(Eds. note: Jake asked Bob Kauflin a couple of questions in anticipation of The Gathering, a worship conference hosted by Crosspointe Church and Redeemer Church in Lake Nona, Florida. We hope you can join us! Register for the conference here.
Bob Kauflin is a pastor, songwriter, worship leader, and author with over thirty-five years experience. After pastoring for 12 years, including along with Benny at a church in Northern Virginia, he became director of Sovereign Grace Music in 1997. He oversees the production of their albums and teaches on congregational worship through WorshipGod and The Gathering conferences, seminars, and his blog, worshipmatters.com. He is currently an elder at Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky, although he unfortunately continues to refuse to make a country music Sovereign Grace album :(. He and his wife, Julie, have six children and an ever-growing number of grandchildren.)
1. What was the origins of The Gathering? What is the vision?
The Gathering was originally both a conference and an album we recorded in 2011. The purpose was to walk through the gospel in song. A few years later, we did a one day version in Orange County, CA, and the idea for The Gathering mini-conference was born. It enables us to offer the content of that album in a shorter context, seeking to serve and equip pastors, worship leaders, song writers, and musicians as they serve their local churches. The focus is to help us understand how the gospel is meant to affect not only the songs we sing and the sermons we preach, but the structure of our meetings. Our hope is that people would leave our time together better understanding why the greatest thing we can do when we gather as the church is to rehearse, revel in, and respond to the glorious good news that Jesus Christ has died on the cross for our sins to reconcile us to God.
2. What differentiates The Gathering from other worship conferences?
Many worship conferences focus on the practical side of serving the church musically. This conference contains that aspect, but we also emphasize theological foundations and matters of the heart. Most of all, people who attend this conference better understand how the good news of the gospel is meant to shape our times together as a church.
3. What are you most excited about regarding this year’s The Gathering? Is there a particular theme?
This is the first time we will be hosting this conference in Florida. So that’s exciting. We’ll also be offering additional seminars on topics that include growing in your passion for God, pursuing the gifts of the Spirit, and putting songs together. We’re delighted that we’re putting on this conference in conjunction with CrossPointe church, another gospel preaching church in the Orlando area.
4. After other conferences, I often hear discussed the fact that hearing such excellent sermons from such luminaries as Dr. Piper, Dr. Keller, Kevin “Not a Doctor” Deyoung etc. etc. can have the unintended consequence of making conference-goers dissatisfied with their own local church and pastor. Do you think the same danger exists as it pertains to worship conferences? If you do, what do you do (if anything) to try to help ensure that people don’t leave the conference thinking “Man, my worship leader isn’t nearly as good as Bob/Devon” or worship leaders from thinking “Man, my band couldn’t possible play like that”?
That’s a problem I’ve been aware of in numerous conferences I’ve attended. Many of the musicians we see are professional. It can be inspiring and at the same time, discouraging. So every time we put on a conference we have small churches in mind. We don’t use heavy technology, and our primary emphasis is on supporting congregational singing, not displaying our musical prowess. We encourage people in developing their skills, all the while reminding them that while God can use our gifts to do his work, he doesn’t need them.
5. Tell us a little bit about your most recent book, “True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God”. What inspired you to write it? How is it different than “Worship Matters”? And does this book forever end the debate as to whether it should be spelled “worshipers” or “worshippers”?
My first book, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, was directed towards leaders and those who plan Sunday meetings. I wrote True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God for people in the congregation. This is the book Crossway thought I was going to write when I wrote my first book. Despite the modern worship phenomenon, I think a lot of Christians still have a shallow or culturally influenced understanding of God-exalting worship. We tend to think of it as the music we sing, a feeling, or an atmosphere. My hope is that True Worshipers would clear up some of those misconceptions, and encourage people to pursue becoming the kind of worshiper Jesus says the Father is seeking in John 4:23-24. That affects both what we do in our meetings as well as what we do in our daily lives. And while both spellings are accepted (worshiper and worshipper), I prefer one “p” because it’s easier to type.
(Eds note: You can purchase this excellent book here)
6. What are some new books you’ve read or music you’ve listened to this past year that you found helpful as it pertains to theology and worship?
-Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God was a great read. Comprehensive, scholarly, pastoral.
-I’m enjoying The Message of Worship by John Risbridger. Sermons on worship that emphasize the foundation of the Word, the centrality of the gospel, and the power of the Spirit.
-Musically, I enjoyed Indelible Grace VII: Look to Jesus. Some great hymns revisited. Also, Revive Us Again, by Joel and Pat Sczebel, and Sandra McCracken’s Psalms.