I first met Dave Gobbett in 2000 when he was in the states. His love for the Savior and the church were almost palpable. He was bursting with enthusiasm for God’s gospel, God’s people, and God’s work.
He also had an appreciation for Sovereign Grace Music that he shared freely once he got back to the UK (as you’ll see below). He played a key role in my leading the music at Word Alive in 2011. Dave now serves as the Lead Minister at Highfields Church, Cardiff, and is a trustee of Word Alive.
I’m grateful that Dave will be teaching a seminar at WorshipGod UK this year called “Secure in Christ.” Recently, he answered a few questions for Evangelicals Now and they kindly gave me permission to post an edited version of Dave’s responses (they’ll post the full interview later this month).
1. How did you get to know and what do you like about the Sovereign Grace work?
I’ve known and loved the work of Sovereign Grace Ministries since 2000 when I spent a year in the US. I was on staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC with Mark Dever, and in the previous year Mark had become friends with CJ Mahaney, a pastor 40 mins from DC and then head of Sovereign Grace. Dever’s friendship spilled over into our respective church staff teams, and I especially enjoyed getting to know Bob Kauflin (Director of Sovereign Grace Music) and Jeff Purswell (the head of Sovereign Grace’s Pastor’s College).
What I continue to love about their work is their unrelenting commitment to proclaiming the glories of God’s grace with both head and heart, and to helping others do the same. They are perhaps best known in the UK for their worship music, which has been a thrill for me to see (in fact when I was at Oak Hill College I had a rather bootleg ministry importing large volumes of Sovereign Grace CDs and selling them on to my fellow students – it was all above board I assure you!). I love their combination of rich doctrine – often updating long forgotten hymns – and strong, anthemic melodies. I imagine that for generations believers will be grateful to Sovereign Grace for giving the church Before the Throne of God Above, I will glory in my Redeemer, O Great God, Behold our God, and Now Why this Fear to name but a handful! (My kids would also want to include Your love will last forever which is a favourite at bedtimes.)
2. How is this conference likely to help the churches in the UK?
As a local church pastor, alongside the teaching of God’s word each week, the corporate worship life of the congregation is one of the most important public things that I’m responsible for. How we sing, how we shape the worship service, how ‘gathered’ worship relates to ‘whole life’ worship,what it means to serve out of the overflow of one’s own worship life: these are all crucial issues that need thinking through, and constantly submitting to the Scriptures.
And the Sovereign Grace Worship God UK conference is a great help in doing all that! I attended one of their first conferences in the US fifteen years ago, and so I was delighted when Bob Kauflin’s team organised one in the UK last year. True to Sovereign Grace form, WGUK was cross-centred, Bible-saturated, gospel-filled and Spirit-fuelled. A range of church traditions were represented – evangelical Anglican, reformed Baptist, FIEC, New Frontiers – and it was supported by the local SGM church Grace Church Bristol, pastored by Nathan Smith. It was also a remarkably generous conference and there was a tangible sense that here were people who evidently wanted to bless every single delegate.
3. Sovereign Grace music tends to be very professional. If churches adopt much more of this it will only widen the gap between the ‘big church’ experience and small churches who can’t compete. What do we do about that?
It’s true that fewer UK congregations will be able to replicate the style of their songs exactly as they sound on the recordings. But that’s the case with most equivalent music by a Townend, Getty or Redman!
However, what I love about Sovereign Grace Music is that many of their songs work as well with a single piano and a room full of voices, or even a solitary guitarist and a house group, as they do with a Word Alive band or a Prom Praise orchestra! My parents’ previous ‘small church’ with their single piano and sixty people who loved Jesus sang the most Sovereign Grace songs of any church I’ve ever been to! If you want to experience that kind of musical style check out the two Together for the Gospel Live CDs produced by Sovereign Grace where the musical accompaniment is a solitary grand piano.
I appreciate the last question and it’s been a concern of ours as well. We’ve sought to narrow the gap by posting stripped down version of some of our songs on YouTube as The Acoustic Sessions and Studio Sessions. We’re planning on doing more this year.
If you want to know more about WorshipGod UK to be held 7th-9th May in Bath, check out the WorshipGod UK: Gathering Around the Gospel website. We’d love for you to join us!
And you can follow Dave on Twitter at: @davegobbett