Session 3 – Bob Kauflin

28 09 2008


The service was started out right away without introduction.  The music began playing and the people began worshipping.  As always, there was a great sense of unity and sincerity felt throughout the congregation.

As Bob Kauflin made his way to the podium, he started out by quoting Martin Luther tothose who came for the preaching only and waited patiently for the singing to end.  The question was raised, why words and music and not words alone?  Why does God want us to sing?  Zeph. 3:17, Heb 2:12, Eph. 5:?.  We serve a God who sings and wants us to be more like him.

Music relating to words.  Some people think that music supersedes the words or undermines the words.  They think that certain types of music are more important than the words to be able to worship.  Others think that music in the church causes problems.  They fear the power of music, so they stay from it as much as possible.


God intended that music serve the word.  How does music help us serve the Word?

Singing helps us remember words.
Our brains are wired to recognize patterns in music better than in words alone.
Every culture has nemonic devices to help their children learn.  Usually these devices are found in rhythm and meter.
The Lord instructed Moses to teach Israel a song before they about to enter the promised land.
We must teach melodies that are easy to remember.
You can write music that is too simple that no one wants to remember or too complex that no one can remember.
Some people think that music written 300yr ago is the best, and some people think that music written with the past 10yr are the best.  Both are right.  We need the familiar and the new.
We should sing words that God wants us to remember.
Gordon Fee says, “Show me a church’s music and I will show you their theology.”
It’s not about music experiences or highs, there is some of that, but the largest part is our heart’s response and reaction to the words.
Music in the church should never replace the teaching, but it should be a great compliment.
We should seek to memorize songs.
SDD (Screen Dependancy Disorder)
HDD (Hymnal Dependancy Disorder)
Singing can help us engage emotionally with words.
In every culture, language is an expression of emotion.
When David played his heart for Saul, he was calmed.
Music urged people to dance or mourn depending what was being played in the Bible.
We associate certain styles or symbols.
Certain chord progressions, instruments, and movements are associated with evil.
Musical skill in leadership can affect us.
Music helps us engage with the words.
Just speaking the words to Amazing Grace or It Is Well with My Soul leaves much to be wanted.  When played to music, it takes on a whole new form that makes sense and has a sense of deeper mourning.
For those who get caught up on on repetition in contemporary music, they should be reminded of Ps. 136 or songs like It Is Well with My Soul
We need a broad emotional range in the songs we sing.  The songs of God cannot be adequately expressed in a 2 min. pop songs.  Neither can the awesomeness of God be sung just with quiet, mellow music.
Singing should be an emotional event.  God is worthy of our highest, purest, strongest emotions.
Singing can help us use words to demonstrate and express our unity.
Singing is found at football games, birthday parties, holiday parties, etc.
Singing together tends to bind us together.  It allows us to spend extended periods of time uniting in Spirit, agreeing with each other, and testifying to one another the work of God in our lives.
We should seek to sing songs that unite rather than divide the church.
We can appreciate the different genres, but music in the church is not meant to be something for everybody.  There should be a unifying musical center that unifies everyone in the church while occasionally introducing new songs.
Musical creativity in the church has functional limits.
God did not assign us the task of singing the most radical, cutting edge music possible.
We must pursue a creativity that is not distracting.
We must be clear that it is the Gospel and not music that unites us.
Different churches have started offering services with different different music styles for those of different preferences, but it is splitting families and the music is what becomes the church’s central point for people rather than the Gospel.
What is the language for every tongue, people, and nation?  We don’t know.  The importance is that we recognize in our music that “worthy is the lamb who was slain”.
What are we doing to promote and encourage this type of corporate singing?  Leaders must be an example and teach through music.  Members of the church must come with open hearts that are ready to worship the awesome and holy God described in His Word.
Our singing must become more than an event.  It must be life changing.

Concluding Thoughts

I feel that this message was the best explanation of music that I’ve ever heard.  This is something I’d highly recommend for friends and family who have a bent towards the fundamentalist right.  I also appreciated the way that Bob worded his speech.  It was very neutral and non-offensive, but the implications were understood.

2008 Desiring God National Conference



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