We recently hosted Bob Kauflin, Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries. Bob has written numerous gospel-centered songs for worship, the book Worship Matters: Leading Others To Encounter The Greatness Of God, and many informative blog posts at worshipmatters.com. He’s an experienced worship leader, recording artist, music arranger, mentor, and a good friend to all of us at Sojourn. Get Risen, the latest Sovereign Grace album, right here.
Pastor Mike Cosper has remarked many times that he considers Bob a key mentor, seeking his advice on everything from heart issues to music publishing. Pastor Daniel Montgomery has also told me several times how a conversation with Bob years ago cemented Daniel’s conviction that the cross should be central to preaching, corporate worship and all of life. And I have personally benefited many times from Bob’s writings on worship, songwriting and gospel-living. My copy of Worship Matters is dog-eared and marked up with highlighters throughout the book, and worshipmatters.com is on my daily reading list.
Bob spoke led a two-part Songwriting workshop at our Midtown Campus. Audio recording difficulties have prevented us from being able to publish the first part of the workshop, however:
- You can listen to Part Two in the sojournchurch.com Resource page, right here (or from our free Sojourn Church podcast on iTunes). During this session, Bob taught extensively about writing songs for children. Then he answered questions on a wide range of songwriting topics in a Q&A session.
- Read Bob Kauflin’s notes from the entire songwriting workshop below (or Download The Document Here):
SOJOURN SONGWRITERS MEETING, June 11, 2011
I. Why do we Christians worship God in song? (Col. 3:16, 2 Cor. 4:7)
A. To remember God’s Word in Christ
B. To respond to God’s grace in Christ
C. To reflect God’s glory in Christ
II. What makes a great congregational song?
- Bad standards:
- I like it and it moves me
- People in my church like it
- It’s really creative musically
- It’s really creative lyrically
- No one else is singing it
- Good standards:
- Easy to sing (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19)
a) Singing is something God commands all Christians to do together, not just professionals.
b) Reasonable range
c) Step-wise movement
d) Not too many unexpected twists
e) Minimum of soloist-type embellishments
- Easy to learn
a) That’s the goal
b) Maximizes the time the church spends together
c) Melody, rhyme, meter all play a part
- Easy to understand (1 Cor. 14:7-12)
a) By both older and younger Christians
b) There’s a difference between creative imagery and confusing language.
c) The Metaphors are generally sunk to the Level of vulgar Smoothness of Sound, and endeavored to make the Sense plain and obvious; if the Verse appears so gentle and flowing as to incure the Censure of Feebleness, I may honestly affirm, that sometimes it cost me labour to make it so: Some of the Beauties of Poetry are neglected, and some willfully defaced: I have thrown out the Lines that were too sonorous, and given an Allay to the Verse, lest a more exalted Turn of Thought or Language should darken or disturb the Devotion of the plainest Souls. (Watts, Intro to Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707)
- Hard to forget (Dt. 31:19-21)
a) Music that takes advantage of music’s inherent power to aid memory
b) Lyrics that are memorable and progressive. Not fridge-magnet poetry
- Hard to dismiss (Col. 3:16)
a) Affecting, well-crafted, profound.
b) Lyrics that are compelling, addressing the mind, heart, and will
c) Lyrics that inspire the imagination
It is good for the seeker to know that there are riches in God’s truth far beyond his present grasp, riches treasured by Christians through the centuries, that he will never appreciate unless by God’s grace he adopts a whole new way of thinking. (John Frame- Contemporary Worship Music- A Biblical Defense, p 23)
d) Complementary music and lyrics
- Hard to categorize
a) Unifying rather than dividing
c) Not limited in subject matter, but with an intentional gospel awareness
- III. What about worship songs for children?
- “Worship song” is a misnomer.
- We can’t assume that children who sing songs in church are Christian
- The need is great due to the current trend of using adult congregational songs with kids’ voices.
- Priority of proclamation and explanation rather than emotional expression
- Gospel-driven rather than morality-driven
- Melodically engaging