real story. Even in the church our songs and reflections about about Christmas can fail to leave people gasping in amazement or humbled in awe that God would come to dwell among us. Sometimes …

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All the World Was Waiting

Okay, this is really old school, but I thought a few of you might enjoy this song I wrote and arranged for GLAD back in the 90s for their Voices of Christmas album. I tried to capture the reality that all of life is waiting until that final day when we will see our Savior’s face and will have to wait no more. Here are the lyrics: All the world was waiting for the promised One. Prophets through the ages claimed that He would come. Would He be a warrior, or a conquering king? Could he be the one who’d save us from our sin and suffering? All the world was waiting the night that you were born. God of life eternal, in a fragile form. Shepherds …

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