Bob Kauflin has been a song leader and writer for over 35 years, and is now Director of Sovereign Grace Music, where he teaches church leaders about congregational worship. Although music is at the heart of Kauflin’s ministry, the book is much more broadly based. As the subtitle says, it looks at worship from God’s perspective; as the one who is the source, inspiration and focus of our praise.
A sequence of chapters analyses the character of true worshippers as they receive from God, encounter and exalt him, anticipate his nearer presence, and assemble to edify one another. Much of the book is a renunciation of false notions of worship and a plea for a return to its roots in heart devotion to God. Each chapter is worthwhile, particularly those on our inability and on Christian maturity. Two chapters are devoted to music in worship, which Kauflin admits can cause problems. The author even goes so far as to admit his own crisis of conscience from the mid-1990s, when he felt convicted of searching for earthly approbation rather than the praise of God. However, Kauflin is scarcely thoroughgoing enough in his critique of contemporary praise, especially given its significant impact on worshippers’ theology. Very little is said about regulating our praise books by the word of God, or of following Jesus’ example of using the Psalms in worship. His suggestions of how to deal with “shallow or vague lyrics”, or struggles with the accoutrements of worship, also place the responsibility squarely with the individual, rather than the church.
Taking the book as a whole, however, it has to be granted that the author’s approach is well-grounded in Scripture, excellently clear and readable, and lively in its use of anecdotes and personal reminiscences. Kauflin wears his heart on his sleeve, but his confessions are endearing rather than cloying, and there is real substance on almost every page.
A version of this review was originally published in 'The Record'.
Donald Mackay, Knox Church, Perth