I’ve been enjoying and profiting from reading Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin, Director of Worship Development, Sovereign Grace Ministries. Bob recently spoke at the Desiring God National Conference. His talk was entitled: “Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing.” Definitely worth checking out! You may also want to check out Bob’s website, Worship Matters.
I was grateful to see the varied, vigorous and, I think, fruitful response to the posting on “Authentic Worship Leading is Like Authentic Preaching.” I was not altogether surprised to see discussion centered around my adaptation of Lloyd-Jones’ characteristic #5: “The worship leader must be serious, never light or superficial.” Being serious and yet “lively” (#6) and “warm” (#8) is indeed a delicate balance.
As it relates to preachers, as Lloyd-Jones points out, we must remember that the preacher is dealing with “the most serious matter that men and women can ever consider,” namely, God and the eternal state of their souls. So, too, again, I think the same could be said of the worship leader: he is dealing, so to speak, with the most serious matter that men and women can ever consider, namely, God and, in a very real sense, the eternal state of their worshipping souls.
On the seriousness-engendering nature of this stunning realization, I remember a wonderful quote I read a number of years ago from Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk:
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return” (pp. 52-53).
While I whole-heartedly agree that we as worship leaders must always avoid putting on an air of somberness or austerity, posing for God-entranced earnestness, we must also remember with what – or, rather – with Whom we’re dealing. When it comes to worship, I suspect what our churches these days really need is less cheerfulness and more crash helmets.