Themes of Worship

2014 Doxology and Theology Conference


Even with all the changes in the worship culture, true worship still lives in the intersection of temptation and suffering. In this 31-minute session from the 2014 Doxology and Theology Conference, Mike Cosper hosts Harold Best, Ron Man, Bob Kauflin, Paul Tripp and Joe Crider in a panel discussion of the themes of worship along with their thoughts and concerns about the progression of corporate worship.

Mike Cosper is the Pastor of Worship and Arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he's served since its founding in 2000. He is the author of Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel and The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth.


Mike Cosper noted that hymns, like "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and "It is Well with My Soul," were born out of suffering and temptation, which is universal to all mankind. Consider your preferred songs and/or hymns. What are the themes? What are some specific lyrics that support that theme?
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When asked about lessons learned from suffering and temptation, panelists talked about personal suffering. Paul Tripp mentioned a recent health issue that revealed a depth of his own fear and discontent that he thought he had grown beyond. Ron Mann said personal suffering drives him back to worship. Harold Best talked about honoring the uniqueness of each person's suffering. 

How has suffering or temptation impacted your personal worship?
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How are you leading others through suffering and temptation in corporate worship?
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When asked about what is encouraging and concerning in the dramatic changes in the culture of worship in the Church, panelists were generally encouraged by the depth of theology. Joe Crider and Paul Tripp talked about the centrality of God's Word—gathering around the gospel and not the song. Bob Kauflin and Ron Mann are encouraged by the growing number of resources and conferences—there is no reason to write or sing a bad song.

Is your worship set more music-centric or Christ-centric? What are you encouraged by in the culture of worship where you lead?
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As they discussed their concerns, Paul Tripp and mentioned a "lack of motion" even within theologically rich music. He feels there needs to be more of a call for transformation from music. Bob Kauflin and Harold Best are concerned the people may miss the object of our worship—idolatry can be found in the trappings of performance or extremes of performing a certain way.

What do you think of their assessments? Do your worship sets call for transformation or meditation? Does the performance of your worship outshine the object of worship? What concerns you in your own context?
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Harold Best tactfully voiced his concern by asking why worship is still typically defined by music. He noted that all corporate worship is worship and there is no biblical basis for the title of Worship Leader. What do you think of his concern? How would you define people's view of music among all the parts of corporate gatherings? What does worship look like outside the walls of the church?
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As Joe Crider mentioned, "Music is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master." May your times of corporate gatherings be Christ-centered, leading people into transformation and unleashing them into their communities as ambassadors for Christ, propelling God's work of redemption.


For more information about the Doxology and Theology Conference and how you can attend an upcoming event, visit: DoxologyandTheology.com.