Bob Kauflin offers important principles for worship leaders early in their ministry as they choose songs for their church.
"You don’t want your song choices to be dictated by your musical limitations. Understanding there are some songs that are out of reach, you want to work to make those songs within reach."
"Our goal is to remember, proclaim, and celebrate God’s worthiness, works, and Word."
"Our goal is to inform minds with gospel truth, move hearts with gospel implications, and motivate lives worthy of the gospel."
"Our songs should contain biblical proportions. There are verses in the Psalms that talk about our longing or hunger for God, but those wouldn't make up the bulk of songs. So if our songs do that mostly, they’re out of proportion."
"Our songs can err in one of two ways: they can approach God in a way that's too flippant, or they can make it seem like we can’t get near to God at all."
"Our songs should bring biblical clarity. A friend said, 'The gospel brings us out of darkness into light; our songs shouldn’t reverse that process.’”
"Our goal is to equip and encourage people in their battles against sin, suffering, self-sufficiency, and self-deception."
"We’re aiming simply to move people emotionally. We want to give them shepherding care for their souls through the songs we’re singing. We’re not simply trying to have a good performance, we’re not trying to give people a satisfying emotional experience personally. We’re equipping them for the fight."
"Choose songs so you can have a congregation that actually sings. 1. Sing songs people can sing. 2. Sing songs people actually want to sing—so they love singing. 3. Sing songs people should sing."
"To care for people’s souls specifically, we have to move beyond thinking of songs in simply musical or stylistic terms."
"If the primary way I categorize the songs I lead on Sunday is tempo and key, I’m neglecting the most important way the Spirit works in our hearts, which is the Word of Christ communicated in our lyrics."
"If you hear a song and you love it, but then you read through the lyrics and go, 'That’s really not saying much,' don’t do it.”
"There should be a progression in our songs. Throughout church history, cohesion and progression have been the norm. If you don’t know why your songs go together, don’t expect the Holy Spirit to fill in the gaps—he can, but just don’t assume that."
"When we lead people to sing, we’re putting words, emotions, thoughts, perspectives, and responses in people’s mouths. And it should make sense.”
“If people didn’t have the sermons, how well would they know God through the songs you sing after a year?"