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Worship Matters!
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Written by Stephanie Nickel

In February of this year, thirteen members of Eastwood Fellowship Baptist Church in St. Thomas loaded up two vans and headed off to the Music Matters conference in Lansing, Michigan.

Bob Kauflin, writer of Worship Matters and speaker at the conference, has not only spent years studying the Scriptures, he is obviously a man who worships in spirit and truth. It comes through clearly as he leads in song and as he speaks, also in the lyrics of the songs he has written.

"The Worship Matters conference really challenged me to see worship in music as a whole person exercise to the glory of God," says Pastor Doug, senior pastor at Eastwood. "He commands that I love and worship Him with all my heart (whole being), soul (emotions), mind (intellect), and strength (body). The challenge refreshed my sense of being totally devoted to God and released to express it fully and publicly, recognizing that we are to 'admonish one another with hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs.' Sharing the vertical worship includes a meaningful, shared, and encouraging horizontal relationship amongst the people of God. It has really lit a fire."

Sharon, a musician and first year Bible college student, says, "Connecting with other followers of Christ and having the opportunity to come together to worship was an absolutely amazing experience."

She goes on to say, "The Conference was a great reminder that we shouldn't forget how good the Good News is and that when worshiping a God so great and mighty, we need to rightly respond."

Asked if she sensed any change in the worship experience at church, Sharon said, "Since the conference, I've definitely felt a sense of change at Eastwood in the fact that people are starting to realize that worship is not simply music and that coming together as a body of Christ in corporate worship is just a small taste of what Heaven will be like. I've also felt the change in the fact that we are now starting to realize that there is absolutely no need to be ashamed about how we should be worshiping, whether that be clapping or raising our hands. Overall, I am really excited to see Eastwood grow as a body and am very much looking forward to what else God has in store."

Anette, a worship team singer, shares from her heart. "The past few Sundays have been an amazing experience. I feel a shell has been broken off of me that had been restricting my worship. I feel free now to glorify Him and Him alone—the way I feel comfortable. All glory to the Lamb!"

She also came to realize the practical aspects of preparing oneself for worship. "Saturday nights I put out everything from my clothes to makeup and shoes, ready for Sunday morning. I used to spend too much time figuring out what to wear. I now decide Saturday night. I leave earlier than I used to so, if there are any 'delays' on the way to church or when I arrive, I am not rushing and getting flustered. I want to remain focused and aware that there are those walking in the door who may not know the Lord. I need to be friendly and welcoming—and ready to worship."

Aislinn, another of the many gifted singers at Eastwood, says, "The worship conference was an excellent time of learning and reflecting on the real reasons we worship God through music and song. It was presented with great passion and knowledge by Bob Kauflin, who provided scriptural references reflecting all the points and arguments made over the weekend."

Of course, personal musical tastes can cause problems in the church. What impacted Aislinn and others was Kauflin's insightful teaching. "As far as musical styles are concerned, we are to disregard personal taste and express our gratefulness for God's grace in as many ways as we can. We need to realize…if one of our brothers or sisters in Christ is able to worship more deeply with a certain song that may not reflect our personal preference, then we should celebrate that."

When Stephanie first heard about the conference, she figured her husband, the music director at Eastwood, would go, but that she would stay home. At the leadership's urging, she reconsidered…and she is very glad she did.

She says, "I especially enjoyed our brainstorming sessions on Friday and Saturday evenings. It was wonderful to hear other's thoughts on what they were learning. It made me feel so much closer to each of them. I also enjoyed the last session. Bob Kauflin taught us about the importance of worshiping God with all we are."

When referring to Psalm 106, Kauflin emphasized, "My God is so great I want to praise Him with my whole being!"

Kauflin also said, "Worship is all of me responding to all of whom God has revealed Himself to be"

Aislinn expresses this well when she says, "We must worship both vertically and horizontally, ensuring what is done is done for the glorification of God, as well as edification of the body."

A man of few words, Dave says it struck him again that we should "sing what we mean and mean what we sing." He also says he feels as if he has been "set free." And when the music director feels free to truly worship God, good things are bound to happen.

Aislinn's words should express our ultimate goal. "What we sing is an overflow of what is in our hearts, knowing God is all we want, need, and hope for."