Bob Kauflin - What Worship Is and Isn't - Part 2: What Really Matters?
- 2000 5 May
By Bob Kauflin, PDI Ministries
Editor's Note: I'd like to again introduce you to our newest Musician's Issues columnist, Bob Kauflin of PDI Ministries and formerly of the group GLAD! This is Bob's second column with us. I hope you enjoy his focus on Worship Matters. - Scott A. Shuford, Producer, The Music Channel at crosswalk.com.
When Christians gather to worship God, what really matters? It's a question I've been asking myself for years, and all the more as I've been exposed to many styles, cultures, philosophies, and methodologies of congregational worship. Looking out across the landscape of traditional, alternative, contemporary, liturgical, and free-flowing worship formats, what are the real non-negotiables of worshiping God in a group context? What really matters?
In examining this question, I've found it helpful to think about another type of corporate event: weddings. We can learn a lot about worship from weddings. Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, with an endless variety of tastes, locations, and styles. You have contemporary weddings, traditional weddings, and formal weddings where every word and move are meticulously scripted. And then you have weddings where the only sure thing is that two people who walked in unmarried will be married when the ceremony ends.
Some couples take a year to plan their wedding. Some go from "I will" to "I do" in a few weeks. Others simply elope.
Couples are pronounced man and wife in cozy living rooms, under the arches of vast cathedrals, and in sunlit fields of flowers by babbling brooks. There are simple, economical weddings and there are memorable epic weddings, complete with lighting director, sound man, multiple coordinators, a 20-page gilt-edged program, and party favors for the happy couple's 500 closest friends.
None of these approaches to a wedding are necessarily right or wrong. When it's time to get married, there are many legitimate options. Yet in every case there is that inescapable common focus: as a man and a woman make their vows before God and their guests, God joins them as husband and wife. That's why the wedding was held. That's why the guests came (or, at least, it should be). Every element of a wedding, from the invitations to the last wave as the newlyweds drive away, focuses on two people being joined in matrimony. Because at a wedding, what really matters is... a marriage!
When we talk about or participate in corporate worship events, however, it's not always so easy to see what really matters to the people involved. Why did the people come? What most captures their attention while they are there? When they leave, what will resonate in their hearts and minds as having been the true focus of the event? Why will they come next time?
If we know what really matters in weddings, isn't it far more important to know what really matters in worship?
To do that, we must develop a clear understanding of what God's Word says on the subject. Simple enough, right? But, alas, we have a problem. A big problem. Our theology tends to look suspiciously like our own practice and traditions. We tend to view Scripture through lenses that preserve the beliefs we already hold. However, by God's grace, we must seek to discover what is primary, and what is merely secondary, in the worship of God.
In the previous column, I mentioned that worship is God's idea, not ours. Therefore, what we do in worship matters. This is not a simple topic, but it is a vital one. To really make some progress in understanding this area, we're going to have to proceed slowly and carefully. If we come to the topic of worship with the conviction that it is central to everything we do as Christians, God will give us the grace and patience to explore this area together, one step at a time.
May God's grace amaze you.
For his glory,
Bob Kauflin has led worship for more than 20 years, and in just about every context you can imagine, including from the main stage at several of the Creation East festivals, the largest outdoor Christian festival in the United States. He now serves as the worship leader at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, and oversees worship development for PDI Ministries. Bob was a founding member of the contemporary Christian group GLAD, and continues to write and arrange for them today. He holds a degree in piano performance from Temple University and has appeared on more than 25 recordings, including as worship leader on live recordings from Integrity Music's Hosanna! series, Word Music's Heart Cry label, and PDI Music's Come and Worship series. You can reach Bob at Bob@pdinet.org or visit the PDI site at http://www.pdinet.org.