The Future of Worship: Passing the Baton

j0387426-11At WorshipGod09:From Generation to Generation, I gave the last message on The Future of Worship, based on Ps. 78:1-8. The previous messages had dealt mostly with the biblical values of worship we want to pass on to future generations – the nature of God, the importance of the heart, the role of leadership, the significance of the local church, and more. The question I asked in my message was: What do we need to keep in mind as we seek to transfer these and other biblical values of worship to the next generation?

In preparing for the message I came across some comments from Nigel Hetherington, the Scottish National Sprints and Hurdles coach. He described what is most important for runners in a relay race to remember. A number of his recommendations relate directly to how we pass on the biblical values of worship from one generation to the next.

The race is about the baton, not the runners.
If you run without the baton, no matter how fast you’re running, your race is in vain. For worship leaders, the baton is the gospel. The gospel – Jesus’ substitutionary death for sinners that reconciled us to God – must always inform everything we pass on. It is the gospel that transforms our dead works into acceptable offerings (1 Pet. 2:5) and draws our attention to the glory of the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:6-10).

The relay brings out the best in every runner.
Oddly enough, a properly-trained 400 meter relay team will post a time that is faster than the four runners’ combined 100 meter times. We will serve our churches better and pass on biblical values more effectively if we’re more conscious of those running before and after us. Bryan Chappell, in his excellent book Christ-Centered Worship, says:

We should not ignore the wisdom of church forebears just because it’s old, or automatically reject it just because we didn’t’ think of it. We consider the history because God does not give all of his wisdom to any one time or people (16).

Practice until the handover becomes instinctual.
Athletes must learn to trust one another. Rather than looking back, the outgoing runner should be trained to respond to a ‘hand’ command. Both runners are looking ahead, but it’s the responsibility of the previous runner to make sure the baton is passed. If I’m part of the “passing” generation, I want to be sure that I’m not always looking back to what’s worked for me or the practices that I’m most comfortable with. I want my eyes on what God might be doing in the future, and make sure the next generation really catches what’s most important.

The baton exchange should occur at very close to maximum speed.
The incoming athlete should not be overstretched, or he will be off-balance when making the exchange. The outgoing runner must focus on reaching full speed and only put his hand back when he receives the ‘hand’ command. This means that we must intentionally stay close to and learn from generations before and after us.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the story of Asaph, a man whose legacy demonstrated how one man faithfully passed on the biblical values of corporate worship to future generations.

(For another take on Ps. 78:1-8 that’s more geared to passing on the gospel to future generations, check out the exceptional message Jared Mellinger preached at our last Pastors’ Conference. You can download it here.)

7 Responses to The Future of Worship: Passing the Baton

  1. Clif Cummings September 2, 2009 at 3:04 PM #

    This message “hit a home-run” for me because it relates to exactly where I am in attempting to lead our 120 year old church to reach the next generations with the Gospel. We cannot disregard our heritage – but we must not remain there!
    To God be the glory for giving you this message. I will borrow from it liberally in the days ahead.

  2. Catherine Singleton September 2, 2009 at 5:09 PM #

    Thank you for the insight, especially that the race is about the baton not the runners. I am so easily pulled by individual requests that I forget to the gospel is why we do what we do.

  3. Phil September 3, 2009 at 5:55 AM #

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for this fantastic blog post – great analogy! I particularly like the bit about intentionally “staying close to generations before and after us”.

    Looking forward to your next post!



  4. Kyle September 3, 2009 at 12:50 PM #

    Great analogy, and a great message.

    One of the take-home sentences from the conference for me was one you uttered during this message you said (and I’m paraphrasing): How can we pass on the biblical values of worship to the next generation if we can’t even sing in the same room with them?


  5. Jason Lapp September 3, 2009 at 2:01 PM #


    Great encouragement and insight. Thanks this will be used.

    Side question: Is the Sons and Daughters CD ever going to be on iTunes?

    Grace upon grace,

    • Bob Kauflin September 3, 2009 at 2:18 PM #

      Jason, thanks for the encouragement. CD Baby is in the process of getting Sons & Daughters on iTunes. We don’t have any control over it at the moment. Hopefully, in the next few weeks. Thanks for asking.


  1. Handing over the Creed | Liturgy - June 21, 2013

    […] As well as any other comments, people who have experienced this or participated in it might add their own reflection. image source […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes