Thoughts from Mark Dever and David Powlison

Yesterday I posted answers to two questions I asked the speakers who will be addressing us at next week’s WorshipGod08 conference. The questions were: “What do you hope will be filling people’s minds and hearts as they walk away from your message?” and “How do you hope your message will change the way they think about the Psalms and worshiping God?”

Today I wanted to share two more responses, this time from Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and David Powlison, author and biblical counselor with the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation.

Mark Dever (Glorifying Christ with the Psalmist)

I pray that people will see how great Jesus Christ is, and how gloriously He is displayed in the Psalms.

Popularly, I think we go to the Psalms often for empathy in our own individual experience with God.  We go when we’re happy & want to express joy, and we go when we’re sad and want to express sorrow.  I hope that we will continue to do that, but also see the psalms more Christocentrically.  I hope that we will exalt Jesus Christ because of the insight we gain from the Psalms.

David Powlison (Enduring Hardship with the Psalmist)

I hope people will be thinking, “The psalms are ABOUT what life is about. And life is always playing variations on a theme: the human predicament, the hardships of sin and suffering, the Lord our God who intervenes with mercies, who reveals Himself so that we know Him and abound in hope. That’s so for me. It’s so for every person gathering here to worship.”

One change I hope to see is that worship leaders will bring a greater “emotional range” to their leadership. It’s easy to become monochromatic, defining “worship” as one particular emotion or experience, rather than as many complementary and nuanced experiences. A related change I hope to see is that worship leaders will learn how to more effectively help worshipers to personalize what they sing. So much truth flies by so fast. It’s a challenge to rivet truth to the heart so that it becomes effective in producing honest worship.

David will also be teaching a workshop on Psalm 131: A Calm and Peaceful Heart in which he’ll provide hope for our ongoing battle against sins like pride, envy, and anxiety. He answered the same questions for his seminar:

I hope people will have already memorized the psalm! — and will have a half-dozen immediate personal applications in mind. Any time a sinner is placed in any kind of leadership position/role, it can prove to be fertile ground for mutant things to grow up inside us. Psalm 131 is sanity. Psalm 131 expresses sanity, rolling back all the insanities.

One change I hope to see is that worship leaders will slow down. This is a take-it-slow psalm, and it rewards those who are willing to poke along, who take time to think, who learn how to ponder truth carefully and fruitfully. Our culture doesn’t allow many opportunities for a “slow food meal” and thoughtful engagement with one thing at a time. Worship is a place the church can become refreshingly countercultural for people living in a fast-food, sound-bite, snap-decision, multi-tasking milieu. A related change I hope to see is that worship leaders will become more conscious and more effective in making the movement from “first person” (what’s going on inside them) to “second and third person” (what’s going on in gathered worshipers). Psalm 131, like many psalms, starts out first person, and then reaches out to draw in my brothers and sisters.

What I hope all these answers make clear is that listening to God’s Word being preached is just as much “worship” as singing is, and provides as much, if not more, opportunity for God to work in our hearts. Which I’m praying he’ll do for everyone at the conference.

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9 Responses to Thoughts from Mark Dever and David Powlison

  1. Tim Wilson July 25, 2008 at 8:49 AM #

    The conference sounds great. Will the talks be put on the internet for people to listen to later?

  2. Bob Kauflin July 25, 2008 at 11:59 AM #


    We’re planning on posting on the Sovereign Grace website all of the main sessions and all the seminars we recorded at the conference. They’ll be available for free download.

  3. Tim Wilson July 26, 2008 at 2:03 PM #

    Excellent. Obviously being in the UK can’t make it but it sounds a good conference. My prayers for its success.

  4. JD Longmire July 29, 2008 at 12:04 PM #

    I am very heartened by the re-emphasis toward the Psalms’ authority in worship. In no other place do we have such a clear picture of what NT worship should resemble.

    As the apostle said:

    Colossians 3:16
    Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    In terms of worship, I believe we should practice “Prescriptive Psalmody” :)

  5. Richard July 30, 2008 at 5:04 AM #

    Sound like a very interesting conference!

  6. anne July 30, 2008 at 4:58 PM #

    Why just worship with Psalms only, what about the “hymns and spiritual songs” in Col. 3:16?

  7. Bob Kauflin July 30, 2008 at 11:41 PM #


    We aren’t planning to worship God with Psalms only, but to rediscover how much they have to say about how we are to worship God no matter what kind of songs we use.

  8. David Kelly August 2, 2008 at 12:17 AM #

    WOW! It is late Friday evening, and I just wanted to say how unbelievably blessed, encouraged, challenged and edified I have been through these last few days of the conference.

    Unfortunately, we need to leave Saturday morning in order to make it back to the mid-west to lead worship on Sunday…thank you for opening up the Psalms and bringing a depth of understanding that we will take back to our church.

    I have attended worship leader conferences for many years – this has been the deepest.

    Thank you.

  9. Janet Henderson August 3, 2008 at 3:35 PM #

    Our family of three was at the conference and were all blessed and very glad we went as this was the first WORSHIPGOD conference we have been to. We learned much and were greatly encouraged. Even though we are tired after the long drive home (12 hours) we are re-energized in our service to the God we love.
    Thanks so much for all the efforts made by all participants for us. It was worth it! I can hardly wait to listen to the workshops I could not go to because of your downloads. Many thanks!

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