Kauflin, Bob. True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God. Wheaton, Il.: Crossway Books. 2015. 176 pp. $12.99
Most Christians understand worship in terms of song. Which is good, Adam sang when God brought him Eve, the typically prosaic Paul exults in song in Romans 11, and Zephaniah shows us that God sings over us. Singing is a beautiful expression that we share with God, but it’s not definitive of worship.
But when we’re told to worship God with our vocation, or life, or illness, or as 1 Corinthians 10 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” our eyes glaze over. We typically have no category for a life of worship. We love the potential of Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship,” but we’re not sure how that should manifest itself. How do I worship God Sunday morning when my kids have frazzled my nerves on the way to church. Or what about on Thursday sitting in my cubicle next to my less-than-pleasant co-worker? What does worship look like then?
Through nine chapters Bob Kauflin lays a biblical foundation for a life of worship. Taking worship from the pew and connecting it to the rest of life. Kauflin rightly aims that worship first and foremost about receiving; Adam received the gift God was giving in the giving of Eve and rightly sang in response. Worship then, starts from a place of humility. For Christians, worshiping God with our lives comes as we remember what we’ve received and continue to receive in the gospel. Gospel-remembrance is the force behind daily worship.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Pastors would do well to read what Kauflin writes. As an experienced pastor and worship leader himself, Kauflin understands the struggles with worship from within the church, and lends his pastoral wisdom to a topic that is often misunderstood and undervalued. Some pastors can idolize the perfect worship band, and in so doing, forget that worship is about explicit truth—regardless of the medium through which it’s presented. Kauflin says, “while music speaks to our emotions, it’s the truth that sets us free, not music…Biblical realities are more significant than the melodies we use to sing them. Or put more simply, truth transcends tunes” (pg. 106).
Often members can feel like they don’t play a part, they just take up a seat. In the two chapters dedicated to worship within the church, Kauflin reminds us of the significance each member can play in the worship of Christ, “Just as there is no body part we’d be happy to lose, there is no one in the church who doesn’t have a purpose in God’s plan” (88). Later he adds, “The persons with deceptively ordinary and un-prestigious gifts are as necessary for the proper functioning of the community as those who put on a more glittery display” (89). Sometimes pastors need to be reminded of the ordinary glory that God gives to each member, and Kauflin does a fine job at reminding the reader of this.
In closing, I’ll say this, this book isn’t just about the theory of worship; Kauflin answers some practical questions and situations that every Christian faces. For example, what if I don’t feel like singing? What do I do during instrumental breaks? What if our songs are theologically shallow? I’ve wrestled with every one of these questions, as I’m sure members of your church do, and Kauflin’s wisdom is solid.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
True Worshipers provides Christians and pastors with a biblical definition of worship and addresses many of the questions we all share.