Connecting The Gospel To Singing

Connecting The Gospel and Singing



Bob Kauflin
Bob Kauflin

It’s Friday morning and that means it is time for me to introduce you to new and old friends that are making gospel connections.  In todays post Bob Kauflin helps us to connect the gospel to worship and singing.

This post was previously posted by Bob on his blog: Worship Matters.  The post was titled:  Can singing about the gospel become rote?
Thank you Bob for allowing me to use of this post!
One of the drums I will never tire of beating is this:

All biblical worship is rooted in and made possible by the cross of Christ.

In my experience, the contemporary church (and any church, for that matter) is always in danger of neglecting the gospel in its songs. I said it this way in my book, Worship Matters:The gospel is not merely one of many possible themes we can touch on as we come to worship God. It is the central and foundational theme. All our worship originates and is brought into focus at the cross of Jesus Christ.Glorying in Jesus Christ means glorying in his cross. That doesn’t mean looking at some icon or two pieces of wood nailed together. Nor does it imply that every song we sing has the word cross in it. It has little to do with church gatherings that are more like a funeral than a celebration.The cross stands for all that was accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. It focuses on his substitutionary death at Calvary but includes everything that gave meaning to that act. His preexistent state in glory. His incarnation. His life of perfect obedience. His suffering. His resurrection. His ascension. His present intercession and reign in glory. His triumphant return.I will always plead that worship pastors lead gospel-centered worship that is characterized by:

  • an awareness that the cross/gospel should be referenced somewhere in the time of singing.
  • viewing the gospel as our primary motivation for praising God.
  • helping people understand that only Jesus enables us to approach God – not music, musicians, worship leaders, or particular worship songs.
  • encouraging congregations to be most enthusiastic about the theme the Bible is the most enthusiastic about – the Lamb of God who was slain.

When the Gospel Loses Its Power
But over the years I’ve seen learned that this vital truth can be misapplied. We can practice gospel-centered corporate worship in a way that is more obligatory than faith-filled. What once magnified the glory of Christ becomes lifeless repetition. My friend, Jon Payne, shared some thoughts with me on this topic that I found helpful. He pointed out that a formulaic approach to gospel-centered worship can lead to some of the following problems:

  • thinking every song should be exclusively about justification, boldness before the throne, or our sins being completely forgiven.
  • thinking every song list should climax with a “gospel” song.
  • an inability to reference or articulate uniquely other aspects of the gospel – adoption, reconciliation, union with Christ, etc.
  • a scarcity of other themes in our songs such as the wisdom of God, the eternity of God, the power of God, the incarnation, the kingship of Christ, heaven.
  • worshiping a doctrine rather than allowing that doctrine to lead us to a living Savior. We are not “crowning the gospel with many crowns.”

Leading gospel-centered worship in a faithless way can lead to some bad fruit:

  • The gospel and the Savior lose glory in the eyes of bored worshipers.
  • People develop a limited view of God and his attributes.
  • People don’t learn how to apply the gospel to other areas of life/Biblical themes.
  • The gospel becomes a crude, repetitive statement of facts rather than a lens through which we view all of life.
  • We think an explicit reference to the gospel makes our worship acceptable, rather than trust in a crucified and risen Savior.
  • Rather than expecting to encounter God because of the gospel people come expecting to repeat faithless facts.

It’s our responsibility as leaders to make sure, as the Puritans said, that we always “labor to be affected by the cross.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest news the world has ever heard and our singing should show it.

What have you done to make sure that singing about Christ’s redemptive work on the cross never becomes rote?


You can follow Bob’s blog here:  Worship Matters




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5 thoughts on “Connecting The Gospel To Singing”

  1. Wonderful to meet an old friend again, I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to be in meetings where Bob was the worship leader. He brought the attention where it should be, on Christ. Many years ago at a small group conference Bob lead us in the song
    “Hallelujah what a Savior”. The words affected me in a way so powerful I don’t know how to fully explain. Whenever I have occasion to sing it now I get the chills. Oh yes what a Savior and I’m undone with that knowledge.

  2. I am thankful for worshipful music…getting up at 4AM and rushing around to get out of the house by 5AM is challenging. I always have a worship CD ready to play during my 20 minute commute to work. Focusing on the Lord through music prepares me for the day to come.

    1. Great thoughts in these comments above. Angie, we would all do well if we were more intentional with the commute and other mundane moments in our day. When we seize the mundane moments, like a commute…… And sing truths about our Savior we are connecting the gospel to everyday life.

  3. Great insights by Mr. Kauflin, and yours on utilizing the mundane moments as opportunity for worship as well.

    On a tangential note, let me throw this out… I tend to consciously avoid listening to “sacred music” casually, for example when I’m at work and focused on my work. When I use the term “sacred music”, I’m not talking about Z-88’s playlist, but music that I would categorize as worship music. I think that if I listen to it casually (like I would to Kutless or Yanni…as “background noise” to life), without fully engaging, that it will become “common” to me. While I do want the gospel to permeate my life, I don’t want it to become background noise. Any thoughts?

    Disclaimer: I’m not saying it is or isn’t a bad practice for anyone else…I just know my tendencies.

    1. Good thoughts David! I agree, I think we can tend to turn on worship music and it is only background noise. I do understand what you are seeking to preserve. There certainly can be some personal preferences on this and I think you are right in saying… “I just know my tendencies.” What I am after in the post is to say – we can engage God and worship during the mundane moments of life. I.E. Seize the drive time….Not to just turn on a different kind of background noise…. but for genuine worship. For instance: I like to use my drive time to memorize and review scripture. In saying that, I am not negating your comment, just clarifying mine. thanks for commenting David and thanks for following Gospel Connections!! We miss you guys!

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