Dec 7 2020

Worship Farm Teams


Congregations tend to plan and implement in the moment since Sunday comes every single week. So, thinking about keeping younger players or finding future players, singers, or even a primary worship leader is rarely a consideration until a vacancy occurs.

“Player development” is what Major League Baseball calls the grooming of younger, less advanced players in their minor league system. The so-called farm teams provide mentoring, training, coaching, and practical experience for younger players with the expectation that as those players mature, they will advance to a higher level of play and responsibility.

The genius of the farm system is that players get better by playing regularly in smaller venues instead of just waiting for an opening to play in the major leagues. Teams are intentionally investing in younger players for the future. A major-league team with a weak farm system may have success for a time but will rarely carry that success into the future.

The value of worship player development is realized when a congregation attempts to fill a vacancy in their worship-leading team. What most find is that the pool of potential replacements out there is often very shallow. Those who are available are sometimes unknown and don’t always resonate with the culture of the searching congregation.

Implementing a farm-team model of grooming or developing younger, less advanced players from in here can offer a trusted and familiar resource pool for future players, singers, or primary leaders. Investing in those who already understand the culture, personality, worship language, and mission of your church has a far greater potential for future success.

Our success in worship ministry will be judged not just on how well we did it ourselves each Sunday, but on how well we helped train others to do it too. If churches want great worship leaders in the future, they must invest in not-yet-great worship leaders in the present.

Imagine then, one of those congregations so effectively implementing this player-development model that they are able to groom more worship leaders than they actually have places for them to serve. Then imagine the kingdom value of that congregation getting to farm-out those trained leaders to other congregations who were not as prepared to fill their own vacancies.


  • What system do we presently have in place to secure players, singers, and tech substitutes when team members are absent?
  • How are we encouraging younger artists to develop their skills for potential worship leadership in the future?
  • Within the limitations of our budget, leadership, and facilities, how can we implement a formal or informal training process for younger worship leaders?
  • What opportunities do we have or can we create for younger leaders to use their gifts publicly before they are ready to lead in the primary worship services?

The above post is an excerpt from my new book, Better Sundays Begin on Monday: 52 Exercises for Evaluating Weekly Worship, Copyright ©2020 by Abingdon Press. Print and E-Version copies are available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodreadsBooks A MillionCokesbury, and Christian Book.


Nov 30 2020

Scriptureless Worship


A worship service without Scripture reading may not be worship at all.

By limiting Scripture to a single reading prior to the pastoral exhortation, we may be unwittingly implying that we are placing a higher level of credibility in the exhortation than in the Word itself. It may then convey a lack of trust in the very Word professed to be foundational to our faith, doctrines, and practices. If Scripture can’t stand on its own, then we can’t possibly prop it up with our own words.

Robert Webber in Ancient-Future Worship wrote, “We are nourished in worship by Jesus Christ, who is the living Word disclosed to us in the Scriptures, the written Word of God. In spite of all the emphasis we evangelicals have placed on the importance of the Bible, there seems to be a crisis of the Word among us.”[1]

Congregations continue to struggle in their understanding of spirit and truth worship by maximizing music and depending on it alone to encourage worship renewal. At the same time those congregations often minimize the very root from which our songs must spring. John Frame offers two truths that highlight the value of God’s word in our worship: “First, where God’s Word is, God is. We should never take God’s Word for granted. To hear the Word of God is to meet with God himself. Second, where God is, the Word is. We should not seek to have an experience with God which bypasses or transcends his Word.”[2]

The dialogue of worship is formed when God’s word is revealed. This revelation causes worshippers to respond through the prompting of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:12-15; 1 Thess 1:5). The result is a vertical conversation with God and horizontal communion with others. This dialogue develops a community that congregations have been desperately trying to create and recreate through their songs alone.

Some of the crisis of the Word is a result of our standing over the Bible and reading God’s narrative from outside instead of standing within the narrative and reading Scripture from the inside.[3] Reading Scripture as insiders helps us realize the text is not just describing someone else’s story in history but also describing the story of my life, my hope, my joy, my sin, and my journey away from and to God.[4]

As an elementary school teacher, my wife often reads or tells stories to her students to enhance auditory learning, encourage creativity, promote informational development, and advance knowledge. With imagination beyond my comprehension she is able to create stories and insert the names of her classroom children into the narrative, considering the personality and nature of each child. This narrative approach to reading and telling moves the children beyond just hearing the words to actually living inside those words.

When Scripture is read, when it is illuminated in our preaching, when it is incorporated into our prayers of thanksgiving and lament, when it frames the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and when we sing its text in a unified voice, Scripture becomes a means by which we are gathered into the body of the living Lord.[5]

Scripture must be foundational to our songs, sermons, prayers, verbal transitions, and even ministry announcements. It must be frequently, variously, generationally, and culturally read and allowed to stand on its own. When that occurs, our congregations will leave in-here worship, with the text in their hearts and on their lips, for nonstop worship out there.


  • How often are we reading Scripture in our worship services beyond the text for pastoral exhortation?
  • How might we encourage our congregation to not only hear the words of Scripture but also live inside those words?
  • Who usually reads Scripture in our services? Are we enlisting multiple generations, genders, and cultures as readers?
  • What filters should we put in place to help us determine if Scripture is primary instead of secondary in our worship services?

[1] Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 113.

[2] John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth: A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1996), 90.

[3] Webber, Ancient-Future Worship, 113–14.

[4] Webber, Ancient-Future Worship, 130.

[5] John Burgess, “Why Scripture Matters: Reading the Bible in a Time of Church Conflict,” in A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony, ed. Leanne Van Dyk (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2005), 66.

The above post is an excerpt from my new book, Better Sundays Begin on Monday: 52 Exercises for Evaluating Weekly Worship, Copyright ©2020 by Abingdon Press. Print and E-Version copies are available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodreadsBooks A MillionCokesbury, and Christian Book.


Sep 7 2020

Songs That Preach


The following is an excerpt from my new book, Better Sundays Begin on Monday: 52 Exercises for Evaluating Weekly Worship, Copyright ©2020 by Abingdon Press.

Better Sundays Begin on Monday is scheduled to be released next week on September 15. Print and E-Version copies are available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodreadsBooks A MillionCokesbury, and Christian Book.

Preaching is the act of publicly proclaiming, teaching, or making something known. It exhorts, exposits, affirms, corrects, advocates, instructs, responds, and applies. The act of preaching communicates to us, for us, and through us.

A sermon is preached to address and expound on the biblical, theological, doctrinal, and moral issues that impact every generation of every congregation each and every day. And this connectional discourse is intended to challenge those congregants not only to embrace these truths individually but also corporately.

So if the worship songs we select aren’t complementing, resonating, and emulating these same characteristics, we probably need to select different songs. In other words, our songs must also preach.

The Preaching Characteristics of Our Songs

  • Our Songs must reflect and respond to biblical text.

Scripture must organically yield our songs instead of just fertilizing our own contrived language. We must constantly ask if our song text is theologically sound and if it affirms Scripture as central. Songs that do not provoke a response to the Word don’t preach.

  • Our Songs must connect the Word of God to the people of God.

The dialogue of worship through our songs is formed when God’s Word is revealed. This revelation causes the people of God to respond through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The result is a vertical conversation with God and horizontal communion with others. Our songs are the communally uttered words of God.

  • Our Songs must speak the Gospel.

Every song we sing must invite the congregation and guests to be a part of God’s story through Jesus Christ. Our songs should help us understand what God is up to in and through our lives in the name of Jesus. Those songs must sing of the ongoing and enduring work of God through his son, Jesus Christ. And they must constantly remind us that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.

  • Our Songs must be easy to follow and understand.

If congregants can’t follow our songs, then they have difficulty finding value in those songs and consequently can’t be influenced and moved to respond to them and through them. Archaic or colloquial text should be filtered and melodies should be evaluated for singability. Songs that are difficult to follow contribute to ineffectual song sermons.

  • Our Songs must be sung with integrity.

Songs that preach communicate biblically, theologically, and doctrinally. Our songs must be sung with the integrity of adequate external preparation that springs forth from internal conviction. It must be evident that our songs reflect what we believe and practice. Lives must replicate the texts we sing even when we aren’t singing them. Songs sung with integrity engage and express biblical text with inspiration and conviction.

  • Our Songs must engage more than emotions.

Scripture encourages us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Songs that just stir the emotions are incomplete; Songs that do not begin from the depth of our soul are often trite; Songs that don’t require us to think are shallow; and Songs that don’t ask us to use our bodies as a living sacrifice in acts of service are selfish. So our songs must be sung from our entire being.

  • Our Songs must encourage action.

Songs must not only inspire us through our hearing but also challenge us in our doing. They must not only inform the congregation but also engage them. Singing our songs should cause us to ask what is going to change as a result of singing them. Singing in here is not enough until our songs also impact who we are out there. So the songs we sing in our worship service must lead us to acts of service as worship.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16


Apr 13 2020

Was Easter Sunday a Waste of Time?



The Easter Acclamation, “He is risen,” “He is risen indeed” was not only true as we celebrated Easter yesterday, it is also true as we work online from home today. The celebration of Easter is not just a one-day event, it is a daily remembrance of who we are in the risen Christ. As Christ followers we are Easter people so instead of immediately pivoting to the next sermon series or Sunday service calendar emphasis, shouldn’t our celebration of the resurrection continue?

The observance of Easter in the early church was more than just a one-day annual event. Celebrating the Paschal mystery was not only to remember that Christ was crucified and rose again, but also to remember that He appeared following His resurrection, that He ascended, that the Holy Spirit descended and that our Savior promised to return again.

Because of their great joy, early Christians began the celebration and remembrance with Easter and continued for fifty days until Pentecost. Revisiting the mystery and expanding the understanding of the resurrection could assist in worship renewal through the theological realization that this celebration of redemption, sanctification, salvation and victory can’t be limited to a single day.

Some congregations and even entire denominations have not traditionally embraced the sacred time of the Great Fifty Days of Easter and other dates of the Christian calendar primarily out of a concern for rigidity, conformity, loss of autonomy or a fear of appearing too “Catholic.”

Some worship leaders and worshipers believe that spending too much time in those extended seasonal celebrations of the Church can promote sameness. But Timothy Carson wrote, “Exactly the opposite may be true. Because it has stood the test of time, it may be sufficiently deep to allow me to swim more deeply in it. Because it is repeated, I have another chance, today, to go where I could not go yesterday.”[1]

Even as congregations avoid the Christian calendar, they are at the same time affirming annual observances of cultural and denominational days whose foundations are not always biblically grounded.[2] And isn’t it ironic that in the development of those denominational and cultural calendars we have in fact created our own liturgies in our efforts to be non-liturgical?

To avoid Christian calendar days that are celebrated during the same time of the year as the cultural, denominational and civic days is to ignore the very foundation of the Church. So isn’t it possible to converge holidays significant to our cultural and denominational calendar with the Christian holidays significant to the Kingdom?

Why couldn’t we celebrate Mother’s Day, Graduation Sunday and Memorial Day in the same season as Ascension Day and Pentecost? For this shift to occur, however, we must understand the significance of expanding our Easter remembrances. Laurence Hull Stookey wrote, “The explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord is too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day.”[3]

Extending our Easter recognition is based on a deeper understanding of the calendar as an ideal starting point for structuring seasonal worship. The theme of the fifty days of Easter as one single celebration provides a connection with Christians of the past Church and unifies Christians of the present Church in a continuous ecumenical relationship.

Observing Easter for fifty days could help congregations “recover the transforming news that Jesus’ past resurrection dramatically transforms present and future reality.”[4] Additionally, it will help them delight in the knowledge that Jesus’ death and resurrection is stamped on their spiritual biographies.[5]

Expanding your observance of Easter and celebrating other aspects of the Christian year might be a stretch for your congregation. But please make those decisions about this sacred time from a deeper biblical, theological and historical foundation instead of solely on the traditionalism of what your individual congregation or denomination has done in the past.


[1] Timothy L. Carson, Transforming Worship, (St. Louis: Chalice, 2003), 57.

[2] Ibid., 56.

[3] Laurence Hull Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church,  (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 53.

[4] John D. Witvliet, Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows into Christian Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 290.

[5] Ibid.


Mar 16 2020

Worship Has Left the Building


As churches made the difficult decision to meet online instead of in person this weekend we were all reminded that worship couldn’t be contained in a building, location, context or vehicle of communication.

Our worship leadership has sometimes given the impression that we alone have the ability and even right to be the sole instigators of worship in our context. So we’ve often led like worship starts when we start it and ends when we end it. Consequently, we have often expended all of our resources and energy preparing for and leading a single gathered hour on Sunday.

But the unprecedented circumstances of the last couple of weeks have forced us to remember again that worship can occur without us and even in spite of us. As many of us observed thousands of services streaming or pre-recorded on social media it again challenged us that worship happens not only when our congregations gather in our buildings but also when they scatter to their homes.

Harold Best wrote, “If those of us who lead gathered worship are not careful, our actions can imply that time and place worship is the primary, if not only venue for worship, while the remainder of our life falls into another category.”[1]

So as we continue to move forward through the uncertain future of corporate worship, we as worship leaders must lead, model and empower our congregants to not only worship when we are again able to gather but also continue to worship as we have to disperse. Helping them understand how to worship at home continues to fulfill our worship leadership calling and responsibilities just as profoundly as leading a song set does. 


[1] Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 9.


Feb 24 2020

How Can I Keep from Singing?


Although worship can’t be contained in one expression such as music, it is evident from scripture that singing is a significant response to God’s revelation (Ps 63:5; Eph 5:19; Col 3:15-17). One of my former seminary professors once joked, “People who don’t sing should be sent to Sing-Sing until they do sing.”

Reggie Kidd wrote, “Think of singing as a language that allows us to embody our love for our Creator. Song is a means he has given us to communicate our deepest affections, to have our thoughts exquisitely shaped, and to have our spirits braced for the boldest of obediences. Through music, our God draws us deeper into a love affair with himself.”[1]

When writing about the future of Jerusalem, the minor prophet Zephaniah wrote, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph 3:17). So if the Father is singing over me, then how can I keep from singing?

When I can’t find adequate words to express my responses to God’s revelation, Jesus as my worship liturgist sings with me (Heb 8:1-2; 2:12). He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God interceding on my behalf. So if Jesus is singing with me, then how can I keep from singing?

John Wesley was a theologian, evangelist and leader of the revivalist movement known as Methodism. He said this about singing, “Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he comes in the clouds of heaven.”

With biblical and practical instructions such as these, I should be joining in full-throated singing no matter how well or poorly I’m able to sing. Then my voice will be united with the voices of others in communal utterances of praise, thanksgiving, confession, dedication, commitment, lament and response. When that corporate singing occurs our songs will communicate vertically and horizontally in a unified voice so compelling that they can’t possibly be silenced (Ps 30:12). So how can I keep from Singing?


How Can I Keep from Singing

My life flows on in endless song; Amid earth’s lamentation,

I hear the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn that hails a new creation;

Thro’ all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing;

It finds an echo in my soul, how can I keep from singing?


What tho’ my joys and comforts die, the Lord my Helper liveth!

What tho’ the darkness gather round; songs in the night he giveth!

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that refuge clinging;

Since God is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?


I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin; I see the blue above it;

And day by day this pathway smooths since first I learned to love it,

The peace of God makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing;

All things are mine, since I am His – How can I keep from Singing?[2]


[1] Reggie M. Kidd, With One Voice: Discovering Christ’s Song in Our Worship (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 14.

[2] This hymn is Public Domain and was written by American Baptist minister, Robert Wadsworth Lowry.


Feb 17 2020

Things Our Worship Pastors Wish We Knew


Most of us are aware of the investment our worship pastor makes in our own life. What we don’t often calculate, however, is the cumulative time and energy it takes to invest in the same way with the entire population of our congregation.

So here are a few things we might not know about worship pastors that they probably wish we did. The list is not an exhaustive one but hopefully gives us a glimpse into the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual demands required to serve as a worship pastor.

They have a hard time getting out of town

Most churches generously offer their worship pastors time away for vacation, sick leave and conferences. But what we don’t realize is the amount of preparation required for them to actually leave town.

Worship pastors not only have to secure substitutes for all rehearsals and services, they also have to prepare all choral music, band charts, orchestra parts, sound instructions, lighting cues, projection needs, orders of service and printed worship guides before they can be absent. Then they have to communicate and rehearse all of those details with the various proxies they’ve enlisted so worship doesn’t miss a beat while they are gone. In reality, they have to do all of the work they would do if they were still in town before they can ever leave town. So it’s almost easier not to go.

They are sometimes out of gas

We depend on our worship pastors to teach and admonish us with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. They are often our counselors, mentors, leaders, friends and spiritual advisors. When our families are in crisis we look to them to referee, repair and reclaim. And yet at the same time we also expect them to challenge and encourage us with stellar worship every Sunday.

Sometimes they are just flat worn out. So how can we expect them to continue to lead us where they may no longer have the fuel in the tank to go themselves? Phillip Yancey wrote, “I wonder how much more effective our churches would be if we made the pastors spiritual health, not the pastors efficiency our number one priority?”

They face the same struggles we do

Serving as a worship pastor doesn’t automatically mean immunity from the personal struggles of life such as depression, anxiety, physical health issues, marital conflict, rebellious children and financial strain. So with all of those personal and professional stressors, how can we not expect that pain to eventually take the same toll on them as it has on many of us?

Worship pastors know that a culture of expendability is often just as prevalent in church life as it is in the business world. So, to keep from losing their ministry positions, save face with their congregation or protect the financial security of their family, worship pastors often bear a heavy burden to fake it and perform even when they don’t feel like it.

Our worship leaders are called to our churches to serve God and us. So does it seem right and healthy that the functional reality is that no one gets less of the ministry of the body of Christ than our spiritual leaders do?[1] If we as a church aren’t stewarding those leaders God has entrusted to us, then who will?


[1] Adapted from Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 11-12.


May 6 2019

35 Questions First Time Worship Guests Are Probably Asking


We are often good at considering worship details during the services but don’t always consider worship distractions before and after those services. We assume the theological depth of our worship will encourage first time visitors to return and even stay. And that might actually be true if they could ever see past our spatial and structural blind spots.

We’ve all heard the adage about only getting one shot at a first impression. So in addition to evaluating sermons and songs, we should also evaluate our worship spaces and structures. Those first time guests are inevitably asking themselves questions about their worship service visits. If we ask those same questions preemptively before they visit, then maybe their answers will be positive ones when they actually do visit.

Questions First Time Worship Guests Are Probably Asking

  1. Was it easy for us to park?
  2. Was it clear where we were supposed to go once we parked?
  3. Was the building in good repair and were the grounds well kept?
  4. When were we first greeted, if ever?
  5. Did the attitude of the greeter make us feel welcome?
  6. Were we offered coffee and was it excellent, mediocre or bad?
  7. Were the foyer colors and decorations outdated?
  8. Did it seem like people were happy to be there?
  9. Were the handouts timely and of excellent quality?
  10. Was the restroom clean and odor free?
  11. Did we feel safe leaving our child in the children’s area?
  12. How did we figure out where to sit in the worship center?
  13. Did we feel conspicuous?
  14. Was the worship center seating comfortable?
  15. Was there enough light?
  16. Was the temperature at a comfortable level?
  17. Did anyone dress or look like us?
  18. How was the volume of the speaking and music?
  19. Did the leaders use language we didn’t understand?
  20. How was the service flow and pace?
  21. Did the service seem too long?
  22. Was the worship service order easy to follow or confusing?
  23. Was it easy to participate musically?
  24. Was the music presented with excellence?
  25. Was the music culturally relevant for us?
  26. Were the video projection elements presented with excellence?
  27. Did we feel welcome to participate in all worship elements?
  28. Was the sermon easy to follow and meaningful?
  29. Did any of the service elements make us feel uncomfortable?
  30. Did anything in the service distract us?
  31. Did we know what to do when the worship service was over?
  32. Did anyone speak to us after the service?
  33. Were the members friendly, unfriendly or disinterested?
  34. Did the leaders seem approachable?
  35. Will we come back based on our observations?

Nov 19 2018

Is Our Worship Wasting God’s Time?


KairosOur English language has only one word for time. But the ancient Greeks used two different words to distinguish between chronological time and theological time.

Chronos is sequential time that is orderly, rhythmic and predictable. It is time that is externally controlled, can be measured by a clock and is quantitative.

Kairos is the time not measured by the clock, but the moment God has chosen. It is time that could disrupt the normal flow of tradition, habits, methods and ways of thinking. Kairos is qualitative and cannot be humanly manipulated or controlled.

We can’t create theological time or God moments through our song selections, emotions or orders of worship. That holy time doesn’t originate from our own innovations, desire for relevance or by following a recipe for worship success observed in other churches.

The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes understood Kairos time when he wrote, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4). When Jesus’ brothers failed to understand who he was, he tells them, “My time (Kairos) has not yet arrived, but your time (Kairos) is always at hand” (John 7:6).

Fr. Ken Kulinski communicates a deeper understanding of Kairos:

Kairos time is the moment of undetermined length in which the eternal (God and His story) breaks into the temporal (me and my story), shattering and transforming it, and prepares the temporal to receive the eternal. It is in this moment in which the conditional cancels itself out and makes itself the instrument of the unconditional.[1]

In a Chronos approach to worship, a congregation asks God to enter its story or the story of its own making. In a Kairos approach, the congregation is asked to enter God’s story. Kairos might occur in the former but has already occurred in the latter.

So here is a question we should ask as we plan and lead worship each week: “Are we missing Kairos moments in our efforts to manufacture creative worship services?” God has provided Scripture, prayer and the Lord’s Supper as Kairos opportunities for us to join His story. So in our creativity and innovation are we minimizing His time (Kairos) in order to give more time (Chronos) to other service elements of our own making?

[1] adapted from Fr. Ken Kulinski, “Kairos-God’s Time.” CowPi Journal, 9 October 2003. Database on-line. Available from


Oct 24 2018

Worship Word Wednesday



Aug 27 2018

Robert Webber Ancient-Future Worship Quotes


ancient futureIn his Ancient-Future book series, Robert E. Webber wrote of his longing to discover the roots of our faith. He affirmed Scripture as foundational and the final authority in matters of faith and practice, including worship. Webber also desired unity in the church so he referenced sources from the entire history of the church. And he argued that our road to the future is not an innovative new start, but a future that runs through the past.

The following quotes are taken from Ancient-Future Worship in that series. In this book, as you will see from these selected quotes, Webber outlines how worship does God’s story.[1]


“We experience God in more than songs and segues.”


“Worship proclaims, enacts and sings God’s story.”


“Worship is not a program. Nor is worship about me. Worship is a narrative – God’s narrative of the world from its beginning to its end. How will the world know its own story unless we do that story in public worship?”


“Not only does worship point to the culmination of all history in the new heavens and new earth, but it also shapes the ethical behavior of God’s people to reflect kingdom ethics here on earth.”


“In many of our churches today there is a neglect of remembrance in worship. It arises from the loss of attention to the whole Bible. A shift has taken place toward a focus on therapeutic or inspirational preaching and to the rise of entertainment or presentational worship.”


“One does not need to become liturgical to become more biblical in worship.”


“Worship is not that which I do, but that which is done in me.”


“God, through worship, works on me through his story to elicit praise on my lips and obedience in my living. When this happens, worship takes place.”


“Because God is the subject who acts upon me in worship, my participation is not reduced to verbal responses or to singing, but it is living in the pattern of the one who is revealed in worship.”


“One crisis of Scripture is that we stand over the Bible and read God’s narrative from the outside instead of standing within the narrative and reading Scripture as an insider.”


“The mystery of God’s presence has been lost and replaced with an empty symbolism. Many Christians and even pastors and leaders of the church have acted indifferently to God’s presence at the Table, transferring it to music or dropping it completely.”


“The whole act of worship says, ‘God, we are here to remember your story and to pray that the whole world, the entire cosmos, will be gathered in your Son and brought to the fulfillment of your purposes in him.’”


“Worship instead of being a rehearsal of God’s saving actions in the world, and for the world, is exchanged for making people feel comfortable, happy, and affirmed.”


“Worship, no longer the public prayer of God’s people, becomes a private and individual experience. Beneath the privatization of worship is the ever-present individualism of our culture. This focus on the self results in prayers that are concerned with my life, my needs, my desires – prayers that seem indifferent to the needs of the poor and the problem of violence and war that devours nations and societies and ignores the works of God in Christ to bring to an end all evil, death, and sin.”


“Nowhere in Scripture or in the history of the church have hymns and songs ever been held as a replacement for Word and Table.”


“Word and Table remain the God-ordained way to remember God’s saving deeds in history and anticipate his final triumph over death and all that is evil. So if you want to do ancient-future worship, learn God’s story and do it in Word and Table and use hymns and songs for responses not only from the great treasury of the church through the centuries but also from music that is current.”


[1] All thoughts and quotes taken from Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative (Grand Rapids: Baker 2008).


Aug 13 2018

Why Worship Leaders Should Get A Real Job


jobNow that I have your attention, leading worship is indeed a worthy calling and vocation that requires preparation, education and skills. And yes, it is a real job. But what if opportunities were no longer available for you to lead worship vocationally?

What if you needed to voluntarily or were forced involuntarily to step aside from vocational worship leadership for an interim or extended period of time? Or if you’re a student preparing for vocational worship ministry, what if you don’t immediately land a position after graduation? What would or could you do in these instances to provide for your family while still responding to God’s call? Some of us have found ourselves in similar situations only to realize we are not trained or are not training to do anything else.

Statistics show that 95% of churches average 350 or less in worship and that 75-80% of those churches average 150 or less. Forced terminations, unhealthy staff relationships and ageism are all unfortunate realities. Church planting movements have amplified the need for additional volunteer and part time worship leaders. And even larger, more established congregations are no longer realizing the need for full-time worship and music staff as they try to stretch their financial resources to accommodate their various generational, cultural, ethnic and multisite needs.

With those statistics in mind, the present and future reality seems to indicate that the need for full-time music and worship leaders is on the decline. In other words, it appears there are and will continue to be more prepared full-time leaders than full time places for them to serve. So reality dictates that while preparing for worship leadership we should also be learning additional marketable skills.

For this to occur, we must first acknowledge that a call to bivocational ministry is not a mediocre calling but is in fact a call to full-time ministry that just happens to occur not only when we gather at church but also when we disperse to the marketplace. We must also encourage our Christian colleges and seminaries to more actively challenge students preparing for worship ministry to also learn other vocational skills. We must agree that it is never too soon or too late to learn something new. And we must affirm that learning an additional skill doesn’t compromise our calling but in fact enhances it by allowing us to communicate in other worship languages beyond choirs and chord charts.


Apr 2 2018

Communion: Please, Sir, I Want Some More


CommunionOliver Twist and scores of other orphan boys toiled in the miserable existence of a workhouse. They labored long hours subsisting on three paltry meals of gruel, a watery food substance of unknown character offering little nutritional value.

On one occasion, the boys drew lots to determine who would represent them to ask for more food. Oliver was selected and timidly moved forward with his bowl in his hands to make the iconic request, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

One of the caretakers shrieked, “What? More?” And Oliver and the other boys were chased around the tables by a band of well-fed caretakers.[1]

Our understanding of symbolism at the Lord’s Table has degenerated into a substance of unknown character offering little nutritional value. We know we have a spiritual mandate to regularly observe it, yet often wonder if this is all there is.

So why couldn’t we ask for more within the parameters of our doctrines and denominations without being chased around the Table by a band of well-fed doctrinal caretakers?

For many congregations, observing Communion has become so routine that it no longer calls forth the reality it symbolizes. So there is a need to discover it again with such freshness that it would be like experiencing it for the first time.[2]

Asking for more might cause us to grieve and weep, but it also might cause us to celebrate and shout.

Asking for more means the remembrance is rarely manifested in the same way twice. And that’s why we return often.

Asking for more means we mourn Jesus’ death and burial, but also celebrate his resurrection and promised return.

Asking for more not only remembers how his sacrifice impacted our past, but also how it will influence our future.

Asking for more means that it’s not just Jesus’ story but also our story as we’re invited to step into his story.

Asking for more means we must actively engage, not passively observe.

Asking for more doesn’t change the physical characteristics of the elements, it changes us.

Once we grasp the magnitude of that symbolism at the Communion Table we’ll never again have to ask if this is all there is. In fact, we may actually receive immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).


[1] Oliver Twist is the second novel written by author, Charles Dickens and was first published as a serial from 1837-39.

[2] Adapted from Kenneth Chafin, “Discovering and Preaching the Ordinances Again for the First Time,” in Proclaiming the Baptist Vision: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, ed. Walter B. Shurden (Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1999), 129.


May 2 2016

Worship Service Secret Shopper


EvaluationSome congregations evaluate the theological depth of their worship but never consider how shallow their worship service logistics are. Guests often visit our churches with little or no understanding of theological worship. They do, however, understand excellence, cleanliness, the safety of their children and their own comfort or its absence.

So maybe it’s time for churches to also evaluate their worship logistics including what occurs before, during and after the service.

Since it’s easy to overlook what we have gotten used to, it is more beneficial to secure an outside evaluator for a greater degree of unbiased and unprejudiced objectivity. A friend from another congregation, an acquaintance from the community or even your favorite coffee shop barista could be enlisted as a secret shopper. For the minimal expense of presenting them with a restaurant gift card you could invite one or several guests to visit and complete an evaluation questionnaire.

We often assume the theological depth of our worship service will encourage visitors to return and even stay. And that might actually be true if they could ever see past our logistical blind spots.

Secret Shopper Evaluation Questionnaire
  • Was it easy to get into the parking lot and convenient to park?


  • Was it clear where you were supposed to go once you arrived?


  • Was the property in good repair and grounds well kept?


  • When were you first greeted, if ever?


  • Did the attitude of the greeter make you feel welcome?


  • Were you offered coffee and was it excellent, mediocre or bad?


  • Were the foyer colors and decorations outdated?


  • Did it seem like people were happy to be there and glad to be together?


  • Were the handouts timely and of excellent quality?


  • Was the restroom clean and odor free?


  • Did you feel safe leaving your child in the children’s ministry area?


  • Was the worship space interesting and pleasing to the eye?


  • How did you figure out where to sit?


  • Did you feel conspicuous when you entered the worship space?


  • Was the worship center seating comfortable?


  • Was there enough light?


  • Was the temperature at a comfortable level?


  • Did anyone dress or look like you?


  • How was the volume of the speaking and music?


  • Did the leaders use language you didn’t understand?


  • How was the service flow and pace?


  • Did the service seem too long?


  • Was the worship service order easy to follow or confusing?


  • Was it easy to participate musically?


  • Was the music presented with excellence?


  • Was the music culturally relevant for the people present?


  • Were the video projection elements presented with excellence?


  • Did you feel welcome to participate in all worship service elements?


  • Was the sermon easy to follow and meaningful?


  • Did any of the service elements make you feel uncomfortable?


  • Did anything in the service distract you?


  • How did you know what to do when the worship service was over?


  • Did anyone speak to you after the service?


  • Were the members friendly, unfriendly or disinterested?


  • Did the leaders seem approachable?


  • Any additional observations?


  • Would you come back based on your observations?



Feb 3 2015

Worship’s Utility Player


baseballBaseball utility players are prized for their versatility even though they don’t have enough talent to crack the starting lineup. They are usually excellent players but not quite good enough to help carry the team from a starting position. A utility player is more supplemental than foundational to the success of each game. So he waits on the bench until the manager needs him to fill any of a variety of positions in the lineup.

Prayer has been relegated to the role of a worship service utility player. It is often plugged into worship service holes when the starters (songs and sermons) need a break. Instead of a foundational conversation with the Father as an act of worship, prayer is often a supplemental extra used to fill in, transition or connect.

We often keep prayer on the bench in our services until we need it for a breath of fresh air before a long service section, to allow the worship leader to move his capo, to transition the service stylistically, to shift ushers to their places or to discreetly move the worship band onto the platform.

Worship service spontaneous prayer has evolved into predictable pray-ers praying predictable prayers in predictable places. So when we need to fill a gap we can always depend on our go-to utility player…prayer. Praying spontaneously, meaning it is ready and available without thinking often means it is available without thought. Spontaneity may be convenient but it is not often very meaningful.

What if our preparation expectations were just as stringent for leading in public prayer as they are for a worship service soloist, worship band song or choir anthem? Wouldn’t our worship be radically impacted if spent as much time actually praying in private and public as we now spend trying to teach new songs or protect old ones? Shouldn’t prayer be foundational rather than supplemental, a key player rather than a sub and a worship sustainer rather than a worship stuffer?

“Spontaneity needs to be balanced by careful preparation and forethought. It needs to be supported by an intense prayer life. One must be well experienced in prayer to lead in prayer. One can hardly lead if one does not know the way oneself. Spontaneity has to arise from a profound experience of prayer.”[1]


[1] Hughes Oliphant Old, Leading in Prayer: A Workbook for Worship (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1995), 5.


Sep 8 2014

Dishonest Worship


“Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song in this wasteland?”

(Psalm 137:4 – The Message)

weepingConsuming a steady diet of happy worship songs won’t enigmatically produce happy worshipers. A weekly façade of superficiality may seem innocent and economical, but it is actually very costly since it is disingenuous and dishonest. Shallow happiness alienates worshipers who are suffering, broken, marginalized, angry, depressed or mourning. And it exacerbates their hopelessness by appearing that all is well with everyone except them.

Our one-dimensional singing can condition worshipers to believe it is more spiritual to avoid expressing their deep-seated feelings of grief and pain. Worship that never addresses those issues publicly communicates two messages: either you must not feel that way; or if you feel that way, you must do something about it somewhere else…but not here.[1]

So if our worship is to be authentic and honest it must mirror and reflect authentic life.[2]  Authenticity is publicly admitting painful events and circumstances can cause us to cry out to God in despair and even demand vengeance. It openly confesses that those circumstances can often shake our faith. And it publicly acknowledges those confessions as therapeutic acts of worship.

A deeper understanding of biblical worship can remind us that God expects our discordant language and is not threatened by it. So since we have been conditioned to believe it is more spiritual to avoid expressing those emotions, we must now create a new atmosphere of permission for worshipers to no longer struggle on their own in the depth of their despair.

Honest worship helps us see God’s best

in the offering of our worst.


[1] Walter Brueggemann, “The Friday Voice of Faith,” Calvin Theological Journal 36 (April 2001): 15.

[2] Felicia Y. Thomas, “Lament and Praise in Worship,” Living Pulpit 11 (October/December 2002): 22.


Nov 3 2013

The Eucharist For Dummies


Lord's SupperFor many of our church cultures the Eucharist is a liturgical term or observance we either have never heard of, won’t consider because we don’t understand it, view as something mystical or won’t consider because it seems too “Catholic.” The purpose of this post is to help us better understand the Eucharist and maybe even consider some Eucharistic elements as we gather at the Lord’s Supper Table.

A recent shift has occurred as congregations have become disillusioned with shallow attempts to create formulas for worship renewal, especially around the Lord’s Supper Table. The desire for a deeper understanding of what worship renewal truly is has bridged some of the previous ecumenical gaps. The longing for something more has challenged some congregations to consider worship elements not traditionally associated with their denominational tribe.

It is possible within the parameters of our doctrine, embedded theological understanding and history to observe the Lord’s Supper beyond our traditional approach as a memorial only. Expanding our understanding allows us not only to remember what Christ did for us, but also celebrate what He continues to do for us. Understanding and experiencing the Lord’s Table beyond a memorial does not minimize the remembrance, it enhances it. According to Robert Webber, “The idea is very simple: when we remember the death (Lord’s Supper), celebrate the resurrection (break bread), and eat a meal expressing covenantal relationship with God (communion), we need to give thanks (Eucharist).”[1]

The word Eucharist originated from the Greek word for thanksgiving or blessing. The early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper not just as a memorial of the crucifixion, but also as a celebration of the resurrection. It is recorded in the book of Acts, “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

The Eucharist helps us understand that remembering is not just to live in the past through our sorrow, but also to remember in order to influence our present and future. It allows worshipers to move from symbolically wallowing in the sorrow that their sin caused Christ to die, to the realization that thanksgiving is found in the resurrection and His ultimate return. Experiencing joy at the Table does not diminish the sorrow of the cross and sinful nature of the world. In fact, just the opposite occurs as it reminds us that even in the midst of misery, a profound hope is available. With that understanding, how can we keep from offering our thanks?

Henri Nouwen wrote, “Jesus gave us the Eucharist to enable us to choose gratitude. It is a choice we, ourselves have to make. Nobody can make it for us. But the Eucharist prompts us to cry out to God for mercy, to listen to the words of Jesus, to invite him into our home, to enter into communion with him and proclaim good news to the world; it opens the possibility of gradually letting go of our many resentments and choosing to be grateful.”[2]

The challenge for those of us from church cultures that do not observe the Lord’s Table in this way is to not disregard this Eucharistic understanding because of traditionalism or out of fear that an expanded understanding will take our congregation to a doctrinal place it has never been before. Instead, we should prayerfully consider the attention that must be given to this ordinance each time it is observed so that worship renewal found at the Table is never a one-time event. It will encourage us not only to remember Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, but also remember how those events impacted and continually impact our lives. Expanding our understanding of the Eucharist does not change the physical characteristics of the elements…it changes us.

To offer an application of what The Eucharist looks like practically, I have included below a full Episcopal Eucharistic Liturgy taken from the Book of Common Prayer. The service elements change according to the seasons of the Church Year. This service is one I used in teaching intensives for graduate students at the Liberty University Center for Music and Worship. I have included a brief explanation of terminologies and service elements highlighted in red to offer additional understanding.

The Holy Eucharist


There are 2 parts of the Eucharist – Service or Liturgy of the Word and Service or Liturgy of the Table. Service of the Table is also called Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper.

Service of the Word is sometimes called “Ante-Communion”  “ante” means before.

The Celebrant is the Clergy or leader that officiates the service.

The service of the Word originated even before the birth of Jesus. The Jewish people came together to hear God’s word, to sing songs and then to pray together.

The People standing, the Celebrant says

Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins;

People       His mercy endures forever.

The Celebrant and People pray together

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


The Collect of the Day

The Collect – This short prayer is called a Collect because it collects our thoughts for this time or also for a particular time or season of the year.

Celebrant   The Lord be with you.

People       And also with you.

Celebrant   Let us pray.

O God; who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of Him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son, Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


First Lesson – The People seated

A lesson from Isaiah 43:16-21

The Lessons or Scriptures for this particular Eucharist are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary for March 17th, or the 5th Sunday of Lent.

The liturgy gives suggestions for Standing, Sitting or Kneeling. The purpose of these postures are:

Standing to praise God

Sitting to listen or for instruction

Kneeling to express penitence or devotion or prayer.

A lay minister called a Lector sometimes reads lessons.

Between the Lessons most congregations sing hymns, praise and worship songs or anthems. These musical selections can vary widely according to the worship culture of each congregation.

Celebrant   The Word of the Lord.

People       Thanks be to God.       


Psalm 126 – The People standing – People and Celebrant read together

1      When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

2      Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

3      The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

4      Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.

5      Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

6      He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Bowing at the waist shows reverence for the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

The Psalm is sometimes sung in plainsong chant. Chant is a combination of singing and speaking. Most of the psalm is sung in a monotone and then at the end of a phrase the pitch changes giving it a musical quality. 

In a plainsong psalter, the text is marked (pointed) to give the participants direction for pitch or rhythmic change.  

Some also use plainsong chant for personal reading of the Psalms. You can set your own vocal range. If you normally sing in a monotone anyway, then plainsong chant is a great opportunity for you to sing right notes.


Second Lesson – The People seated

A lesson from Philippians 3:4b-14

Celebrant   The Word of the Lord.

People       Thanks be to God.


The People stand, the Celebrant reads the Gospel

Celebrant   The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

People       Glory to you, Lord Christ.

The Gospel – John 12:1-8

Celebrant   The Gospel of the Lord.

People       Praise to You, Lord Christ.

Making the sign of the cross symbolically asks God’s blessing on minds, hearts and words.




The People Stand – following the sermon for the reading of the Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed

Council of Nicaea – 325 AD. It is one of the oldest texts of Christian Worship.

Considered the words of faith that most affirm the power and love of God as revealed to us in His mighty acts. The Nicene Creed is considered to most clearly state the Church’s teaching of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Creed – Beliefs

Notice the text: “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church”

This does not mean Catholic with an upper case C as in Catholic Church but catholic with a lower case c, which means the whole church or the church universal.

Apostolic – because the church teaches what the apostles taught.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:  by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.  Amen.


The Prayers of the People

After each petition a period of silence is kept.

The entire church prays together with the universal church. Symbolically the whole church, the church universal is united together in prayer. At the end of the directed prayer time the congregants are sometimes given an opportunity to speak out loud the names of those for whom they especially want to pray.

Celebrant   Lord in your mercy

People       Hear our prayer.

Celebrant   In peace, we pray to you, Lord God.  Silence

Celebrant   Let us pray for the church and for the world. Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your Name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.  Silence

Celebrant   Guide the people of this land, and of all the nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good.  Silence

Celebrant   Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory.  Silence

Celebrant   Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he loves us.  Silence

Celebrant   Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them joy of your salvation.  Silence

Celebrant   We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will for them may be fulfilled; and we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom.  Silence

Celebrant   We pray to you also for the forgiveness of our sins.  Silence

Celebrant and People

Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; in your compassion forgive our sins, known and unknown, things done and left undone; and so uphold us by your Spirit that we may live and serve you in newness of life, to the honor and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


The Peace

The passing of the peace is an ancient way for people to greet one another. Jesus taught that we should love one another as brothers and sisters, especially before the celebration of communion. After the text below the congregants pass the peace with each other. This is like some of our Sunday morning greetings but instead of talking about the football game or commenting on the weather, they pass the peace of Christ.

Celebrant   The peace of the Lord be always with you.

People       And also with you.



Sometimes the table will hold 2 candles – symbolically signifying that Christ is the light of the world. The two candles signify Jesus as both God and man, human and divine.


The Offertory


The Great Thanksgiving

Sursum Corda – Is the opening part of the Great Thanksgiving.  It means “Lifted Hearts” as you will see from the text below.

Celebrant   The Lord be with you.

People       And also with you.

Celebrant   Lift up your hearts.

People       We lift them to the Lord.

Celebrant   Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People       It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Celebrant   It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever proclaim the glory of your Name:

Sanctus – Holy, Holy, Holy can be sung or spoken. It is followed by the Benedictus “Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord.”

Celebrant and People

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.


The Great Thanksgiving or Prayer of Consecration

The People stand or kneel

Celebrant   We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.

On the night before he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:


The Acclamation

Acclamation means a loud and enthusiastic show of approval. This attitude should be reflected as the Celebrant and People speak the text below.

Celebrant and People

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.

Celebrant   And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this cup.

Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In the fullness of time, put all things in subjection under your Christ, and bring us to that heavenly country where, with all your saints, we may enter the everlasting heritage of your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation.

By him, and with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever.  Amen.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,


The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father in Heaven (The Lord’s Prayer) – Eric Wyse

In this particular service we used an arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer” by Eric Wyse. The Lord’s prayer can be sung or spoken at this time.


The Breaking of the Bread

The Celebrant breaks the bread

Celebrant   “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;

People       Therefore let us keep the feast.”


Fraction Anthem

Fraction is the action of breaking the bread in half. Taken from the word Confractorium. The Fraction Anthem is the song sung after the Fraction of the bread. Fraction means a small part.

Celebrant   The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance and thanksgiving that Christ died for you.

I added the bidding to the table below because of its beauty and appropriateness for this liturgy. It is taken from the Iona Community. The Iona Community is a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship. It is based in the United Kingdom.

Celebrant   The feast of the bread and cup is now made ready. It is the table of the company of Jesus, and all who love him. It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world with whom Jesus identified. It is the table of communion with the entire earth, in which Christ became incarnate. So come to this table, You who have much faith and you who would like to have more; You who have been here often, and you who have not been for a long time; you who have tried to follow Jesus, and you who have failed. Come, it is Christ who invites us to meet Him here. Iona Community Bidding to the Table


The Communion of the People

Communion Music

Several congregational hymns or songs are selected as the Communion music. These musical selections can vary widely according to the worship culture of each congregation.

After Communion, the Celebrant says

Let us pray.


The Prayer of Discipleship

Celebrant and People

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with the spiritual food in remembrance of his Body and Blood.

Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The People are dismissed with this charge

Celebrant   Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

People       Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


[1] Robert E. Webber, Encountering the Healing Power of God: A Study in the Sacred Actions of Worship (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1998), 27.

[2] Henri J.M. Nouwen, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1994), 124-125.



Aug 11 2013

Breaking Down Game Film – Analyzing Worship


breaking down game filmThe beginning of another football season reminds us of a practice that could also be beneficial to worship leading teams. Breaking down game film is the discipline of reviewing game videos in order to identify mistakes, make adjustments, consider radical changes and highlight successes. The ultimate goal of this type of analysis is to facilitate individual and team improvements that will positively affect subsequent games.

It is often difficult to recall after the game what did or didn’t work during the game. The fundamental reasons why a team is unable to stop or move the ball is not always evident in the middle of the action. Breaking down the film after a game gives coaches the opportunity to isolate individual players and plays in a more relaxed setting away from the time constraints and pressures of the game.

Why aren’t worship leading teams regularly incorporating similar practices? Implementing a post service process of analyzing worship service videos would definitely require a level of humility, trust and shared accountability. It would also require selfless leadership that understands sacrificing ones own interests for the greater worshiping good of the congregation. And those sacrifices would positively affect subsequent worship services.

Breaking down worship service film is always more comprehensive, meticulous, precise and ecumenical when you enlist others to participate with you in the analysis. Communal observations and the wisdom with which to respond to those observations will always be strengthened through the involvement of a collective group.

Armchair quarterbacking is already occurring in the halls and parking lots after the services. Breaking down worship service film intentionally initiates an analysis process that pre-empts those congregational critics who love to coach from the stands. The primary reason for breaking down worship service film, however, is that it will encourage your worship leading team to consider worship renewal based on prayerful evaluation, not just as a knee-jerk response to worship conflict.


May 12 2013

What Are You Reading About Worship? Bibliography 2003-2013


bibliographyWhat are you reading about worship?  Are you reading about worship is probably the more penetrating question.  The words of Eric Hoffer are profound as congregations consider worship renewal and the potential changes that might be required for that renewal.  Hoffer stated, “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”

When those who lead worship stop learning, they stop leading.  It is much easier to coast through ministry relying solely on what we once learned…but is that what we been called to do?  A lifelong learner is one who understands that it is never too soon or too late to learn.

My friend, Eric Benoy, Director of the Martin Music Library at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has compiled a Worship Bibliography of books and resources written in the last decade. The list is not exhaustive but it is extensive.  This is a helpful resource for those longing to stay current with the understanding of worship renewal as an ongoing process.

Worship Resources

An Eclectic, Non-Comprehensive

Bibliography for the Years 2003-2013

Martin Music Library

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The Baptist Church Music Conference

Why another bibliography?  Why now?  What is different?

Worship is a broad and complex topic.  Herein is but a sampling of materials on the subject of Christian Worship.  They range from the historical to the current, from adults to children, from contemporary to liturgical, and from the academic to the practical.  The catalog of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary alone has over 2,500 titles dealing with Christian Worship from the last 60 years, so an exhaustive bibliography just is not feasible.

Many people do not have the time to spend in bookstores, whether brick and mortar or online, looking for resources, let alone to spend time perusing through all the books on the subject.  Some do not have access to specialized database resources to find materials.  Some may simply either lack searching skills or are overwhelmed by the amount of material our there.  Please note that this list does not include all of the masters and doctoral theses on the subject.

This bibliography contains over 220 titles and is meant to assist the user in knowing, in large part, what is current in this vast and changing field.  How so?

1.  The list covers just the last decade; the materials are still fairly current

2.  The list is in descending chronological order, beginning with titles from 2013

3.  The list involves a broad spectrum of traditions in the subject area of Christian Worship

4.  The list includes, where possible, the contents or summary of the title

If you would like an electronic copy of this bibliography, please feel free to e-mail me:


Eric Benoy

Director, Martin Music Library

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary


MacArthur, John.  Worship: The Ultimate Priority.  Moody Publishers, 2012.

Contents:  What the world needs now ‑‑ How shall we then worship? ‑‑ Worship is a way of life ‑‑ Saved to worship ‑‑God : Is he? Who is he? ‑‑ The unchanging, omnipotent God ‑‑ The God who is everywhere, and knows everything ‑‑ Holy, holy, holy ‑‑ A new era dawns ‑‑ This must be the place ‑‑ Worship the Father ‑‑ Worship in spirit and in truth ‑‑ Glory to God in the highest ‑‑ How to glorify God ‑‑ Worship as it was meant to be ‑‑ Appendix. With hearts and  minds and voices.


MacArthur, John.  Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship.  Thomas Nelson Incorporated, 2013.

** Not Yet Published **


Miller, Kim. REdesigning Churches: Creating Spaces for Connection and Community.  Abingdon Press, 2013.

** Not Yet Published **


Gray, L. Lavon.  Hungry for Worship: Challenges and Solutions for Today’s Church. New Hope Publishers, 2013.

** Not Yet Published **


Duck, Ruth.  Worship for the Whole People of God: Textbook for Christian Worship. Westminster John Knox Press, 2013.


Angle-Young, Teresa.  Unconnected: How Worship and Preaching Can Bring Young Adults Back to Church.  Abingdon Press,  2013

** Not Yet Published **


Weem, Lovett H., Jr. and Tom Berlin.  Overflow: Increase Worship Attendance and Bear More Fruit.  Abingdon Press,  2013.

** Not YetPubluished **


Carroll, Joseph S.  How to Worship Jesus Christ: Experiencing His Manifest Presence.  Moody Publishers, 2013.


Miller, Stephen.  Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rockstars.  Moody Publishers,  2013.


Hays, Rita B.  Worship the Lord with Gladness: God’s Children in Worship.  Abingdon Press,  2013.


Castleman, Robbie.  Story‑Shaped Worship: Following Patterns from the Bible and History.  InterVarsity Press,  2013.

** Not Yet Published **


Boswell, Matt.  Doxology and Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader.  B&H Publishing Group, 2013.

** Not Yet Published **


Sproul, R. C.  How Then Shall We Worship?: Biblical Principles to Guide Us Today.  David C. Cook, 2013.

** Not Yet Published **


The Worship Sourcebook.  2nded.  Baker Books, 2013.


Cosper, Mike.  Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel.  Crossway,  2013.

Contents:   The song of Eden ‑‑ Worship in the wilderness ‑‑ The song of Israel ‑‑ The song of Jesus ‑‑ Worship one, two, three ‑‑ Worship as spiritual formation ‑‑ Worship and the story of the church ‑‑ Liturgy and the rhythms of grace ‑‑ Sing, sing, sing ‑‑ The pastoral worship leader.


Wenham, Gordon.  The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms.  Crossway, 2013.

Contents:  What are we doing singing the Psalms? ‑‑Praying the Psalms ‑‑ Reading the Psalms canonically ‑‑ Reading the Psalms messianically‑‑ Ethics of the Psalms ‑‑ Imprecatory Psalms ‑‑ Psalm 103: the song of steadfast love ‑‑ Psalms and the nations.


Prutow, Dennis.  Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and a Cappella Psalmody.  Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary,  2013.


Smith, James K. A.  Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2013.

Contents:  Introduction : a sentimental education : on Christian action ‑‑ Pt. 1: Incarnate significance : the body as background. Erotic comprehension ‑‑The social body ‑‑ Pt. 2: Sanctified perception. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live” : how worship works ‑‑Restor(y)ing the world : Christian formation for mission.  Sidebars: PICTURING THIS. Picturing the end of worship ‑‑ Picturing the limitations of worldview : reading Wendell Berry in Costco ‑‑ Picturing love and worship in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest B Picturing a feel for the world in Bright Star ‑‑ Picturing kinaesthetic conversion in The King’s Speech ‑‑ Picturing the pedagogy of insignificance with Carson McCullers ‑‑ Picturing secular liturgies in Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine ‑‑ Picturing the sanctification of perception in Jewish morning prayer ‑‑ Picturing a reflective, sentimental education ‑‑ TO THINK ABOUT. Longing lead to action ‑‑ Learning the hard way when it’s the only way ‑‑ Shaping a worldview in Downton Abbey ‑‑ Existential maps of our world ‑‑ Chicken sexing and nonconscious knowledge ‑‑ Motor intentionality in Rise of the Planet of the Apes ‑‑ “Catching” sleep ‑‑ Newman on faith as love ‑‑ Schooling as ritual performance ‑‑ Slouching toward ritual ‑‑ Metaphor as godfire‑‑ I can’t say; let me tell you a story ‑‑ War games ‑‑ Imagining the reformation of manners ‑‑ Story and the economy of abundance ‑‑ The poetry of prayer ‑‑ Praying a world(view) ‑‑ Love’s litany.


Adler, Barbara Laughlin.  The Sound of Scripture: Reading the Bible Aloud, A Brief Guide for Lay Readers.  Lutheran University Press, 2012.

Contents:  Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it (Rev 1:3) ‑‑ Rediscovering the sound of scripture, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture (I Timothy 4) ‑‑ Creating an expressive voice, let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt. (Colossians 4:6) ‑‑ Keys to understanding Biblical literature, accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:1‑2, niv) ‑‑ Tell the story, reading Biblical narratives and histories ‑‑ Recite the verse, reading Biblical poetry ‑‑ Teach them, reading wisdom literature ‑‑ Top ten techniques for effective readings ‑‑ Bible’s mandate to read aloud.


Van Opstal, Sandra.  The Mission of Worship.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2012.

Contents:  Purpose 1: Experiencing God ‑‑ Worship in many forms ‑‑ Worship and culture ‑‑ Purpose 2: Embracing God’s mission ‑‑ Worship and reconciliation ‑‑ Worship and justice ‑‑ Worship without mission is not worhsip. Mission without worship is not God’s mission ‑‑ Worship can mobilize people for mission ‑‑ Conclusion: Walking with both feet.


Lathrop, Gordon.  The Four Gospels on Sunday: The New Testament and the Reform of Christian Worship.  Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012.

Contents:  Introduction : The four beasts of Revelation and the gospels ‑‑ Part I. The Four Beasts : The Gospels and Early Christian Worship : ‑‑ 1. Beginnings : Assemblies, “gospel,” gospels ‑‑ 2. The gospels and meal meatings‑‑ 3. Mark in detail : “There you will see HIm” ‑‑ 4. Matthew and Luke in detail : word and meal in the churches ‑‑ 5. John in detail : signs and discourses on Sunday ‑‑ Part II.  The Beasts on Our Sundays : Assembly According to the Gospel : ‑‑ 6. Word, sacrament, and assembly according to the gospel ‑‑ 7. Leadership according to the gospel ‑‑ 8. The reforming gospels : renewing the biblical‑liturgical movement


VanNeste, Ray and C. Richard Wells.  Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship.  Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2012.

Contents:  Sec. 1: Biblical and historical foundations. Words to grow into : the Psalms as formative speech / John D. Witvliet‑‑ Always alleluia : reclaiming the true purpose of the Psalms in the Old Testament context / C. John Collins ‑‑ Ancient songs and apostolic preaching : how the New Testament laid claim to the Psalms / Ray Van Neste‑‑ Prepared for prayer : the Psalms in early Christian worship / Craig A. Blaising‑‑ Biblical poetry in a postbiblical, postpoetry world / Douglas Bond ‑‑ Delighting in doctrine : word and worship in Psalm 1 / Ray Ortlund, Jr. ‑‑ Sec. 2: Practice. How I introduced Psalm singing to my church without getting fired! / James H. Grant, Jr. ‑‑ Reclaiming the Psalms in pastoral prayer : a true story / C. Richard Wells ‑‑ Reclaiming the Psalms for private worship /  Leland Ryken‑‑ Why we need to learn to cry in church : reclaiming the Psalms of lament / Calvin Seerveld‑‑ Performing the Psalms : reclaiming the Psalms for corporate and communal worship / James Richard Joiner ‑‑ The cry of the heart and the cure of the soul : interpreting the Psalms for pastoral care ; The psalm of the cross as the psalm of Christ / C. Richard Wells ‑‑ Conclusion / C. Richard Wells.


Scullion, Gail and Tim Scullion.  How To Start a Contemporary Music Service At Your Church.  Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

Contents:  Preface‑‑ Why do we need a contemporary worship service? ‑‑ The difference between a contemporary and traditional service ‑‑ Lots of singers, no musicians ‑‑ Remaining relevant to the message B Keeping egos in check: spirit‑led verses [sic] performance‑based worship ‑‑ Rehearsals: how to make them run smoothly ‑‑ What it takes to lead a group ‑‑ Branching out: creating a musical outreach program ‑‑ Purchasing musical equipment: what is right for your church ‑‑ Visual equipment: how to enhance the worship service ‑‑ Conflict of interests: clash of musical genres among the members of the group ‑‑ Mentoring to the youth through the music ‑‑ A divided church? ways to unify the two services.


Bratt, James D., ed..  By the Vision of Another World: Worship in American History.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2012.

Contents:  Introduction : transmitting other worlds / James D. Bratt‑‑ Essays. Liturgy, literacy, and worship in Puritan Anglo‑America, 1560‑1670 / Harry S. Stout ‑‑ Worship, experience, and the creation of Methodist place / Ruth Alden Doan ‑‑ Horizons of faith : San Antonio Tejanos in the Texas republic / Timothy Matovina‑‑ “You better set your house in order” : worship ritual and Black church life in Jim Crow Georgia / Paul Harvey ‑‑Cultivatin soil and soul : the intersection of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and the American liturgical movement, 1920‑60 / Michael Woods B Rites of the tribes : two Protestant congregations in a twentieth‑century city / James D. Bratt‑‑ Generations : American Catholics since the 1950s / Leslie Woodcock Tentler‑‑ Commentaries. Recovering the spiritual in American religious history / George M. Marsden ‑‑History : about worship, or for the sake of worship? : reflections from practical theology / Dorothy C. Bass ‑‑ Liturgy’s passions and polarities / Joyce Ann Zimmerman.


Towns, Elmer L. and Vernon M. Whaley.  Worship Through the Ages: How the Great Awakenings Shape Evangelical Worship.  Nashville: B & H Academic, 2012.

Contents:  Worship in the Old Testament, Part 1 ‑‑ Worship in the Old Testament, Part 2 ‑‑ Pentecost: a new expression of worship (AD 30‑100) ‑‑ Christianity sweeps across the Greco‑Roman world (AD 100‑ 500) ‑‑ The Middle Ages (the Dark Ages) (500‑1500) ‑‑ Reformation (1517) ‑‑ The awakening in Europe and America (1727‑1790) ‑‑ The camp meeting awakenings (1780‑1820) ‑‑ The Sunday school and Charles Finney revivals (1820‑1850) ‑‑ The laymen’s prayer revival (1857‑1890) ‑‑ The Welsh revival (1904‑1906) ‑‑ The Azusa Street revival (1906‑1908) ‑‑ The revivalists and great evangelistic campaigns, Part 1 (1890‑1935) ‑‑ The revivalists and great evangelistic campaigns, Part 2 (1935‑1960) ‑‑ The baby boomer revival, Part 1 (1965‑1985) ‑‑ The baby boomer revival, Part 2 (1965‑1985) ‑‑ Moving toward a twenty‑first‑century great worship awakening.


Steele, Ed.  Worship HeartCries: Personal Preparation for Corporate Worship.  Worship HeartCries Ministries, 2012.     **[e-book format]**


Marti, Gerardo.  Worship Across the Racial Divide: Religious Music and the Multiracial Congregation.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Contents:  Introduction: the dream of diversity and the dilemma of music ‑‑ Popular beliefs about worship in multiracial churches ‑‑ African Americans as the icon of “true worship” ‑‑ Worship experience and music selection in multiracial churches ‑‑ The naïve experience of worship in multiracial churches ‑‑ The challenge of leading multiracial worship ‑‑ Variety and intentionality in the design of multiracial worship ‑‑ “Have you seen our gospel choir?”: conspicuous color in multiracial worship ‑‑ Interracial community through multiracial worship practices ‑‑ Conclusion: mystical worship and the reality of practice.


McGraw, Ryan M.  The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath.  Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011.

Contents:  The general importance of the Sabbath ‑‑ The importance of God’s day of worship ‑‑ The presuppositions of Isaiah 58:13‑14 ‑‑ Revisiting Isaiah 58:13‑14 ‑‑ Worldliness ‑‑ What is missing? ‑‑The reformed application of the law ‑‑ Some general practical observations ‑‑ Legalism? ‑‑The eternal Sabbath.


Humphrey, Edith McEwan.  Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth As in Heaven.  Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011.

Contents:  Introduction: The crisis of corporate worship and the life of the church ‑‑ “Teach us to pray” : what is worship, and where does corporate worship fit? ‑‑ “Praise God in his sanctuary” : worship as entrance in the Old Testament ‑‑ “In spirit and in truth” : entrance in the New Testament ‑‑ “From you comes praise” : traditional liturgies of the East ‑‑ “In the great congregation” : traditional liturgies of the West ‑‑ “Your church unsleeping” : expressions of worship today ‑‑ “That your prayers not be hindered” : avoiding pitfalls in corporate worship ‑‑ Conclusion: “To sing is a lover’s thing”.


Begbie, Jeremy S., ed.   Resonant witness: Conversations Between Music and Theology.  Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2011.

Contents:  Augustine and the art of music / Carol Harrison ‑‑ Material : Philip the Chancellor and the reception of Aristotle’s Physics / Nancy van Deusen‑‑ “So faith comes from what is heard” : the relationship between music and God’s word in the first two centuries of German Lutheranism / Joyce Irwin ‑‑ Created beauty : the witness of J. S. Bach / Jeremy S. Begbie‑‑ On music, mathematics, and theology : Pythagoras, the mind, and human agency / John Paul Ito ‑‑ Music as the mouthpiece of theology / Daniel K. L. Chua ‑‑ The shock of the positive : Olivier Messiaen, St. Francis, and redemption through modernity / Robert Sholl‑‑ Quasi una sonata : modernism, postmodernism, religion, and music / Catherine Pickstock‑‑ The integration of music and theology in the vocal compositions of J. S. Bach / Richard J. Plantinga‑‑ “Parables” and “polyphony” : the resonance of music as witness in the theology of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer / David J. R. S. Moseley ‑‑ Musical time and eschatology / Alastair Borthwick ; Trevor Hart ; Anthony Monti‑‑ Improvising texts, improvising communities : jazz, interpretation, heterophony, and the ekklesia / Bruce Ellis Benson ‑‑ Faithful feelings : music and emotion in worship / Jeremy S. Begbie‑‑ Music for the love feast : Hildegard of Bingen and the Song of Songs / Margot Fassler‑‑ The wisdom of song / Steven R. Guthrie ‑‑ The truth shall set you free : song, struggle, and solidarity in South Africa / C. Michael Hawn ‑‑ The singing of Jesus / Michael O’Connor.


Wheeler, David A.  The Great Commission To Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship‑Based Evangelism.  Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2011.

Contents:  The mandate of worship and the great commission ‑‑ Becoming a great commission worshipper ‑‑ Living a new model for worship ‑‑ Great commission worship is formational ‑‑ Great commission worship is transformational ‑‑ Great commission worship is relational (part 1) ‑‑ Great commission worship is relational (part 2) ‑‑ Great commission worship is missional‑‑ Great commission worship is reproducible: defining the great commission worshipper (part 1) ‑‑ Great commission worship is reproducible: defining the great commission worshipper (part 2) ‑‑ Great commission worship is reproducible: defining the great commission worshipper (part 3) ‑‑ The results of great commission worship.


Townley, Cathy.  Missional Worship: Increasing Attendance and Expanding the Boundaries of Your Church.  St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2011.

Contents:   Foreword ‑‑ Introduction ‑‑ Part I: Laying AMissional Foundation For Numerical Growth (Its All About Worship) ‑‑ 1. Make Worship, Not the Worship Service, the goal of Church Life ‑‑ 2. Know your Mission Field ‑‑ 3. Network ‑‑ 4. Pray That god Will Bring a Person of Peace ‑‑ 5. Gather Personal Intercessors ‑‑ Part II: Arranging The Worship Service To Reflect The Worship Lifestyle (Its All About The Worship) ‑‑ 6. Organize Loosely ‑‑ 7. Mimic the MP3 ‑‑ 8. Understand Transitions ‑‑ 9. Always Assume guests Are Present ‑‑ 10. Lead Worship ‑‑ Afterword ‑‑ Addendum


Noland, Rory.  Worship On Earth As It Is in Heaven: Exploring Worship As A Spiritual Discipline.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.


Jones, Douglas R.  Sound of Worship: A Handbook of Acoustics and Sound System Design for the Church.  Boston: Focal Press, 2011.

Contents:   Sound of Worship ‑‑ The Early Roots of the Church ‑‑ The Formative Years of the Church ‑‑ The Celebratory Worship Style ‑‑ The Catholic‑Orthadox Split ‑‑ Catholic Reform ‑‑ The Acoustics of Celebratory Churches ‑‑ Evangelical Style of Worship ‑‑ The 16th Century Reformers ‑‑ The Reformation in England ‑‑ The Modern Evangelical Church ‑‑ Acoustics of the Evangelical Style Church ‑‑ The Experiential Style ‑‑ The Pentecostals and the Charismatic Movement ‑‑ Acoustics of the Experiential Style Church ‑‑ The Community Worship Style ‑‑ The Anabaptists ‑‑ The Acoustics of the Community Church ‑‑ Introduction to Resources ‑‑ Elements of Church Sound Systems ‑‑ Reverberation and Time Response ‑‑ Noise and Isolation ‑‑ Intelligibility.


Quicke, Michael J.  Preaching As Worship: An Integrative Approach to Formation in Your Church.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

Contents:  An ocean and a bucket ‑‑ Preaching and worship: is there a problem? ‑‑ Beware myopic preaching ‑‑ A fuller definition and deeper theology ‑‑ Preaching in 360‑degree worship ‑‑ Directive Scripture with thoughtful liturgy: part 1 ‑‑ Directive Scripture with thoughtful liturgy: part 2 ‑‑ Toward community formation ‑‑ Integrating elements of community formation ‑‑ Toward a new pattern for big‑picture preaching ‑‑ Beginning well: worship swim stage 1 ‑‑ Being directed: worship swim stages 2 and 3 ‑‑ Continuing strong: worship swim stages 4 and 5 ‑‑ Evaluating and building forward: worship swim stage 6.


Vann, Jane Rogers.  Worship Matters: A Study for Congregations.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

Contents:  Not talking about worship ‑‑ The symbolic language of worship ‑‑ Gathering God’s people: a place for worship ‑‑ Dressing the space: making the unseen visible through the arts ‑‑ Enacting worship: using our bodies in worship ‑‑ Timekeeping: liturgical days and seasons ‑‑ Proclaiming God’s praise: liturgical speech ‑‑ Lifting our voices: liturgical song.


Searcy, Nelson.  Engage: A Guide to Creating Life‑Transforming Worship Services.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

Contents:  Why ask why? : determining your philosophy of worship ‑‑Worship : seven principles of life‑transforming worship ‑‑ Wanted : radically transformed lives ‑‑ Laying a solid foundation : how to plan your preaching ‑‑Preaching for life transformation : tips and temptations ‑‑ Below the waterline : building your worship planning system ‑‑ Creative transformation : aligning creative elements for excellence ‑‑ The trial run : conducting a message run‑through ‑‑ Defining relationships : the pastor/worship pastor challenge ‑‑ Evaluating for excellence : the philosophy behind service evaluation ‑‑ Closing the book : how to evaluate and improve your services ‑‑ Conclusion: Five steps to more engaging worship next Sunday.


Dunn, James D. G.  Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.

Contents:  The language of worship ‑‑ The practice of worship ‑‑ Monotheism, heavenly mediators, and divine agents ‑‑ The Lord Jesus Christ.


Pembroke, Neil.  Pastoral Care in Worship: Liturgy and Psychology in Dialogue.  New York: T & T Clark, 2010.

Contents:  pt. 1. Reconciliation : addressing self‑diminishment. Confessions of a sly psyche ‑‑ Shame, confession, and God’s affirming gaze ‑‑ pt. 2. Lament : the therapeutics of complaint. Asserting ourselves before God ‑‑Praying our anger ‑‑ pt. 3. Hope : light in the darkness. Hope needs witnesses‑‑ Hope needs an ironic imagination ‑‑ pt. 4. Communion : life together in Christ. Individualization, Christianization, and the sacraments ‑‑Maintaining self in communion.


Cherry, Constance M.  The worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.

Contents:  Phase One: Laying the Foundation for Worship.  Establishing the foundation: biblical worship ‑‑ Setting the cornerstone: worship is centered in Jesus Christ.  Phase Two: Building the Structure for Worship.  Four rooms for encountering God: the general order of worship ‑‑ The first load‑bearing wall: the gathering ‑‑ The second load‑bearing wall: the word ‑‑

The third load‑bearing wall: the table of the Lord ‑‑ The third load‑bearing wall: the alternative response to the word ‑‑ The fourth load‑bearing wall: the sending.  Phase Three: Creating Doors and Windows for Encountering God.  Encountering God in prayer: capturing the heart of worship ‑‑ Encountering God in music: singing the church’s song ‑‑ Encountering God in music: offering “sound” musical leadership ‑‑ Encountering God in the Christian year: remembering the whole narrative.  Phase Four: Adding Style to the Worship Event.  Principles of worship style: expressing your corporate identity ‑‑A more excellent way: exploring convergence.  Phase Five: Nurturing Hospitality at the Worship Event.  The hospitable worship leader: engaging worshipers as participants. Appendix A: Ten basic steps in designing vital worship ; Appendix B: Checklist for designing vital worship.


Allen, Nan Corbitt.  The Words We Sing: Bringing Meaning to Worship.  Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 2010.


Linman, Jonathan.  Holy Conversation: Spirituality for Worship.  Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010.

Contents:  Spirituality, worship, and lectiodivina.Understanding spirituality for worship ;Worship and holy conversation ;Lectiodivina and holy conversation –Meditations on the mass. Preparation, Reading, Meditation, Prayer, Contemplation, Sending.


Fox, James A.  The Power of Serious Congregational Worship: Building Incredibly Deep and True Churches.  Raleigh, NC: Lulu, 2010.


Caccamo, James F.  Living Worship  [DVD videorecording]: A Multimedia Resource for Students and Leaders.  Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2010.

Contents:  Living worship in theory and practice (21.5 hours of video covering church service, planning meetings, interviews, and expert commentary; more than 450 pages worth of text; over 400 images documenting the history of the church; a glossary of theology terms; essays covering topics central to congregational worship life; and orders of worship reaching back 50 years) ‑‑ Speaking of worship (90 minutes of interviews with outstanding teachers in homilets, worship, music, the arts, and pastoral rites on vital issues and questions related to worship. Run time : 23 hours)


Davis, John Jefferson.  Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010.

Contents:  Introduction : why God has been lost and where we can look to find Him ‑‑ God, the church and the self : searching for reality in evangelical worship ‑‑ Reality in worship : the real presence of God on Sunday morning ‑‑ The Eucharist : meeting the risen Christ at the table ‑‑ From ontology to doxology : from theory to practice in worship renewal ‑‑ Appendix : theology and practice of worship : selected readings.


Witherington, Ben.  We Have Seen His Glory: A Vision of Kingdom Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2010.

Contents:  We have seen His glory : the day is coming and now is ‑‑ Glorifying the Creator and Redeemer : Revelation 4‑5 ‑‑ Worship as sabbatical ‑‑ The legacy of Judaism ‑‑ Glorifying God in a bolder way B Illuminating the good news ‑‑ Work and worship : labors of love? ‑‑Doxology : the end and aim of all things.


Williamson, Dave.  God’s Singers: A Guidebook for the Worship Leading Choir in the 21st Century.  Singer’s ed.  Nashville, TN: Worship Leading Choirs International, Incite Media, 2010.

Contents:  How to proceed with a choir devotional, a word to the director ‑‑  Introduction ‑‑  Lampstand one‑ Foundation.  The first stirrings ‑‑  The case for the choir ‑‑  Spiritual performers, or worship leaders? B Three kinds of choirs ‑‑  Lampstand two‑ Relation.  Together is better! ‑‑  Whoever would be great… ‑‑  On playing, and praying ‑‑  And Jesus said, make disciples ‑‑  Lampstand three‑ Education.  The case for excellence ‑‑  Elements of style ‑‑  Why memorize? ‑‑  Lampstand four‑ Celebration!  The four touchpoints‑‑  Quit stepping on my body language ‑‑  Various other applicable thoughts.  Fleshing out the paradigms chart ‑‑  Keep moving forward! ‑‑  Appendices.  My covenant with God ‑‑  Foundational scriptures and their applications ‑‑  Scriptures calling for a response ‑‑  Sample prayer emphasis sheets ‑‑  Answers to “mining the gold” questions.


Williamson, Dave.  God’s Singers: A Guidebook for the Worship Leading Choir in the 21st Century.  Director’s ed.  Nashville, TN: Worship Leading Choirs International, Incite Media, 2010.

Contents:  Part 1. The what and the why.  Lampstand one‑ Foundation.  The first stirrings ‑‑  The case for the choir ‑‑  Spiritual performers, or worship leaders? ‑‑  Three kinds of choirs ‑‑  Lampstand two‑ Relation.  Together is better! ‑‑  Whoever would be great… ‑‑  On playing, and praying ‑‑  And Jesus said‑‑make disciples ‑‑  Lampstand three‑ Education.  The case for excellence ‑‑  Elements of style ‑‑  Why memorize? ‑‑  Lampstand four‑ Celebration!   The four touchpoints‑‑  Quit stepping on my body language B  Part 2. The how.  Lampstand one‑ Foundation.  Starting a brand new choir ‑‑  Transforming an existing choir into a worship leading choir ‑‑  Fleshing out the paradigms chart ‑‑  Lampstand two‑ Relation.  Interviews‑‑why and how? (CD) ‑‑  Section leaders and shared leadership (plus a special section by Jim Faull on a better way to address choir member accountability) ‑‑  Get outta townB an extra‑ordinary choir retreat ‑‑  Lampstand three‑ Education.  Head‑chart harmony‑‑what it is, and how to teach it (CD) ‑‑  “NPR‑TV” singing techniques‑‑a live! rehearsal (CD) ‑‑  Teaching a new worship song to your choir‑‑another live rehearsal (CD) ‑‑  Focus! Leading a worship leading choir rehearsal ‑‑  Memorizing music without inflicting (undue) pain ‑‑ Lampstand four‑ Celebration.  Planning a worship service‑‑encountering God ‑‑  A sound check with a choir ‑‑  A word about praise teams ‑‑  An interview with myself ‑‑  Worship concerts and traveling together (with a special section by Jeff Bennett on traveling abroad with a choir) ‑‑  Keep moving forward! ‑‑  Appendices.  Foundational scriptures and their applications ‑‑  The big ideas ‑‑  A necessary clarification B         Sample organizing documents ‑‑  17 things that can bring you together ‑‑  Two agendas for a worship leading choir retreat ‑‑  Scriptures calling for a response ‑‑  Sample prayer emphasis sheets B  Pulling the web sites together.


Ruth, Lester.  Walking Where Jesus Walked: Worship in Fourth‑Century Jerusalem.  Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2010.

Contents:  The context of the worshiping community : fourth‑century Jerusalem ‑‑ Timeline ‑‑Liturguical landscape ‑‑ Geographical landscape ‑‑ Cautions for studying Jerusalem’s worship history ‑‑ Significant themes and practices to observe ‑‑ Describing the community’s worship : Egeria and the Church in Jerusalem, 380s ‑‑ Documenting the community’s worship. People and artifacts ; Worship setting and space ; A description of worship ; Order of service and texts ; Sermons ‑‑ Why study Jerusalem’s worship? Suggestions for devotional use ; Discussion questions for small groups ; A guide for different disciplines and areas of interest.


Guess, Shay.  Creating the Atmosphere of Worship.  Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corp, 2010.


Clark, Dave.  Worship Where You’re Planted: A Primer for the Local Church Worship Leader.  Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 2010.

Content:  Here I am to worship ‑‑ Holy tension ‑‑ Preaching to the choir ‑‑ Investment strategies ‑‑ Every seven days ‑‑ Rate of refresh ‑‑ A picture is worth a thousand distractions ‑‑ Do you hear what I hear? B Small choir rehearsal techniques / by Ed Hogan ‑‑ Starting and developing a church instrumental ministry / by Ed Hogan ‑‑The gift of pain ‑‑ The golden hour.


Garrigan, Siobhan, ed.  Common Worship in Theological Education.  Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2010.

Contents:  Preface / Mary Hess ‑‑Ora et labora: reflections on the (non‑)history of seminary chapel / Todd E. Johnson ‑‑ Politics of seminary chapels / Dwight W. Vogel ‑‑ My cup runneth over? Seminary chapel as a laboratory / Mark W. Stamm‑‑ Musical formation in seminary chapel worship / Patrick Evans ‑‑ Seminary chapel in a prayer book context / Lizette Larson‑Miller ‑‑ Naming the elephant: leading chapel in a multi‑denominational seminary context / Michelle K. Baker‑Wright ‑‑ “In spirit and in truth”: the liturgical space as a territory / CláudioCarvalhaes‑‑ Table teaching: practicing the Lord’s Supper at seminary / Ron Rienstra‑‑ Worship and formation for ministry / E. Byron Anderson ‑‑ Crediting chapel: worship and the theological curriculum / SiobhánGarrigan.


Clark, Paul B.  Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace: Worship Renewal Through Congregational Singing.  Bloomington, IN: Cross Books, 2010.

Contents:  Needing a worship tune‑up ‑‑ Biblical, theological, and historical foundations for singing worship ‑‑ Unison and harmony‑ not all worship gatherings are alike ‑‑ Words we sing in worship ‑‑ Music we sing in worship ‑‑ Sunday worship‑ time for singing ‑‑ Sacred acts‑ sacred singing ‑‑ Renewed singing‑ renewed worship ‑‑ Rehearsal for singing ‑‑ Staying in tune.


Cottrell, Travis.  Surprised By Worship: Discovering the Presence of God Where You Least Expect It.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

Contents:  Surprises ‑‑ I got chills, they’re multiplyin’ ‑‑ Not without hope ‑‑ The sweet, sweet sound of worship ‑‑ The wide, wide world of worship ‑‑ Words, wounds, and worship ‑‑ Fear. Not ‑‑The great adventure ‑‑ Surviving death ‑‑ Surrender.


Pierce, Chuck D.  Worship As It Is in Heaven: Worship That Engages Every Believer and Establishes God’s Kingdom on Earth.  Ventura, CA: Regal From Gospel Light, 2010.

Contents:  What happens when we worship ‑‑ In Heaven as it isn’t on Earth ‑‑ The power of music ‑‑ Bringing in the Ark ‑‑ Bringing in the Ark again ‑‑ The glory of Zion ‑‑ Rebuilding the Tabernacle ‑‑ Rebuilding the Tabernacle again ‑‑ Pursuing the Bridegroom ‑‑ How must we then worship? ‑‑The apostolic perspective.


Bradshaw, Paul F.  Reconstructing Early Christian Worship.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010.

Contents:  Did Jesus institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper? ‑‑Receiving communion ‑‑ The earliest eucharistic prayers? ‑‑ Catechumens and the gospel ‑‑The profession of faith ‑‑ Varieties of anointing B Patterns of daily praying ‑‑ The changing role of psalmody ‑‑ The emergence of penitential prayer.


Alikin, Valeriy A.  The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering: Origin, Development and Content of the Christian Gathering in the First to Third Centuries.  Boston, MA: Brill, 2010.

Contents:  Introduction‑‑ 1. A new approach to the study of the early Christian gathering ‑‑ 2. A brief survey of previous research ‑‑ 3. The present study ‑‑ Chapter One The Origin of the Weekly Gathering in the Early Church ‑‑ Introduction ‑‑ 1. The early Christian gatherings in the context of Graeco‑Roman culture ‑‑ 2. Time and place of the gatherings of the early Church ‑‑ 3. Content and order of the community gatherings in the early Church ‑‑ 4. The leaders of the gatherings in the early Church ‑‑ Chapter Two The Gatherings of Christians in the Morning ‑‑ 1. The origin of the Christian gathering in the morning ‑‑ 2. The morning gatherings in the second and third centuries ‑‑ Chapter Three The Lord’s Supper in the Early Church ‑‑ 1. The earliest history of the Lords Supper ‑‑ 2. The Last Supper of Jesus and the Lords Supper ‑‑ 3. The Eucharist in the second and third centuries ‑‑ Chapter Four The Reading of Scripture in the Gathering of the Early Church ‑‑ 1. The origin of Scripture reading in the Christian gathering ‑‑ 2. Development of the public reading of Scripture in the Christian communities‑‑ 3. The office of reader ‑‑ Chapter Five Preaching in the Gathering of the Early Church ‑‑ 1. The origin of preaching in the Christian gathering ‑‑ 2. The development of preaching in the gatherings of the early Church ‑‑ 3. Preachers in the gatherings of the early Church ‑‑ Chapter Six Singing and Prayer in the Gathering of the Early Church ‑‑ 1. Singing in the gathering of the early Church ‑‑ 2. Prayer in the gathering of the early Church ‑‑Other  ritual actions in the gathering of the early church: holy kiss, laying on of hands and ordination, ritual foot washing and oin anointing, collections, almsgiving, and offerings, healing and exorcism, liturgical acclamations and doxologies.


Hall, Christopher A.  Worshiping With the Church Fathers.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

Contents:  Introduction‑‑ pt. I: Sacraments ‑‑ Baptism: entering the worshiping community ‑‑ Eucharist : feasting with the worshiping community ‑‑ Part II: Prayer ‑‑ The basics of prayer ‑‑ The challenge of unceasing prayer ‑‑ Further coaching on prayer ‑‑ The Lord’s prayer ‑‑ Part III: Discipline ‑‑ The transforming call to the desert ‑‑ A space to draw close to God.


Hudson, Christopher D., What the Bible Says About Worship.  Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Pub., 2009.


Sharp, Michael.  Holy Gatherings: A Leader’s Guide for Engaging the Congregation in Corporate Worship.  Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, Inc., 2009.

Contents:  Describing worship: What is it? ‑‑ Designing worship: How do we plan it? The first steps. ‑‑ Designing worship: How do we plan it? The next steps. ‑‑ Expressing worship: How do we offer it? B  Transitioning worship: How do we rethink it? ‑‑Pastoring the worshipers: How do we shepherd them? ‑‑Evaluating worship: How can we improve it?


Ellis, Christopher J.  Approaching God: A Guide for Worship Leaders and Worshippers.  Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2009.

Contents:  So you’ve been asked to lead worship ‑‑ Worshipping God with three eyes ‑‑ Why worship? ‑‑Who is worship for? ‑‑ Worship and life ‑‑ Shapes and patterns ‑‑ Planning the jjourney‑‑ Praying together B The prayer spectrum ‑‑Singing : why and when? ‑‑Singing : what and how? ‑‑ Living with Scripture ‑‑ Plotting the preaching ‑‑ Starting the sermon ‑‑ Celebrating around the table ‑‑ Wider horizons B Time and eternity : the Christian year ‑‑ Approaching God : dimensions of worship ‑‑ A glossary of grace : the language of worship ‑‑ Continuing the journey.


Satterlee, Craig Alan.  When God Speaks Through Worship: Stories Congregations Live By.  Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2009.

Contents:  Introduction : disappointing advice ‑‑ Give God the first word ‑‑ Remember baptism ‑‑ Welcome kids ‑‑ Touch and anoint ‑‑ Light candles ‑‑ Celebrate vocation ‑‑ Pick hymns ‑‑ Preach Christ ‑‑ Epilogue: tell stories.


Long, Kimberly Bracken.  The Worshiping Body: The Art of Leading Worship.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.

Contents:  Called out from the body ‑‑ The embodied nature of worship ‑‑ Eyes and ears : attending ‑‑ The mouth : voice and speech ‑‑ The hands : gesture and touch ‑‑ The feet : presiding in sacred space ‑‑ The heart : the spirituality of the presider.


McLean, Max.  Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.

Contents:  Introduction: Why we wrote this book ‑‑ My story ‑‑ How I got started reading Scripture aloud ‑‑ Recruiting others who love the game ‑‑ No longer the worst moment ‑‑ The 9 percent isolation factor B  Butterflies and breathing ‑‑ How to sound like you ‑‑ From the page to the stage ‑‑ Take a breath : it even helps with nervousness ‑‑ Quick‑start guide to reading the Bible aloud ‑‑ How to teach others ‑‑ Train your pastor to read the Bible better, really! ‑‑ Invite youth and children to make Scripture come alive ‑‑ Scripture reading at home, at weddings, and more ‑‑ Next steps ‑‑ What to do next ‑‑ Q&A with Max McLean.


Dyrness, William A.  A Primer on Christian Worship: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, Where We Can Go.  Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2009.

Contents:  Introduction : God’s invitation ‑‑ Looking back : worship in the Middle Ages and the Reformation ‑‑ From then till now : how styles of spirituality shape current Christian worship ‑‑ Holy, holy, holy : the trinitarian character of worship ‑‑ The narrative shape of worship : telling the story of God’s love ‑‑ The lessons of worship : practicing what we believe ‑‑ Conclusion : new forms, new actions : renewing the practices of worship


Pinson, J. Matthew.  Perspectives on Christian Worship: 5 Views.  Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2009.

Contents:  Liturgical worship ‑‑ Responses to Timothy C.J. Quill ‑‑ Traditional evangelical worship ‑‑ Responses to Ligon Duncan ‑‑ Contemporary worship ‑‑ Responses to Dan Wilt ‑‑ Blended worship B Responses to Michael Lawrence and Mark Dever‑‑ Emerging worship ‑‑ Responses to Dan Kimball.


Johnson, Lawrence J.  Worship in the Early Church: An Anthology of Historical Sources.  Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 2009.

Contents:  v. 1. Worship in the Early Church is a collection of excerpts from early Christian writings illustrating the Church’s liturgical practice in both East and West, from its Jewish beginnings through the end of the sixth century. Volume 1 includes: Jewish prayers from table and synagogue; Subapostolic Era: the Didache, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Pastor Hermas; Second Century: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Melito of Sardis; Third Century: Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Hippolytus of Rome, the Didascalia of the Apostles, Origen, the Apostolic Church Order; and others. ‑‑ v. 2. Fourth Century, West: Optatus of Milevis, Zeno of Verona, Ambrose of Milan, Pope Siricius, Hilary of Poitiers, Pacian of Barcelona, Synod of Elvira (ca. 300); Fourth Century, East: Lactantius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Pseudo‑Ignatius, Gregory of Nyssa, the Council of Nicaea (325), John Chrysostom, Apostolic Constitutions; and others. ‑‑ v. 3. Fifth Century, West:  Augustine of Hippo, Arnobius the “Younger,” Pope Innocent I, Peter Chrysologus, Pope Leo I, Maximus of Turin, Pope Gelasius, Faustus of Riez, Statuta ecclesiae antiqua; Fifth Century, East:  Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyr, Narsai of Nisibis, Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria; and others. ‑‑ v. 4. Sixth Century, West: Fulgence of Ruspe, Pope                  Hormisdas, Rule of the Master, Benedict of Nursia, Pope Vigilius, Cassiodorus, the Liber pontificalis, Synod of Rome (595), Pope Gregory I, Caesarius of Arles, Gregory of Tours, Columbanus;  Sixth Century, East: Theodore Lector, Dionysius the Pseudo‑Areopagite, Evagrius Scholasticus, the Manchester Papyrus; and others.


Provance, Brett S.  Pocket Dictionary of Liturgy & Worship.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.


Berger, Teresa and Bryan D. Spinks. The Spirit in Worship-Worship in the Spirit.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009.

Contents:  Worship and the Spirit in the New Testament / N. T. Wright ‑‑ The presence of God in Jewish liturgy / Ruth Langer ‑‑ The liturgy as the work of the Spirit : a theological perspective / Simon Chan ‑‑ The adversary : agony, irony, and the liturgical role of the Holy Spirit / Matthew Myer Boulton‑‑ The rediscovery of the Holy Spirit in modern eucharistic theology and practice / Paul F. Bradshaw B Wombs of the Spirit : incarnational pneumatology in the Syrian baptismal tradition / Simon Jones ‑‑ The Holy Spirit in Eastern Orthodox worship : historical enfleshments and contemporary queries / Peter Galadza‑‑Veni Creator Spiritus : the elusive real presence of the Spirit in the Catholic tradition / Teresa Berger ‑‑ The Holy Spirit and Lutheran liturgical‑sacramental worship / Maxwell E. Johnson ‑‑ The Holy Spirit in the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwa{1E25}edo Church tradition / HabtemichaelKidane‑‑ The Spirit and African American worship traditions / Melva Wilson Costen‑‑ Worshiping  and the Spirit : transmuting liturgy pentecostally / Daniel E. Albrecht ‑‑ The Spirit in contemporary charismatic worship / James Steven ‑‑ The Holy Spirit in the worship of some Zulu Zionist churches / Jonathan A. Draper ‑‑ The role of the Holy Spirit in worship : an introduction to the Hillsong Church, Sydney, Australia / Darlene Zschech


Hargreaves, Sam.  How Would Jesus Lead Worship?: Biblical Insights for Today’s Church.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, The Bible Reading Fellowship, 2009.


Danso, John. Join in: Breaking Tradition, Embracing Culture, Styles of Multicultural Worship.  Ely, Cambridgeshire: Melrose Books, 2009.


Herring, Brad.  Sound, Lighting, and Video: A Resource for Worship.  Boston, MA: Focal Press, 2009.

Contents:  Anatomy of a sound system ‑‑ Connections in a sound system ‑‑ More on microphones ‑‑ Gain structure ‑‑ Equalization ‑‑ Electric processing ‑‑ Stage monitors and in‑ear monitors ‑‑ Making the move to digital ‑‑ Conclusion of sound section ‑‑ Anatomy of a lighting system ‑‑ Color mixing theory ‑‑ Common power connections of a lighting system ‑‑ Controllers and protocols ‑‑ Close up on dimmers ‑‑ An overview of moving lights ‑‑ Beyond illumination ‑ Using lighting for design ‑‑ Architectural lighting and integration with stage lighting ‑‑ Conclusion of lighting section ‑‑ Anatomy of a video system ‑‑ Lumens, brightness and contrast ‑ what does it all mean? ‑‑ Hi‑definition vs. standard definition ‑‑ Front projections vs. rear projection ‑‑A closer look at the video screen ‑‑ Cameras and tripods ‑‑ Worship presentation software ‑‑ Conclusion of video systems for worship.


Brown, Frank Burch.  Inclusive Yet Discerning: Navigating Worship Artfully.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2009.

Contents:  Navigating worship artfully: finding a compass ‑‑ Enjoyment and discernment in the music of worship ‑‑ Singing together (with all creation): dilemmas and delights ‑‑ Is good art good for Christian worship? ‑‑ Christian music: more than just the words ‑‑ Religious music and secular music: a Calvinist perspective, re‑formed ‑‑On not giving short shrift to the arts in liturgy: the testimony of Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger) ‑‑ On being beautiful and religious at the same time: reviving Plotinus.


Kuyper, Abraham, 1837‑1920.  Our Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2009.

Contents:  Our worship ‑‑ Revival of liturgical awareness ‑‑ Assembly of believers ‑‑ Meeting with God as a reconciled congregation ‑‑ Altar ‑‑ False spirituality ‑‑ Liturgical prayers ‑‑ Congregational song ‑‑ Our versified Psalter ‑‑ Norms of beauty ‑‑ Clerical vestments ‑‑ Church building ‑‑ Seating arrangement ‑‑Preservice meeting ‑‑ Reading Scripture ‑‑Votum‑‑ Benediction ‑‑ God’s presence B Confession of sin ‑‑ Law of the Ten Commandments ‑‑ Confession : to be sung or spoken? ‑‑ Kneeling in prayer ‑‑ Absolution ‑‑ Confession of faith ‑‑ Reading of Holy Scripture ‑‑ Preaching B Transition to the preaching service ‑‑ Sermon preparation ‑‑ Choosing a text ‑‑ Preacher and the congregation ‑‑ Conclusion of the service ‑‑ Offerings ‑‑ Ecclesiastical ceremonies ‑‑ Administration  of holy baptism ‑‑ Transition from holy baptism to the holy supper ‑‑ Administration of the Lord’s Supper ‑‑ Excommunication and readmission ‑‑ Ordination to church office ‑‑ Marriage ceremony B Conclusion ‑‑ Responses ‑‑ All of life is worship? : Abraham Kuyper and the neo‑Kuyperians / John Bolt ‑‑ Abraham Kuyper on baptismal belief and practice / Bryan D. Spinks ‑‑ Abraham Kuyper : pioneering liturgist, Reformed dogmatician, Dutch aesthetician / Geoffrey Wainwright ‑‑ Reflections on Kuyper’s Our worship / Nicholas Wolterstorff‑‑ Theology of worship in the Reformed tradition : a chronological bibliography


Guiver, George.  Vision Upon Vision: Processes of Change and Renewal in Christian Worship.  Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2009.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑ From house to hall ‑‑ Drama ‑‑ A strange warping ‑‑ God and culture ‑‑ The cross and the font ‑‑ Swimming ‑‑The Enlightenment ‑‑ The movements of 1833 ‑‑ Another world ‑‑ Naively presupposing ‑‑ Seeing more than ourselves ‑‑ Giving and receiving ‑‑ The core of worship ‑‑ A complex shaping.


Gould, Meredith.  Why is There a Menorah on the Altar?: Jewish Roots of Christian Worship.  New York, NY: Seabury Books, 2009.

Contents: Foreword ‑‑ Reading Scripture ‑‑ History matters ‑‑ Worship ‑‑ Baptism ‑‑ Holy Communion ‑‑ Confirmation.


Schmit, Clayton J.  Sent and Gathered: A Worship Manual for the Missional Church.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Contents:  Introduction‑‑ Part 1: Worship and the mission of God. Foundations ‑‑ Sending is mission ‑‑ There is a river ‑‑ Worship and the arts ‑‑ Worship is communication ‑‑ Extraordinary worship ‑‑ Part 2: A worship manual for the missional church. The sending ‑‑The gathering ‑‑ The Word ‑‑ The sacraments.


Chapell, Bryan.  Christ‑Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Contents:  Gospel worship ‑‑ The Gospel of structure ‑‑ The Roman story ‑‑ Luther’s story ‑‑ Calvin’s story ‑‑ Westminster’s story ‑‑ The modern story ‑‑ The Gospel story ‑‑ Christ’s story ‑‑ “Re‑presenting” Christ’s story ‑‑ The mission of Christ‑centered worship ‑‑ The aspects of Christ‑centered worship ‑‑ The components of Christ‑centered worship ‑‑ Gospel worship resources ‑‑ Call to worship ‑‑ Affirmation of faith ‑‑ Confession of sin ‑‑ Assurance of pardon ‑‑ Rubrics : transitions ‑‑ Historic components ‑‑ Scripture‑reading history and practice ‑‑ Christ‑centered sermons ‑‑ Benedictions and charges B Worship service examples ‑‑ Communion services ‑‑ Musical styles ‑‑ Appendix: Worship resources on the Internet.


Ramshaw, Gail.  Christian Worship: 100,000 Sundays of Symbols and Rituals.  Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2009.

Contents:  Why study Christian worship? ‑‑What is a symbol? ‑‑What is a ritual? ‑‑Which symbols and rituals have Christians used for 100,000 Sundays? ‑‑What comes down us to from 75,000 Sundays ago? ‑‑What comes down to us from 50,000 Sundays ago? ‑‑What comes down to us from 25,000 Sundays ago? ‑‑What comes down to us from the last 10,000 Sundays? ‑‑What is baptism? ‑‑ What Christian worship takes place between Sundays? ‑‑How is Christian worship like and unlike the practices of other religions in America? ‑‑How might Sunday worship affect daily life?


Rienstra, Debra.  Worship Words: Discipling Language For Faithful Ministry.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑ The dimensions of language in worship ‑‑Worship as dialogic encounter ‑‑ On chatter and patter ‑‑ On repetition ‑‑ The puzzle of authenticity ‑‑ Watch your figures : metaphor in worship ‑‑ Naming God : meeting the one who is ‑‑ Something old : inviting tradition into today ‑‑ Something new : incarnating the Gospel now ‑‑ Something borrowed : worshiping with the global church ‑‑ Something blue : the ministry of lament ‑‑ The embedded Word : putting it all together ‑‑ Appendix 1: Practical advice on all occasions : ten tips ‑‑ Appendix 2: Worship planning process ‑‑ Appendix 3: Assessing songs for congregational use


Wilson, Len.  Taking Flight With Creativity: Worship Design Teams That Work.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2009.

Contents:  Part I: Are we meant to fly? Discovering a strategic approach to worship ‑‑ Why design worship in a team? ‑‑ Identifying team purpose ‑‑ Addressing issues of methodology ‑‑ Part 2: Building the aeroplane : putting the worship design team together ‑‑ Who’s on the design team? ‑‑What’s the size of the design team? ‑‑How does the team operate? Team equality ‑‑Who does what? Team roles ‑‑How do we organize our time? ‑‑ Part 3: Taking flight : achieving Koinonia‑‑ Becoming a small group ‑‑ Learning to make decisions together ‑‑ The weekly list of decisions ‑‑ Brainstorming ‑‑ A worship case study ‑‑ Part 4: Grounded : dealing with team maintenance and problems ‑‑ Sole proprietor preachers ‑‑ Maintaining a finely tuned machine.


Davis, Holland.  Let It Rise: A Manual for Worship.  Alachua, FL: Bridge‑Logos, 2009.

Contents:  Let’s make a start ‑‑ Finding my place in the world ‑‑ I still haven’t found what I’m looking for ‑‑ Making the rocks cry out ‑‑ Vibe management ‑‑ Dancing with porcupines ‑‑ When no one is looking B Seeing the invisible ‑‑ Appendices ‑‑ About the author.


Miller, Kim.  Redesigning Worship: Creating Powerful God Experiences.  Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑ Getting started ‑‑ Assembling a worship design team ‑‑ Finding great team players ‑‑ The vital role of the pastor‑speaker ‑‑ Small or start‑up churches empowering teams that soar B Behind the scenes with the worship team ‑‑ The anatomy of a design team meeting ‑‑ Developing the weekend worship experience ‑‑ Maximizing multisensory worship ‑‑ The magic of music and media ‑‑ Styling the stage ‑‑ Writing for worship connection ‑‑ Powerful prayers for everyday people ‑‑ Multiplying multisensory worship ‑‑ Alternative worship communities ‑‑ The teams surrounding the team : serving in community ‑‑ Nobody told me the road would be easy ‑‑ Overcoming obstacles in worship design ‑‑ Four mantras for the mission ‑‑ Send out : a ministry of mud ‘n’ spit.


Whaley, Vernon M.  Called to Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009.

Contents:  pt. 1. Old Testament calls to worship. Creation ‑‑ Worship before the Fall =‑‑ The worship wars ‑‑ Worship and promise ‑‑ Worship and deliverance ‑‑ Worship from the tent ‑‑ Preparation and choice B Worship in the books of history. From Judges to Kings ‑‑ Devotion in a Davidic kingdom ‑‑ A nation captive then set free ‑‑ Worship in the Psalms ‑‑ Worship in the books of wisdom , part. 1 B Worship in the books of wisdom , part. 12 ‑‑ Worship in the prophetic books ‑‑ pt. 2. New Testament principles of worship. Worship in the gospels, part 1 ‑‑ Worship in the gospels, part 2 ‑‑ Worship in the early church ‑‑ Worship in the epistles : Romans 2‑Corinthians ‑‑ Worship in the epistles : Galatians and beyond.


Bowes, Kimberly Diane.  Private Worship, Public Values, and Religious Change in Late Antiquity.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Contents:  An empire of friends and family : public and private in Roman religions ‑‑ Public and private in Roman paganism ‑‑ Public and private as legal categories ‑‑ The public priesthoods : family and patronage ‑‑Consecratiodedicatio : marking public and private religious space ‑‑ Household cults and their public roles ‑‑ Public and private in the “unofficial cults” ‑‑Superstitio and magia : tensions between public and private ‑‑ Communal and private in second and third‑century Christianity ‑‑ From home to domus ecclesia : the Christian collective in flux ‑‑ Christian private ritual ‑‑ Private and collective ritual in Christian thought ‑‑ Public and private in pagan and Christian thought ‑‑ Two Christian capitals : private worship in Rome and Constantinople ‑‑ Rome ‑‑ Pre‑constantinian realities ‑‑ The Roman Tituli‑‑ Going to church in fourth and early fifth century Rome : the continuation of house‑churches ‑‑ The home as church : domestic piety and the conversion of Rome’s elite B Contesting the private in late fourth century Rome ‑‑ Constantinople ‑‑ Fourth centuries realities ‑‑ Constantinople’s Christian topography : a city of private churches ‑‑ Bishops and private churches ‑‑ Monks and the private ‑‑ “Christianizing” the countryside : rural estates and private cult ‑‑ The fourth century countryside ‑‑ The forms of estate worship : villa churches, mausolea, and “monasteries” ‑‑ Social qualities of estate‑based Christianity ‑‑ Bishops and rural elites : estate Christianity in local context ‑‑ Working with bishops : North Africa ‑‑ What bishop : northern Italy, Britain and the absence of the church hierarchies ‑‑ Bishops versus elites : Hispania and southwestern Gaul ‑‑ Ideologies of the private : private cult and the construction of heresy and sanctity B Contesting private worship : heresy and the home ‑‑ Roman law and Christian law : ideologies of private cult ‑‑ Homes on the defensive ‑‑ Promoting private worship : constructing ideals of female sanctity ‑‑ The private in the vita macrina‑‑ The private and female heresy.


Pierce, Truman M.  Enthroned On Our Praise: An Old Testament Theology of Worship.  Nashville: B & H Academic, 2008.

Contents:  The primeval prologue : relations in worship ‑‑ The Pentateuch : foundations of worship ‑‑ The former prophets : patterns of worship ‑‑ The latter prophets : attitudes in worship ‑‑ The Writings : expressions in worship ‑‑ Conclusion: Where do we go from here?


Webber, Robert.  Ancient‑Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008.

Contents:  Worship does God’s story ‑‑ Worship remembers the past ‑‑ Worship anticipates the future ‑‑ How the fullness of God’s story became lost ‑‑ Worship: transformed by remembrance and anticipation B Word: transformed by the narrative nature of Scripture ‑‑ Eucharist: transformed by the presence of God at table ‑‑ Prayer: transformed by recovering the style of ancient worship ‑‑ Conclusion: my journey toward an ancient‑future worship ‑‑ Appendix: a call to an ancient evangelical future.


Kauflin, Bob.  Worship Matters: Leading Others To Encounter the Greatness of God.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008.

Contents:  What matters ‑‑ Your task ‑‑ Healthy tensions ‑‑ Right relationships.


Krahn, Karmen.  Proclamation By Design: The Visual Arts in Worship.  Scottdale, PA: Faith & Life Resources, 2008.


Byars, Ronald P.  What Language Shall I Borrow?: The Bible and Christian Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2008.

Contents:  The recovery of biblical language in Christian worship ‑‑ Gathering ‑‑ The word ‑‑ The Eucharist ‑‑ Sending.


Boulton, Matthew Myer.  God Against Religion: Rethinking Christian Theology Through Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2008.

Contents:  Introduction: Rethinking theology through worship in the reformed tradition ‑‑ The invention of God ‑‑ Karl Barth on worship as “fall” ‑‑ The work of “religion” ‑‑ The creation of Eve ‑‑ Revelation, idolatry, and the Holy Spirit ‑‑ Rereading Genesis 2‑4 ‑‑ Eden and intimacy ‑‑Leitourgia and separation ‑‑ Religion and murder ‑‑ “We pray by His mouth” ‑‑ Karl Barth on worship as “reconciliation” ‑‑ The work of human being ‑‑ The work of gratitude ‑‑ Conspiracy and solidarity ‑‑ Martin Luther and Christian life ‑‑ Martin Luther’s simul‑‑ Penitential life ‑‑ Baptismal life ‑‑ God against religion ‑‑ A theology of invocation ‑‑ The end of Christianity ‑‑ The play of redemption ‑‑ Postlude : Reforming worship ‑‑ “No difference at all” ‑‑ “All the difference in the world” ‑‑ Christian Baptism ‑‑ Christian Communion.


Corbitt, Danny.  Missing More Than Music: When Disputable Matters Eclipse Worship and Unity.  Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2008.

Contents:  My journey ‑‑ What happened to praise when Jesus came? ‑‑Five disputable matters ‑‑ Why do scholar’s disagree? ‑‑Why did the early church chant? ‑‑The “Just don’t call it worship” loophole part 1: Do verses on singing praise apply to our “private” lives? ‑‑ The “Just don’t call it worship” loophole part 2: The kind of worshippers the Father seeks ‑‑ Looking for evidence ‑‑ A Cappella isn’t in the Bible ‑‑ Praise as it “Once was” . . . and was prophesied yet to be ‑‑ Why would God nail “David’s praise” to the cross? ‑‑When listening to praise is a sin ‑‑ You might have a man‑made rule if… B Is it worth splitting the church? ‑‑Setting aside our gift at the altar ‑‑ Appendix A: My Song.


Tozer, A. W.  The Worship‑Driven Life: The Reason We Were Created.  Oxford: Monarch, 2008.


Worton, Roland.  Emerging Worship: Becoming Part of the Sound and Song of Heaven.  Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Pubs., Inc., 2008.

Contents:  Soundforgers‑‑ Forging sound ‑‑ Priestly worship ‑‑ Prophetic worship ‑‑ Government ‑‑ Decrees & declarations ‑‑ Apostolic worship ‑‑ Navigating the current season ‑‑ Emerging characteristics B Unlocking emerging worship ‑‑ Fathering the soundforgers‑‑ Implementation.


Bradshaw, Paul, ed. Worship Changes Lives: How It Works, Why It Matters.  London: Church House Publishing, 2008.


Attah, Mmaeyen.  In It To Win It: Creative Empowerment for Worship Musicians.  Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2008.

Contents:  First words ‑‑ Section one, Chapter One: Why are you doing this? ‑‑ Can we talk? We need to talk ‑‑ Let nothing hinder the praise worship you give God ‑‑ Chapter Two: You‑The worshipper who is a worshipper? ‑‑The miss thang/Mr it syndrome! ‑‑A look in the mirror ‑‑ Here’s an idea ‑‑ Who do people say you are? ‑‑ A multi‑way vessel ‑‑ …Before we finish with this ‑‑ Chapter Three: Different gifts ‑‑ Team welfare ‑‑ Team leadership ‑‑ A quick aside ‑‑ More on team leadership Section Two, Chapter One: Are you where you should be? ‑‑ Parable of talents re‑visited ‑‑Another quick aside ‑‑ More on related matters ‑‑ The centre of God’s will ‑‑ spend time with God ‑‑ Self check! ‑‑ Chapter Two: Mind programmes‑‑ …Fear ‑‑ Muscular and mental programmes‑‑It’s just a habit…kick it! ‑‑ Do the work‑Get the result ‑‑Four steps ‑‑ Self check! ‑‑ Characteristics check ‑‑Self check again! ‑‑ Chapter Three: Habitual fears‑a closer analysis ‑‑ Inner conversations‑introducing‑’Your tafia’ and ‘Truly you’ ‑‑ Awareness ‑‑ You can choose your source of feedback (aka diminishing your tafia) ‑‑ Home in ‑‑ Take authority shrink your fears ‑‑ Back to awareness ‑‑ Chapter Four: Choose to participate in the music ‑‑ Points of focus ‑‑ The immediacy of music B Chapter Five: Truly you ‑‑ Handing over to truly you.   Section Three, Chapter One: Corporate praise worship in Pentecostal churches ‑‑ Different musical styles in worship ‑‑ Chapter Two: Abandon yourself completely to God in worship ‑‑ Interference again ‑‑ Dig deeper ‑‑ Chapter Four: Starting to understand the anointing ‑‑Labour of love ‑‑ More on the anointing ‑‑ Corporate anointing ‑‑ Ask and receive ‑‑ Manifesting God’s anointing ‑‑ Another quick aside ‑‑ Your spirit ‑‑ Conclusion ‑‑FInal words ‑‑ End word ‑‑ Appendix.


Robinson, C. Guy.  Whatever It Takes!: Setting the Atmosphere for Worship.  Tucson, AZ: Wheatmark, 2008.

Contents:  Preface‑‑ An inspired moment ‑‑ The covenant: the call to relationship ‑‑ Consecration: the call to life commitment ‑‑ Convocation: the call to unity ‑‑ Celebration: the call to boast in the Lord! ‑‑Closing thoughts ‑‑ References ‑‑ Biography.


Bloomquist, Barbara.  Teaching Children to Worship.  Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 2008.


Kapp, Deborah J.  Worship Frames: How We Shape and Interpret our Experience of God. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2008.

Frames ‑‑Frames define action ‑‑ Frames focus attention ‑‑ Frames shape community ‑‑

Frames articulate vocation ‑‑ Frames, worship, and change ‑‑ Strengthening worship frames.


Kimball, Dan.  Sacred Space: A Hands‑On Guide to Creating Multisensory Worship Experiences for Youth Ministry.  Grand Rapids, MI: Youth Specialties, Zondervan, 2008.

Summary:  Sacred Space provides dozens of ideas to help students engage in scripture and apply the lesson to their own lives. You’ll find step‑by‑step instructions to create the space and experience necessary to draw your students into the scripture. Through art, listening, writing, and multi‑sensory prayer stations, your students will experience God’s Word in a whole new way.


Willimon, William H.  A Guide to Preaching and Leading Worship.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.

Contents:  Sunday morning : evaluating and planning the service ‑‑ The service : effective liturgical leadership ‑‑ Public prayer : speaking and listening to God ‑‑ The table and the font : celebrating the Lord’s Supper and Baptism ‑‑ The Word in worship : how to construct a biblical sermon ‑‑ Giving the Word : sermon delivery ‑‑ Text and context : sermon planning and evaluation ‑‑ Getting everyone into the act : lay involvement in planning and evaluating worship.


Schnase, Robert C.  Five Practices: Passionate Worship.  Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008.


Abernethy, Alexis D., ed.  Worship That Changes Lives: Multidisciplinary and Congregational Perspectives on Spiritual Transformation.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.

Contents:  Introduction: Spiritual experience, worship, and transformation / Alexis D. Abernethy ‑‑ Part 1: Theology of worship ‑‑Worship as a locus for transformation / Clayton J. Schmit‑‑ The cumulative power of transformation in public worship : cultivating gratitude and expectancy for the Holy Spirit’s work / John D. Witvliet‑‑ Part 2: Worship and the arts ‑‑ Worship, dramatic arts, and the agogic moment / Todd Farley ‑‑ Dance and transformation : praising through brokenness to holiness in worship / Asha Ragin, Todd Farley, and Jo‑Ann Hoye‑‑ Transformation and the visual arts : a (Protestant) methodological inquiry into imagery and worship / William Dyrness‑‑ Rated “R” for mystery : worship lessons learned from the movies / Robert Johnston ‑‑ The Trinity encounter and all that jazz : can jazz transform us spiritually? / Tyson Chung and Charsie Sawyer ‑‑ Under the mango tree : worship, song, and spiritual transformation in Africa / Roberta R. King ‑‑ Part 3: Worship narratives and transformation ‑‑ Contemporary perspectives on worship : emerging forms of worship in the United States and United Kingdom / Ryan K. Bolger ‑‑ Transformational worship in the life of a church / Kenneth C. Ulmer ‑‑ A study of transformation in worship : psychological, cultural, and psychophysiological perspectives / Alexis D. Abernethy and Charlotte vanOyenWitvliet‑‑ The voice of the congregation : stories revealing the process of transformation / Alexis D. Abernethy ‑‑ Worship as transformed lives / Alvin Dueck‑‑ Call and response : authors’ commentary on lessons learned from the congregation / Alexis D. Abernethy ‑‑ Implications for theology, research, and worship practice / Alexis D. Abernethy.


Bock, Susan K.  Liturgy For the Whole Church: Resources for Multigenerational Worship.  New York: Church Pub., 2008.

Contents:  Introduction: Church is for the child ‑‑ Theological foundations ‑‑ Children and worship ‑‑ Guidelines for pastors and liturgists ‑‑ Guidelines for parents and other adults ‑‑ A meditation on the child in church ‑‑ Preaching for the child ‑‑ A skit for grown‑ups and children ‑‑ Methods of storytelling ‑‑ Prayers of the people for the children of God ‑‑ The season of Advent ‑‑ Christmas ‑‑ Epiphany B Lent ‑‑ Easter ‑‑ The season after Pentecost ‑‑ All saints.


Borchert, Gerald L.  Worship in the New Testament: Divine Mystery and Human Response. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2008.

Contents:  Testifying about Jesus : reflections on worship in the Gospels ‑‑ Devoted to the forming of new Christian worshiping communities : reflections on the Book of Acts ‑‑ Caring for and counseling the new Christian worshiping communities : reflections on the Pauline Epistles and Hebrews ‑‑ Pastoral concerns for worshiping communities : reflections on the Catholic Epistles ‑‑ Mysterious cosmic expectations of the new worshiping community : reflections on the Book of Revelation ‑‑ Concluding reflections on the New Testament canon and worship in the contemporary world.


Cadena, Richard.  Lighting Design for Modern Houses of Worship.  Las Vegas, NV: Timeless Communications, 2008.


Patterson, Dave.  Lessons for the Worship Team: A Resource for Pastors and Worship Leaders; leader’s manual.  Las Vegas, NV: ABCPublishing, 2008.


Wigton, Don.  Holy Wars: Living Worship in the Cultural Storm.  Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2008.


Johnson, Barry C.  A Change is Gonna’ Come: The Transformation of a Traditional To a Contemporary Worship Celebration.  Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2008.


Harland, Mike.  Seven Words of Worship: The Key to a Lifetime of Experiencing God. Nashville, TN: LifeWay, 2008.

Contents:  Heart of worship ‑‑ Creation ‑‑Grace ‑‑ Love ‑‑ Response ‑‑ Expression ‑‑ Presence ‑‑ Experience.


Bechtel, Carol M., ed.  Touching the Altar: The Old Testament for Christian Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2008.

Contents:  Introduction / Carol M. Bechtel ‑‑ Sacred time: the sabbath and Christian worship / Dennis T. Olson ‑‑ Drama and the sacred: recovering the dramatic tradition in Scripture and worship / Thomas A. Boogaart‑‑ Isaiah in Christian liturgy: recovering textual contrasts and correcting theological astigmatism / John D. Witvliet‑‑ No explanations in the church: two sermons on the prophets / Ellen F. Davis ‑‑ Finding a treasure map: sacred space in the Old Testament / Corrine L. Carvalho‑‑ The hope of the poor: the Psalms in worship and our search for justice / J. Clinton McCann JrB Knowing our limits: Job’s wisdom on worship / Carol M. Bechtel


Wallace, Robin Knowles.  Worshiping in the Small Membership Church.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2008.

Contents:  Worship : a convergence or meeting place ‑‑ Begin where you are : involving the congregation in worship leadership and participation ‑‑ Our context : the worship space ‑‑ Getting ready to plan the weekly service ‑‑ Planning the actual service ‑‑ Baptism and Communion ‑‑ The arts in worship ‑‑ Select ideas for congregations up to one hundred.


Joyce, Derek.  When Will Jesus Be Enough?: Reclaiming the Power of Worship.  Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008.

Contents:  Just give them Jesus! ‑‑ Worship worth giving your life for ‑‑ Reclaiming the power of worship through praise ‑‑ Reclaiming the power of worship through prayer ‑‑ Reclaiming the power of worship through study ‑‑ Reclaiming the power of worship through Communion ‑‑ Be willing to fail ‑‑ Be fearless.


Chisum, John.  The 5 Keys to Engaging Worship: Transforming Worship From the Inside Out. Galax, VA: Engage! Press, 2008.

Contents:  Why I am a worship leader ‑‑ The five keys to engaging worship ‑‑ Key one: spiritual passion ‑‑ Key two: organization ‑‑ Key three: relationships ‑‑ Key four: personal growth ‑‑ Key five: living leadership ‑‑ The unseen key: leading by the spirit.


Hamilton, Reid.  Better Get It in Your Soul: What Liturgists Can Learn From Jazz.  New York, NY: Church Pub., 2008.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑  Jazz liturgy 101 ‑‑  Planning and celebrating jazz liturgy : harmolodics and homiletics ‑‑  A jazz mass : Constance and her companions ‑‑  Collaboration between musician and priest/pastor ‑‑  Diversity and context ‑‑  Liturgical space is part of your context ‑‑  The theology of singing and an exploration of style ‑‑  Where can we find the musicians? ‑‑  Sources‑‑  Church musician : gig or calling?


Boone, Dan.  The Worship Plot: Finding Unity in Our Common Story.  Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2007.

Contents:  Entrance: locating ourselves ‑‑ The bad news ‑‑ The good news ‑‑ The response of the people ‑‑ The blessing.


Prince, Derek.  Entering the Presence of God: Moving Beyond Praise & Thanksgiving To True Worship.  New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2007.

Contents:  An attitude in God’s presence ‑‑ Our appropriate response ‑‑ In spirit and in truth ‑‑ The pattern of the tabernacle : the outer court ‑‑ The pattern of the tabernacle : the holy place ‑‑ The pattern of the tabernacle : the Holy of Holies ‑‑ Four blessings of the new covenant ‑‑ Four requirements of true worshipers ‑‑ Our physical attitude of worship ‑‑ The inevitability of worship ‑‑ Worshiping at the throne.


Arnold, Talitha.  Worship For Vital Congregations.  Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2007.

Contents:  Introduction: When does worship begin? ‑‑ The river of life ‑‑ What is worship? ‑‑ No tangible goods or services : why worship? ‑‑ Sacred rhythm : structure and elements ‑‑ A pilgrimage in time : the year in worship ‑‑ The Word as sacrament : preaching ‑‑ Bread, water, and infinity : the sacraments ‑‑ “Sing alleluia‑‑ and keep on walking” : music in worship ‑‑ Friends and neighbors : being the worshipping community ‑‑ Hope is a muscle : keeping worship vital.


Irvine, Christopher, ed. The Use of Symbols in Worship.  London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2007.

Contents:  1. The language of symbols / Christopher Irvine ‑‑ 2. Water / Christopher Irvine ‑‑ 3. Oil / Simon Jones ‑‑ 4. Light / Christopher Irvine ‑‑ 5. Incense / Benjamin Gordon‑Taylor ‑‑ 6. Weddings and funerals / Sarah Farrimond.


Hooper, William L.  Worship Leadership for Worship Leaders.  Petersburg, VA: Alexander Publishing, 2007.


Logan, Andrew P.  Plugging Into Real Worship: Why We Must Do It.  Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 2007.


Brackett, Everol.  The Fundamentals of Praise and Worship.  Wilmington, DE: Cornerstone Pub. Inc., 2007.


Graybeal, Lynda L.  Prayer and Worship: A Spiritual Formation Guide.  New York, NY: HarperOne, 2007.


Henderson, Bobby.  Understanding Praise and Worship.  Charlotte, NC: LifeBridge Books, 2007.


Getty, Keith.  Institute for Christian Worship Lectures, 2007, Feb. 22 [DVD videorecording]. [SBTS], 2007.

Contents:  Pt. 1. New Irish hymns ; Pt. 2. The making of worship songs for the modern church.


Stella, Constance E.  Wiring Your Church for Worship.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2007.


Noland, Rory.  The Worshiping Artist: Equipping You and Your Ministry Team To Lead Others in Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007.

Contents:  Worshiping in spirit ‑‑ Worshiping in truth ‑‑ Learning from ancient worship leaders.


Labberton, Mark.  The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2007.

Contents:  What’s at stake in worship? ‑‑ The real battle over worship ‑‑ False dangers ‑‑ Real dangers ‑‑ Waking up to where we live ‑‑ Doing justice starts with rest ‑‑ When worship talks to power ‑‑ Dwelling in exodus or in exile? ‑‑An imagination for justice ‑‑ Living awake ‑‑ Epilogue.


Gaines, Steve.  When God Comes To Church: Experiencing the Fullness of His Presence. Nashville, TN: B&H, 2007.


Stapert, Calvin.  A New Song for An Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.

Contents:  Prelude: honor father and mother ‑‑ The song of the church in the New Testament ‑‑ The church in a pagan society ‑‑ Clement of Alexandria : musical cosmology and composed manners ‑‑ Tertullian : pagan spectacles and Christian households ‑‑ Expansion and persecution, triumph and trouble ‑‑ St. Ambrose : administrator and mystic ‑‑ St. John Chrysostom : Christian households amid the devil’s garbage heap ‑‑ Rejection : the music of a pagan world ‑‑ Affirmation : Psalms and hymns ‑‑ St. Augustine : the problems of eloquence and inordinate love.


Sacks, Cheryl.  The Prayer Saturated Church: A Comprehensive Handbook for Prayer Leaders. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2007.


Kenoly, Ron.  The Priority of Praise & Worship: Learning To Give Back To God.  Panama City, FL: Parsons Publishing House, 2007.

Contents:  Introduction‑‑ Relationship: the first priority ‑‑ What does God receive in our church services? ‑‑ Why is it important to worship God? ‑‑What is praise? ‑‑ Word study on praise ‑‑What is worship? B Balanced with the Word ‑‑ Songs of worship ‑‑Worship or work ‑‑ New Testament worship ‑‑Worship in spirit & truth ‑‑ Praise & worship: my priority.


Neyrey, Jerome H.  Give God the Glory: Ancient Prayer and Worship in Cultural Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.

Contents:  “Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” (1 Timothy 2:1) ‑‑ Prayer, in other words : reading with cultural lenses ‑‑ Five New Testament prayers, in other words ‑‑ Praise of God’s uniqueness, who is “first,” “only,” and “no one else” ‑‑ Worship, in other words : appropriate cultural models ‑‑ Worship in the Fourth Gospel : a cultural interpretation of John 14‑17 ‑‑ The Didache and Justin’s First apology : descriptions of Christian worship.


Farhadian, Charles E. Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons, Deepening Practices.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2007.

Contents:  Beyond lambs and logos : Christianity, cultures, and worship worldwide / Charles E. Farhadian‑‑ The Ephesians moment in worldwide worship : a meditation on Revelation 21 and Ephesians 2 / Andrew Walls ‑‑ Worship among apostles and Zionists in southern Africa, Zimbabwe / Dana Robert and InusDaneel‑‑ The Mar Thoma Christians of Kerala : a study of the relationship between liturgy and mission in the Indian context / Philip Wickeri‑‑ A traditional thanksgiving festival in South Korea : Chusok / SeungJoongJoo‑‑ Worship and culture in Latin America / Miguel A. Palomino and Samuel Escobar ‑‑ Worship in the Amazon : the case of the Aguaruna Evangelical Church / Robert Priest ‑‑ Celebrating Pentecost in Leauva’a : worship, symbols, and dance in Samoa / Thomas Kane, CSP ‑‑ Worship as mission : the personal and social ends of West Papuan worship in the glory hut / Charles E. Farhadian‑‑ Participation in worship, worship‑full hearts : a meditation on Luke 7 and Matthew 15 / OgbuKalu‑‑ Praying globally : pitfalls and possibilities of cross‑cultural liturgical appropriation / C. Michael Hawn ‑‑ Liturgical theology and criticism : things of heaven and things of the earth : some reflections on worship, world Christianity, and culture / Bryan D. Spinks ‑‑ Interfaith comparison and assessment : Muslim worship : interfaith assets and                  ecumenical shortcomings / LaminSanneh‑‑ Afterword : Inculturation, worship, and dispositions for ministry / John D. Witvliet‑‑ Appendix : The Nairobi statement.


Bradshaw, Paul, ed. Foundations in Ritual Studies: A Reader for Students of Christian Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

Contents:  An open letter / Romano Guardini‑‑ Ritual / Mark Searle ‑‑ For our own purposes : the appropriation of the social sciences in liturgical studies / John D. Witvliet‑‑ Purity and danger ; Natural symbols / Mary Douglas ‑‑Liminality and communitas ; The forest of symbols / Victor Turner ‑‑ New directions in ritual research / Nathan D. Mitchell ‑‑ Modes of ritual sensibility ; Liturgical supinity, liturgical erectitude : on the embodiment of ritual authority / Ronald L. Grimes ‑‑ Ritual, change, and changing rituals ; The authority of ritual experts / Catherine Bell ‑‑ Liturgical theology : a task and a method / Margaret Mary Kelleher.


Byrd, Terriel R.  I shall not Be Moved: Racial Separation in Christian Worship.  Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2007.

Contents:  The emergence of the church and its place in American society ‑‑‑ The role of the Black church in a fragmented society ‑‑ The American family, church tradition and theology ‑‑ Sacred, secular, or merely sinful ‑‑ The high cost of reconciliation ‑‑ The fanciful interplay of color and culture ‑‑ The layers of meaning found in religious worldviews ‑‑ The 21st century church: a covenant community ‑‑ Changed attitudes: transformed church ‑‑ A final word on the theology of integration ‑‑ Group discussion questions.


Edie, Fred P.  Book, Bath, Table, and Time: Christian Worship As Source and Resource for Youth Ministry.  Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2007.

Contents:  Christian worship as the generative context for youth ministry ‑‑ Finding themselves at the table : youth practice God’s presence, identity, and their own vocations through Eucharistic worship ‑‑ Being creative and creative being : art, incarnation, and youth’s embodied communion with God and neighbor ‑‑ The book becomes script : youth practice storied performances of the Bible B Contemplating the bath : doing baptismal theology with youth through the Ordo‑‑ Believing in time : forming youth through prayerful temporal rhythms ‑‑Ordo‑nary practice : youth live liturgically in the world ‑‑ Plunging in : baptismal vocation and youth’s ministry.


Prentice, David A.  Loaves & Fishes Worship Team Planning: Transforming Small Church Resources Into Quality Music Ministry.  Baltimore, MD: Publish America,  2007.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑ Objectives & essentials ‑‑ Starting the song ‑‑Song navigation ‑‑ Platform set‑up issues ‑‑ Musicianship ‑‑ Rehearsals: objectives & essentials ‑‑ Worship styles ‑‑ Sheet music B Recruiting ‑‑ Sound ‑‑ Worship ministry ‑‑ “The sacred trust” ‑‑ Reference materials and websites.


Hayford, Jack W.  The Reward of Worship: The Joy of Fellowship With A Personal God.  Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2007.


Ellis, Christopher, ed.  Gathering for Worship: Patterns and Prayers for the Community of Disciples.  Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2007.


Ritchie, Daniel F. N.  The Regulative Principle of Worship: Explained and Applied.  Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2007.


Costen, Melva Wilson.  African American Christian Worship.  Rev. ed.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2007.

Contents:  Preface: A call to worship ‑‑ A theology of African American worship ‑‑ The African religious heritage ‑‑ Worship in the invisible institution ‑‑ Praise house worship ‑‑ Rituals, sacraments, and ordinances ‑‑ Origins and practices of African American denominations and congregations ‑‑ How music, preaching, and prayer shape contemporary African American ‑‑ Worship ‑‑Worship as empowerment.


Wright, Gary Douglas.  Worship Awakening: An Urgent Message for the Dying American Church. Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Pub., 2007.


Miller, Barbara Day.  The New Pastor’s Guide To Leading Worship.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2006.

Contents:  The pastor as leader : preparing to lead ‑‑ Leading worship on your first Sunday ‑‑ Rituals : the “way we do it here” ‑‑ Leading in the worship service ‑‑ Leading the prayers : praying with the people B Leading at the table : Holy Communion ‑‑ Leading at the font : Baptism ‑‑ Leading through seasons and times : the Christian year ‑‑ Leading with musicians ‑‑ Leading worship with the hymnal : singing a new song ‑‑ Leading an expanded practice : reflection on the patterns ‑‑ Leading the people into leadership : expanding and renewing ‑‑ Leading the preparation : planning together ‑‑ The pastor as leader : ongoing work.


Pilavachi, Mike.  When Necessary, Use Words: Changing Lives Through Worship, Justice and Evangelism.  Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2006.


Getty, Keith.  Institute for Christian Worship Lectures, 2006, Mar. 27‑28 [DVD videorecording]. [SBTS], 2006.

Contents:  World music for the universal church / Keith Getty ‑‑ Irish hymns : a singing faith for the worshiping church ; A musical and poetic vernacular for worship : finding a heart language for the modern church / Keith and Kristyn Getty.


Segler, Franklin M.  Christian Worship: Its Theology and Practice.  Nashville, TN: Broadman& Holman, 2006.

Contents:  The meaning of worship ‑‑ What is worship? ‑‑ Biblical foundations ‑‑ Historical backgrounds ‑‑ A theology of worship ‑‑ A psychology of worship ‑‑Worship, renewal, and the world ‑‑ Community and worship ‑‑ Postmodernism and worship ‑‑ Expressing worship ‑‑ Music in worship ‑‑ Prayer in worship ‑‑ Verbal communication in worship ‑‑ Learning styles and worship ‑‑ Children in worship ‑‑ Baptism and the Lord’s Supper ‑‑ Other acts of worship ‑‑ The use of symbols ‑‑ Architecture, acoustics, and worship ‑‑ The Christian year and other special days ‑‑ The arts in worship ‑‑ Rites of passage ‑‑ Planning and leading worship ‑‑ Planning the order of worship ‑‑ Leading worship ‑‑ Managing and leading worship change ‑‑ The ordinary of the mass ‑‑ Weeding policies ‑‑ Copyright guidelines: the United States Copyright Law.


Ross, Allen P.  Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship From the Garden To the New Creation.  Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2006.

Contents:  Worshipping the God of glory ‑‑ The memory of paradise ‑‑ Worship with proclamation: the development of true worship in a religious world ‑‑ Worship with sacrifice: the establishment of sanctity in worship ‑‑Worship as praise: the provision for celebration in worship ‑‑Worship reformed: prophetic rebukes and reforms ‑‑ Worship transformed: the new setting of worship and the new covenant B Worship in Christ: patterns of worship in the early church ‑‑ The perfection of worship in glory ‑‑ Basic principles for more glorious worship.


Scheer, Greg.  The Art of Worship: A Musician’s Guide To Leading Modern Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.

Contents:  Introduction: My journey into worship (or, confessions of a failed rock star). About this book ; Defining the terms ‑‑ Setting the stage. Assess your church’s situation ; Spread the vision ; Attend to details ‑‑ Assembling the team. Recruiting ; Interviewing ; Establishing a new worship team ‑‑ Building repertoire. Repertoire is theology ; Analyzing repertoire ; Evaluating song quality ; Finding new praise songs ; Introducing new music ‑‑ Planning worship. The art of worship ; Understanding service structure ; Adapting structure and style ; Practical worship‑planning techniques ; Modulation types ‑‑ Making music. The role of the worship team ; Vocalists ; Vocal harmony ; Guitar ; Piano ; Bass ; Drums ; Brass, woodwinds and strings ; Keyboards ; Using what god has given you ; Informing your ear ; Putting it all together ‑‑ Timeless hymns in a contemporary context. A case for context ; Study the original hymn’s text ; Study the original hymn’s music ; Establish the groove ; Change chords ; Embellish ‑‑ Rehearsing and leading. Preparing for rehearsal ; Rehearsing ; Leading worship ‑‑ Looking to the future. A new generation of worshipers ; The next generation of worship leaders.


Butzu, David A.  Generations of Praise: The History of Worship.  Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 2006.

Contents:  Jewish backgrounds to Christian worship ‑‑Worship in the New Testament ‑‑

The first three centuries ‑‑ The empire: 312‑600 ‑‑ Worship in the Eastern churches ‑‑ The Western church in the Middle Ages ‑‑ Worship Reformations: 1600‑1800 ‑‑ Post‑Reformation developments ‑‑ The nineteenth century ‑‑ The twentieth century ‑‑ The present and trends.


Berglund, Brad.  Reinventing Worship: Prayers, Readings, Special Services, and More.  Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2006.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑ Leading worship ‑‑ Prayers and blessings for worship ‑‑ Opening ‑‑ Confessing ‑‑ Lamenting ‑‑ Healing and reconciling ‑‑ Celebrating the congregation ‑‑ Celebrating the family B Responding ‑‑ Sending ‑‑ Seasonal resources ‑‑Resources for weddings and funerals ‑‑ Miscellaneous resources.


White, Susan J.  Foundations of Christian Worship.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.


Chan, Simon.  Liturgical Theology: The Church As Worshiping Community.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006

Contents:  The ontology of the church ‑‑ The worship of the church ‑‑ The shape of the liturgy ‑‑ The liturgy as ecclesial practice ‑‑ The catechumenate ‑‑ The Sunday liturgy ‑‑ Active participation.


Glick, Robert P.  With All Thy Mind: Worship That Honors the Way God Made Us.  Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2006.

Contents:  The human brain ‑‑ Historical survey of holistic brain issues ‑‑ The biblical call for hemispheric balance ‑‑ Worshiping with words ‑‑ Song, sacrament, and symbols ‑‑ Denominational ethos ‑‑ Reflections from an English cathedral ‑‑ Roadblocks to holistic worship ‑‑ The well‑tempered worship service.


Mitchell, Nathan.  Meeting Mystery: Liturgy, Worship, Sacraments.  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006.

Contents:  The hyper‑reality of worship ‑‑ Polyphony : the languages of liturgy.


Muchow, Rick.  The Worship Answer Book: More Than A Music Experience.  Nashville, TN: J. Countryman, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006.


Hodges, Houston.  Faith Alive: Interactive Worship for the Great New Church.  Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006.


Bush, Peter George.  Where 20 Or 30 Are Gathered: Leading Worship in the Small Church. Herndon, VA : Alban Institute, 2006.

Contents:  Blest be the tie that binds : models of congregational ministry ‑‑ Jesus, where’er thy people meet : the joys and challenges of small‑church worship ‑‑ To God be the glory : best worship practices in small congregations ‑‑ Ride on! ride on : best practices in the multi‑point charge ‑‑ Savior, like a shepherd lead us : best practices when there is no settled minister ‑‑ O breath of life, come sweeping through us : a model for tomorrow’s small congregations.


Hotz, Kendra G.  Shaping the Christian Life: Worship and the Religious Affections.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.

Contents:  An introduction to the religious affections ‑‑ Four features of the religious affections ‑‑ Fallen religious affections ‑‑ Redeemed religious affections ‑‑ Religious affections and the work of the church B The structure of worship: gathering, abiding, sending ‑‑ Prayer ‑‑ The service of the Word ‑‑ Sacraments.


Wainwright, Geoffrey, ed.  The Oxford History of Christian Worship.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Contents:  Christian worship : scriptural basis and theological frame / Geoffrey Wainwright ‑‑ The apostolic tradition / Maxwell E. Johnson ‑‑ The empire baptized / John F. Baldwin ‑‑ The ancient Oriental churches / Christine Chaillot‑‑ Excursus : the Maronites / Lucas Van Rompay‑‑ The conversion of the nations / Michael S. Driscoll ‑‑ Western Christendom / Timothy Thibodeau‑‑ Byzantine and Slavic Orthodoxy / Alexander Rentel‑‑ Reforms, Protestant and Catholic / Nathan D. Mitchell ‑‑ The age of revolutions / Conrad L. Donakowski‑‑ The Lutheran tradition in German lands / Hans‑Christoph Schmidt‑Lauber‑‑ The Lutheran tradition in Scandinavia / Nils‑Henrik ‑‑ The Reformed tradition / in Continental Europe : Switzerland, France, and Germany / Bruno Bürki‑‑ The Reformed tradition in the Netherlands / Harry Klaassens‑‑ The Reformed tradition in Scotland / Duncan B. Forrester ‑‑ The Reformed tradition in Korea / Seung‑JoongJoo and Kyeong‑Jin Kim ‑‑ Anglicans and dissenters / Bryan D. Spinks ‑‑ The church of South India / Samson Prabhakar‑‑ The Uniting Church in Australia / Robert W. Gribben‑‑ Mennonites / John Rempel‑‑ Baptists in Britain / Christopher Ellis B            Pentecostal and charismatic worship / Telford Work ‑‑ North America / Karen B. Westerfield Tucker ‑‑ Roman Catholics in Hispanic America / Jaime Lara ‑‑ Mainline Protestants in Latin America / Wilhelm Wachholz‑‑ Mission and inculturation : East Asia and the Pacific / Anscar J. Chupungco‑‑ Mission and inculturation : Africa / Nwaka Chris Egbulem‑‑ The liturgical movement and Catholic ritual revision / André Haquin‑‑ Ecumenical convergences / Geoffrey Wainwright ‑‑ Women in worship / Teresa Berger ‑‑ Liturgical music / William T. Flynn ‑‑ The spatial setting / James F. White ‑‑ Visual arts / MarchitaMauck‑‑ Vestments and objects / Joanne M. Pierce ‑‑ Retrospect and prospect / Geoffrey Wainwright and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker.


Crowley, Eileen D.  A Moving Word: Media Art in Worship.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006.


Lachman, David, ed.  Worship in the Presence of God: A Collection of Essays on the Nature, Elements, and Historic Views and Practice of Worship.  Fellsmere, FL: Reformation Media and Press, 2006.

Contents:  What is worship / Frank J. Smith ‑‑ The fear of the Lord in worship / Herman Hanko‑‑ The dialogical nature of worship in the Old Testament / E. Clark Copeland ‑‑ “Hear ye Him”: Worship in the New Testament / R. Sherman Isbell ‑‑ Second Commandment / William Young ‑‑ Christian liberty and worship / David C. Lachman‑‑ Family worship / Douglas F. Kelly ‑‑ An introduction to the elements  of worship / Frank J. Smith ‑‑ The reading of the Scriptures / Louis F. DeBoer‑‑ Worship and preaching / Henry Krabbendam‑‑ Song in public worship / John Murray ‑‑ The singing of praise / Frank J. Smith ‑‑ Prayer regulated by God’s Word / A. Michael Schneider, III ‑‑ The administration of the sacraments / Kerry W. “Pete” Hurst ‑‑ The occasional elements of worship / J. Cameron Fraser B History and worship / Frank J. Smith ‑‑ The Reformed creeds and the reconstruction of Christian worship / C. Gregg Singer ‑‑ John Knox and the reformation of worship in the Scottish Reformation / Kevin Reed ‑‑ “The acceptable way of worshipping the true God” / Thomas G. Reid, Jr. ‑‑ About the authors ‑‑ The OPC majority report on the content of worship song.


Hubley, John W.  Running the River of Praise: Wading in Pools of Worship.  Phoenix, AZ: Mindheart Foundation for Biblical Study, 2006.

“This volume is a report of textual studies on praise and worship recorded sequentially from Genesis to Revelation. By textual studies I mean a historical‑grammatical exegesis of the Hebrew and Greek words translated as praise and worship in the English Bible. It identifies the meaningful and practical dictinction between praise and worship, including their evolutionary development in the history of Israel and the early life of the churches.” p. xiii.


Stratford, Tim, ed.  Worship Window of the Urban Church.  London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2006.

Contents:  Regeneration and the kingdom of heaven / John Austin ‑‑ ‘Singing the Lord’s song’ / Kathy Galloway ‑‑ Liturgy as the people’s work / John Vincent ‑‑ Seeing with God’s eyes / Martin Wallace ‑‑ Apt liturgy: to lift eyes above the horizon / Ann Morisy and Ann Jeffries ‑‑ Worship on Upper Street, Islington / Graham Kings ‑‑ A triangle of stories / Mark Waters ‑‑ Urban worship: rooted in reality, routed through the people / Erica Dummow‑‑ Using worship to negotiate an action reflection cycle / Tim Stratford


Redman, Matt.  Inside Out Worship.  Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2005.

Contents:  Insights : inside, out worship / Darlene Zschech‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 1) : the gentle persuasion of authority / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : pictures of Jesus / Don Williams ‑‑ Psalm 119 : inseparable: the essential link between worship and word / Louie Giglio‑‑ Insights : remembering the story / J. D. Walt ‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt 2) : the awakening power of truth / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : choosing songs / Todd Proctor ‑‑ When the tears fall / Tim Hughes ‑‑ Insights : worship and suffering / Beth Redman ‑‑ Spiritual conversations outside the sanctuary / Sally Morgenthaler‑‑ Insights : remembering the poor / Nigel Morris ‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 3) : the shepherding instincts of a pastor / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : relationship and team / Brian Houston ‑‑ Understanding worship in the New Testament (pt. 1) / Chris Jack ‑‑ Insights : worshipping the trinity / Chris Cocksworth‑‑ Making our worship more trinitarian / Robin Parry ‑‑ Insights : worship and community / David Ruis‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 4) : the adventurous pursuit of creativity / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : relational accountability / Charlie Hall ‑‑ Psalm 16 : glory: it’s what you’re talking about / Louie Giglio‑‑ Insights : intentional relationship / David Crowder ‑‑ Understanding worship in the New Testament (pt. 2) / Chris Jack ‑‑ Insights : heart and mind / Jack Hayford‑‑ “You’ve got mail” / Paul Baloche‑‑ Insights : healthy sound‑checks / Andrew Philip ‑‑ Worship leading essentials (pt. 5) : the powerful insights of the prophetic / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : leading boldly but humbly / Chris Tomlin ‑‑ Psalming : becoming fluent in the language of worship / J. D. Walt ‑‑ Insights : songwriting / Tim Hughes ‑‑ Worship : cleansing the Christian mind / Don Williams ‑‑ Insights : loving God / Mike Pilavachi‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 6) : the brave perseverance of a visionary / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : unity / George Barna‑‑ Understanding worship in the New Testament (pt. 3) / Chris Jack ‑‑ Insights : creating community / Cindy Rethmeier‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 7) : the irreplaceable quality of humility / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : training up others / EoghanHeaslip‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 8) : the kingdom mind‑set of a mentor / Matt Redman ‑‑ Insights : building a team / Reuben Morgan ‑‑ Psalm 2 : worship for the nations / Don Williams ‑‑ Insights : the biblical roots of drumming / Terl Bryant ‑‑ Understanding worship in the New Testament (pt. 4) / Chris Jack ‑‑ Insights : congregational worship as a journey / Matt Redman ‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 9) : the constant expectation of the heavenly / Matt Redman ‑‑ 9 to 5 or 24/7? / Robin Mark ‑‑ Worship‑leading essentials (pt. 10) : the biblical perspective of the big picture / Matt Redman.


McMahan, Candace, ed. Engaging Worship: 20 Blueprints for Experiential Church Services.  Loveland, CO: Group Pub., 2005.

Contents:  The Spirit comes ‑‑ Weather the storms ‑‑ The persecuted church ‑‑ “He has removed our transgressions” ‑‑ Good ‘n’ plenty ‑‑ Taste the deep ‑‑ Infinitely creative Creator ‑‑ Tabernacle worship B Excavating the soul ‑‑ Face to face with God’s holiness ‑‑ Fear of commitment ‑‑ Hope ‑‑ Intentional living ‑‑ Kerygma ‑‑ Made special ‑‑ Reflection ‑‑ Remembering ‑‑ Redeemed ‑‑ Spoken word worship ‑‑ What God wants.


Navarro, Kevin J.  The Complete Worship Service: Creating a Taste of Heaven On Earth.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005.

Contents:  Longing for heaven ‑‑Heaven‑‑ A taste of heaven, the worship service ‑‑ Quality matters ‑‑ You’ve gotta be there ‑‑ Outreach marketing ‑‑ Parking, outside signage, and attendants ‑‑ Developing dynamic guest care teams and systems ‑‑ The worship center ‑‑ Music and the arts ‑‑ The Word of God ‑‑ The Eucharist ‑‑ Thanksgiving as the consummation of joy.


Waltz, Mark L.  First Impressions: Creating Wow Experiences in Your Church.  Loveland, CO: Group Pub., 2005.


Rognlien, Bob.  Experiential Worship: Encountering God With Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005.

Contents:  The greatest commandment : experiential worship is not optional! Why is worship so important? ; Worship and identity ; Worship and personal transformation ‑‑StrengthWorship : engaging and transforming the body. Physical matters! ; Engaging the senses in worship ; Creating space and opportunity for physical worship ‑‑MindWorship : engaging and transforming the intellect. Comprehending the incomprehensible ; From truth to understanding ; Strategies to connect with the mind ; Tools to connect with the mind ‑‑SoulWorship : engaging and transforming the emotions. Feeling our worship ; What are we afraid of? ; The power of emotion ; Art and the soul ‑‑HeartWorship : engaging and transforming the will. To do or not to do? ; Inviting a response ; What kind of response? ‑‑Making it happen! : a pathway for implementing experiential worship. Overcoming roadblocks to change ; From theory to practice ; Step one : worship themes ; Step two : creative collaboration ; Step three : implementation ; Step four : designing an order ; Step five : leading experientially ; Step six : evaluation ‑‑ Conclusion : further up and further in.


Ward, Pete.  Selling Worship: How What We Sing Has Changed the Church.  Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2005.

Contents:  Introduction‑‑Part one ‑ The Story of the Songs ‑‑ 1. The Means and the Early Days: Youth Praise and MGO ‑‑ 2. The Jesus Movement Has Landed ‑‑ 3. The Spreading Culture of Worship ‑‑ 4. The Shift to Worship ‑‑ 5. The Growing Market ‑‑ 6. Merchandising, Mergers, and Ministry ‑‑ Part Two ‑ Singing the Story ‑‑ 7. Teaching to Worship: Youth Praise and Sound of living Waters ‑‑ 8. Marching to Intimacy: Songs of Fellowship, Graham Kendrick and Songs of the Vineyard ‑‑ 9. The Heart of Worship: The Survivor Songbook ‑‑ Part Three ‑ Worship: A Critical Appreciation ‑‑ 10. Worship and Culture ‑‑ 11. Participation: From Folk to Fan ‑‑ 12. Songs as narratives of Encounter


Sample, Tex.  Powerful Persuasion: Multimedia Witness in Christian Worship.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005.

Contents:  Practicing the story ‑‑ Pitching tent ‑‑ Multisensory, multimedia rhetoric ‑‑Imagophobia and the use of images ‑‑ Sound as music and beat ‑‑ Let there be light ‑‑ Movement and dance ‑‑ Figural ensemble in performance, story, and immersion ‑‑ The prophetic use of figure in Hebrew poetry ‑‑ The prophetic use of figure in electronic culture ‑‑ Critical immersion.


Miller, Karen Farish.  Brief Dramas for Worship: Twelve Ready‑To‑Use Scripts.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005.

Contents:  The Bethlehem child : children in poverty / by Brenda Motley Newman ‑‑ Eli’s wife : a husband’s tale brings hope for peace / by Brenda Motley Newman ‑‑ Caroline : a waitress receives the living water of acceptance and hope / by Brenda Motley Newman ‑‑ Mary : daring to hope again / by Karen Farish Miller ‑‑ Martha : prescription for peace / by Karen Farish Miller ‑‑ Lydia : a witness to the power of Christ to open hearts, open minds, and open doors / by Karen Farish Miller ‑‑ Mary Fletcher : a young woman’s faith leads to holiness and reform / by Brenda Motley Newman ‑‑ Storm‑tossed family and dried‑up hope : Jesus’ power over storms / by Brenda Motley Newman ‑‑ Margaret : a grieving mother yearns for her wayward son / by Brenda Motley Newman ‑‑ Mattie May : a mountain woman’s tale of a gracious plenty / by Karen Farish Miller ‑‑ Bathsheba and King Dave : the bigger the ego, the harder the fall / by Karen Farish Miller ‑‑ Esther : chosen for such a time as this / by Karen Farish Miller.


Brueggemann, Walter.  Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005.

Contents:  OrthodoxYahwism in dialogic modes ‑‑ The gestures of worship and sacrifice ‑‑ The utterance of YHWH in worship ‑‑ The utterance of Israel in worship ‑‑Worship : Israel at “play”.


De Waal Malefyt, Norma.  Designing Worship Together: Models and Strategies for Worship Planning.  Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2005.

Contents:  The case for collaboration ‑‑ Structuring the planning process ‑‑ Writing a congregational worship statement ‑‑ Planning the worship calendar ‑‑ Weekly worship planning ‑‑ Worship evaluation B Appendix A : resources for group study ‑‑ Appendix B : when you worship with us.


Van Dyk, Leanne, ed.  A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2005.

Contents:   The opening of worship : Trinity /  John D. Witvliet‑‑  Confession and assurance : sin and grace /  William A. Dyrness‑‑  Proclamation : revelation, Christology /  Leanne Van Dyk‑‑  Creeds and prayers : ecclesiology /  Ronald P. Byars‑‑  Eucharist : eschatology /  Martha L. Moore‑Keish‑‑  Ending of worship : ethics /  David L. Stubbs.


Howard, Donald W.  Renewal of Worship: Caring For the People: A Resource Guide.  Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005.

Contents:  Introduction: Understanding worship and the role of pastoral care ‑‑ Worship as pastoral care ‑‑ The role of the pastor: preacher, priest, or caregiver? ‑‑The role of the laity: from fear to faith ‑‑ Getting into the field: sower, cultivator, or gleaner? ‑‑ Bringing in the sheaves: meaningful worship for today’s faithful ‑‑ Liturgy: “the work of the people” ‑‑ Introduction to the sacraments: signs and seals of  grace ‑‑ The sacrament of holy baptism and rededication of vows ‑‑ The sacrament of the Lord’s supper ‑‑ An introduction to the special services: hatched, matched, and dispatched ‑‑ Special service: hatched‑‑holy baptism ‑‑ Special service: matched‑‑marriage ‑‑ Special service: dispatched‑‑the funeral and memorial service, committal service, difficult circumstances: suicide and the pastor’s responsibility, children and death ‑‑ Prayer: a most int[i]mate time, yet the most feared and misunderstood ‑‑ Music in the service of worship ‑‑ Special days and seasons: bane or  blessing? The liturgical year ‑‑A final word: pastoral care means meaningful worship.


Dittmer, Terry.  For All the Saints: Involving Youth in Worship.  Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 2005.

Contents:  It’s time to worship ‑‑ How worship is organized ‑‑ The liturgy : the sum of its parts ‑‑ What about music? ‑‑Decorating for worship ‑‑ Other times to worship and praise God ‑‑ Cheers, litanies, and prayers.


Byrd, Rob Robert.  Biblical Worship: Is It What You Think?  Enumclaw, WA: Winepress Publishing, 2005.

Contents:  Acknowledgments‑‑ pt.1. Background: Introduction ‑‑ Words have meaning ‑‑ Continuous improvement ‑‑ pt. 2. Worship versus fellowship: Worship word study ‑‑What does the Bible mean when it says worship? ‑‑Together word study ‑‑ pt.3. Implications of Biblical worship: Priority and purpose of assembly ‑‑ Disadvantages of buildings as places of worship ‑‑ Bureaucracy of the modern church organization ‑‑ pt.4. Implementing Biblical worship: Overcoming disadvanages of buildings ‑‑Keeping the Spirit alive ‑‑ Appendix A, Discussion/application questions ‑‑ Appendix B, Non‑ participant observation of the worship hour ‑‑ Appendix C, Multicontextual nature of the word church ‑‑ Appendix D, Etiology of current building/worship practice ‑‑ Bibliography.


Ritchie, James H.  Always in Rehearsal: The Practice of Worship and the Presence of Children. Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 2005.


Haugen, Marty.  To Serve As Jesus Did: A Ministerial Model for Worship Teams and Leaders. Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2005.


Kroeker, Charlotte Y. Music in Christian Worship: At the Service of the Liturgy.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005.

Contents:  Thinking about church music / Nicholas P. Wolterstorff‑‑ Sounding the symbols of faith : exploring the nonverbal languages of Christian worship / Don E. Saliers‑‑ Musical mystagogy : catechizing through the sacred acts / Michael S. Driscoll ‑‑ An anniversary song : Pope John Paul II’s 2003 chirograph for the centenary of Tra le sollecitudini / Jan Michael Joncas‑‑ Forward steps and side steps in a walk‑through of Christian hymnody / Bert F. Polman‑‑ The sorrow songs : laments from the Old Testament and African American experience / Wilma Ann Bailey ‑‑ The virtue of liturgical discernment / John D. Witvliet‑‑ Reverse missions : global singing for local congregations / C. Michael Hawn ‑‑ The alter‑aesthetic as “work of the people” / Linda J. Clark, Joanne M. Swenson B Religious meanings and musical styles : a matter of taste? / Frank Burch Brown ‑‑ Using music from other cultures in worship / a conversation with Mary K. Oyer‑‑Choosing music for worship / Charlotte Kroeker.


Roussakis, Peter E.  Classic Worship: With Brethren in Mind.  Burlington, IN: Meetinghouse Press, 2005.

Contents:  Making God number one ‑‑ Worshiping the one true God ‑‑ Keeping the Lord’s day ‑‑ Ordering worship ‑‑ Praying in worship ‑‑ Praying the Lord’s prayer ‑‑ Preaching with a manuscript ‑‑ Music in worship ‑‑ Rite of dedication ‑‑ Signing repentance ‑‑ Making a spiritual commitment ‑‑ Rites of Christian baptism and confirmation ‑‑ Church and membership ‑‑ Rite of holy communion ‑‑ Rite of feet‑washing ‑‑ Rite of anointing ‑‑ Spiritual discipline of fasting.


Lathrop, Gordon.  Central Things: Worship in Word and Sacrament.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortess, 2005.

Contents:  What are the essentials of Christian worship?‑‑the fruit and the leaves of the tree of life‑‑The Bible and the central things‑‑Central things : the table and the sending‑‑Central things : the bath and the assembly‑‑Style, ceremony, and purpose in doing the central things‑‑Justine Martyr’s description of the Sunday meeting.


Webber, Robert.  Worship Is A Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation.  2nd ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

Contents:  Winds of Change ‑‑ Principle One: Worship Celebrates Christ ‑‑ Principle Two: Worship Tells and Acts Out the Christ‑Event ‑‑ Principle Three: In Worship God Speaks and Acts ‑‑ Principle Four: Worship Is an Act of Communication ‑‑ Principle Five: In Worship We Respond to God and Each Other ‑‑ Principle Six: Return Worship to the People ‑‑ Principle Seven: All Creation Joins in Worship, Part I ‑‑ Principle Seven: All Creation Joins in Worship, Part II ‑‑ Principle Eight: Worship As a Way of Life.


Rimbo, Robert A.  Why Worship Matters.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortess, 2004.

Contents:  Ends and beginnings‑‑Worship matters because God is worth it‑‑It’s all about mission‑‑Defining worship‑‑Community revived and individuals respected‑‑A form that is formative‑‑Shoulds and shrubs.


Dennis, John Randall.  Living Worship.  Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2004.

Contents:  Living words ‑‑ Worship in suffering : Job ‑‑ Worship in awe : Isaiah ‑‑ Worship in abandon : David ‑‑ Worship in warfare : Jehoshaphat ‑‑ Worship for all nations : Jesus the Christ ‑‑ Worship in the spirit : Pentecost ‑‑ Worship of heaven : John ‑‑ Living worship ‑‑ Simple acts of worship ‑‑ A fresh commission.


Christopherson, D. Foy.  A Place of Encounter Renewing Worship Spaces.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortess, 2004.

Contents:  How are we gonna get this thing to serve?‑‑What is a church?‑‑Encountering God through the ages : A brief history‑‑Places of encounter : Centers of liturgical action‑‑Sacred space : What makes space sacred?‑‑Evangelical space : Worship space makes Christ known‑‑Formational space : Welcome to Christ.


Moore, Rachel L.  Rivers of Praise Worship Through Movement: A Guide for Establishing A Lifestyle of Worship.  Detroit, MI: Dawn Treader Publications, 2004.

Contents:  Spiritual elements ‑‑ The pattern for worship ‑‑ The word of God : our biblical cord for eternal life ‑‑ The chambers of God : the passageway of faith ‑‑ Secret hiding place : prayer as a place of refuge B Relationship with Christ : developing an intimate connection with God ‑‑ Cultivating the heart : attaining the character of Christ ‑‑ Praise unlimited : clothed with spiritual garments ‑‑ Application elements ‑‑ The word on dance : the ministry of dance ‑‑ Ministry mission ‑‑ Technical methods for the ministry of dance ‑‑ Spiritual warfare and winning battles ‑‑ Prophecy and prophetic dance B Teaching your fingers to war : signing and dance ‑‑ Practical elements ‑‑ Organizing a dance team ‑‑ Temple maintenance ‑‑ Choreography ‑‑ Props for praise ‑‑ Priestly garments to fit you for the King ‑‑ Empowering youth to worship God ‑‑ Looking ahead : the ministering arts in evangelism.


Weber, Rob.  ReConnectingworship  [DVD videorecording]: Where Tradition and Innovation Converge.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2004.

Summary  Resources for eight small group study sessions about congregational worship, designed to reach new groups of people, start an alternative worship experience, or launch a new congregation.


Kimball, Dan.  Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings For New Generations.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

Contents:  What is an emerging worship [service] gathering? ‑‑ The paradox of creating alternative worship gatherings ‑‑ Why this is a dangerous book to read ‑‑ Reasons to create a new worship gathering ‑‑ Critical questions to ask before starting a new worship gathering ‑‑ First steps toward starting a new worship gathering ‑‑ Common values in emerging worship gatherings ‑‑ Planning and creating multisensory worship gatherings ‑‑ Approaches churches use to start new worship gatherings ‑‑ Starting a life‑stage outreach gathering ‑‑ Creating life‑stage worship gatherings ‑‑ Creating multi‑congregational worship gatherings ‑‑ Starting a new kind of church ‑‑ Starting house church worship gatherings ‑‑ Alternative worship gatherings in England ‑‑ Is emerging worship simply creating a new generation of Christian consumers?


Deraborn, Tim A., ed.  Worship At The Next Level: Insight From Contemporary Voices.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004.

Contents:  What do we mean by “Christian worship”? / James F. White ‑‑ Worship as adoration and action : reflections on a Christian way of being‑in‑the‑world / MiroslavVolf‑‑ Liturgical assembly as locus of mission / Thomas H. Schattauer‑‑ On starting with people / James F. White ‑‑ The triumph of the praise songs : how guitars beat out the organ in the worship wars / Michael S. Hamilton ‑‑ The crisis of evangelical worship : authentic worship in a changing world / Robert E. Webber ‑‑ A new reformation : re‑creating worship for a postmodern world / Leonard Sweet ‑‑ Moshing for Jesus : adolescence as a cultural context for worship / Kenda Creasy Dean ‑‑ Amplified versions : worship wars come down to music and a power plug / Andy Crouch ‑‑ A humbling experience : contemporary worship’s simple aesthetic / Andy Crouch ‑‑ New approaches to worship / Mike Riddell, Mark Pierson, Cathy Kirkpatrick ‑‑ Missing God at church? / Gary M. Burge ‑‑ Art for faith’s sake / Clayton J. Schmit‑‑ Beyond style : rethinking the role of music in worship / John D. Witvliet‑‑ A matter of taste? / Frank Burch Brown.


Schultze, Quentin J.  High‑Tech Worship?: Using Presentational Technologies Wisely.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004.

Contents:  Our confusion ‑‑ Understanding worship ‑‑ Corporate worship and technology

‑‑ Avoiding quick‑fix techniques ‑‑ Fitting technology into worship ‑‑Echnological stewardship ‑‑ Virtuous authority ‑‑ Moving forward wisely ‑‑Appendix : a snapshot of technology in



Vann, Jane Rogers.  Gathered Before God: Worship‑Centered Church Renewal.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

Contents:  Foundations for congregational renewal. Worship at the center of congregational life ; Experiential learning in congregational life ‑‑ Congregational practices. How congregations worship ; Prayer and spiritual disciplines ; Study and instruction ; Ministry and mission ; Leadership in worship‑centered congregational life.


Baker, Jonny.  Alternative Worship: Resources From and For the Emerging Church.  Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004.

Contents:  Pt 1. Advent and Christmas. Ritual ‑‑ Not by prose alone ‑‑Pt 2. Lent. Images ‑‑ Liturgy ‑‑ Music ‑‑Pt 3. Easter. Renewing culture ‑‑ Faithful improvisation ‑‑Pt 4. Pentecost. Incarnation and popular culture ‑‑Reframing tradition ‑‑ 100 routes to resourcing your worship.


Beach, Nancy.  An Hour On Sunday: Creating Moments of Transformation and Wonder.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

Contents:  The wonder of Sundays ‑‑ Intentionality. Part 1 ‑‑ Intentionality. Part 2 ‑‑ Leadership ‑‑ Community ‑‑ Evaluation ‑‑ Well‑ordered hearts and lives ‑‑ Excellence ‑‑ Creativity ‑‑ Authenticity ‑‑ Transcendent moments‑‑ Transformational teaching ‑‑ The rewards of Sundays.


Flannagan, Andy.  Distinctive Worship: How A New Generation Connects with God.  Milton Keynes: Spring Harvest/Authentic Media, 2004.


Zimmerman, Martha.  Celebrating Biblical Feasts in Your Home Or Church.  Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2004.

Contents:  1. Sabbath : a weekend celebration for the family ‑‑ 2. Passover : in order that you should remember ‑‑ 3. The Omer : an “in between” time ‑‑ 4. Shavuoth : fifty days counted, now celebrate! ‑‑ 5. Rosh Hashanah : a day of blowing ‑‑ 6. Yom Kippur : a day of returning ‑‑ 7. Sukkoth : a family fort festival.


Basden, Paul. Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 views.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

Contents:  Formal‑liturgical worship / Paul F.M. Zahl‑‑ Traditional hymn‑based worship / Harold M. Best ‑‑ Contemporary music‑driven worship / Joe Horness‑‑ Charismatic worship / Don Williams ‑‑ Blended worship / Robert Webber ‑‑ Emerging worship / Sally Morganthaler.


The worship sourcebook.  Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources; Baker Book House, 2004.

Contents:  The practice of Christian worship ‑‑ The worship sourcebook : a contemporary experiment based on classical models ‑‑ Using the worship sourcebook ‑‑ Elements of the worship service ‑‑ Opening of worship ‑‑ Confession and assurance ‑‑ Proclaiming the word ‑‑ Prayers of the people ‑‑ Offering ‑‑ Baptism ‑‑ Profession of faith and remembrance of baptism ‑‑ The Lord’s supper ‑‑ Closing of worship ‑‑ Central themes of the Christian faith ‑‑ Creation ‑‑ Providence ‑‑ Thanksgiving ‑‑ Advent ‑‑ Christmas ‑‑ Epiphany ‑‑ Baptism of our Lord ‑‑ Transfiguration ‑‑ Ash Wednesday ‑‑ Lent ‑‑ Passion/Palm Sunday ‑‑ Maundy Thursday ‑‑ Good Friday ‑‑ Easter ‑‑ Ascension of our Lord ‑‑ Christ the king ‑‑ Pentecost ‑‑ Trinity Sunday ‑‑ Unity of the church ‑‑ Communion of the saints ‑‑ Appendix : Worship evaluation forms.


Miller, Kim.  Designing Worship: Creating and Integrating Powerful God Experiences. Loveland, CO: Group, 2004.

Contents:  Assembling a worship design team ‑‑ Finding great team players ‑‑ The vital role of the pastor‑speaker ‑‑ Small churches empowering teams that soar ‑‑ Anatomy of a design team meeting B Developing the weekend worship experience ‑‑ The teams surrounding the team : working in community ‑‑ Overcoming obstacles in worship design ‑‑ Four mantras for the mission ‑‑ Styling the stage ‑‑ Focusing on the inside story ‑‑ Playing to the heart of our colorful God ‑‑ Writing for worship connection ‑‑ Powerful prayers for everyday people ‑‑ A mission‑driven messenger ‑‑ Send out : a ministry of mud ‘n’ spit.


Witvliet, John D.  Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows Into Christian Practice.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.

Contents: Biblical studies. The Former Prophets and the practice of Christian worship ; Praise and lament in the Psalms and in liturgical prayer ‑‑ Theological studies. Covenant theology in ecumenical discussions of the Lord’s Supper ; Theological models for the relationship between liturgy and culture ‑‑  Historical studies. Images and themes in John Calvin’s theology of liturgy ; Baptism as a sacrament of reconciliation in the thought of John Calvin ; The Americanization of Reformed worship ; Theological issues in the frontier worship tradition in nineteenth‑century America ‑‑ Musical studies. The spirituality of the Psalter in Calvin’s Geneva ; Soul food for the people of God ; The blessing and bane of the North American evangelical megachurch‑‑ Pastoral studies. Making good choices in an era of liturgical change ; Planning and leading worship as a pastoral task ; Celebrating the Christian Passover in Easter worship ; How common worship forms us for our encounter with death.


Leading worship [DVD videorecording].  [Stafford, TX] : Vineyard Music, 2003.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑ Understanding worship ‑‑ The worship leader role ‑‑ The worship set ‑‑ Choosing songs ‑‑ Theme‑based sets ‑‑ Establishing flow ‑‑ Incorporating hymns ‑‑ Rehearsing the band ‑‑ Your musical role ‑‑ Leading the set ‑‑ Follow up ‑‑ The learning process.


Schuler, Michael W.  Breakthrough Worship: Experiencing the Joy of Heaven.  Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 2003.


Marini, Stephen A.  Sacred Song in America: Religion, Music, and Public Culture.  Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003.

Contents:  Part 1: Great traditions of American sacred song ‑‑Songway: sacred‑song traditions of native America ‑‑ Pilgrimage and penitence: sacred‑song traditions of the Hispanic southwest ‑‑ Sacred harp singing: continuity and change in the American singing‑school tradition ‑‑ “Is it going to save someone?”: the black church at song ‑‑Klezmorim and Sephardim: the Jewish music revival ‑‑ Part 2: Sacred song and contemporary American religion ‑‑ New music of the spheres: from the new age to Neo‑Paganism ‑‑ Contested praise: a tale of two hymnals ‑‑ Mormons and music: maintaining and mainstreaming sectarian identity ‑‑ Troubadour for the Lord: catholic charismatics and sacred song ‑‑ The conservatory tradition: interviews with Daniel Pinkham and Neely Bruce ‑‑ Gospel music: sacred song and the marketplace ‑‑ Conclusion: American sacred song and the meaning of religious culture.


Campbell, Melvin.  Readers Theatre for Christian Worship: Biblical Stories of Courage and Faith. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2003.


Kraeuter, Tom.  Guiding Your Church Through a Worship Transition: A Practical Handbook for Worship Renewal.  Lynnwood, WA: Emerald Books, 2003.

Contents:  Don’t Put New Paint on Rotting Wood, The Cornerstone of Relationship with God ‑‑ Why Don’t Your Pants Have Holes in the Knees? Prayer, the Foundation ‑‑ Defacing the Temple, A Better Way: Love ‑‑ Are You Sure You Want to Do This? Why Even Make a Change? ‑‑ Putting an End to the Bless‑Me Club, Casting the Vision and Setting Goals ‑‑ United We Stand, Leadership Must Stand Together through Worship Transition ‑‑ Shouting and Clapping and Dancing, Oh My! Teaching a Biblical Perspective of Worship ‑‑ The LORD; He Is God! Teaching a Right Perception of God ‑‑ Snakes under the Bed, Moving Forward through Understanding and Example ‑‑ Slowly SlowlySlowly, Don’t Try to Move Forward Too Quickly ‑‑ Jesus Didn’t Die for Music, Progress vs. the Process ‑‑ Time Warps and Aborigines, What Is the Right Kind of Music, Anyway? ‑‑ Steel Drums and Pipe Organs, Which Instruments Are Acceptable? ‑‑ Dropkick Me, Jesus, Over the Goal Posts of Life, Looking Seriously at the Words of Songs ‑‑ Museum or Coffee Shop? Considering Architecture, Atmosphere, and Technology ‑‑ The Stupid Plastic Ring, To Add a Service or Change an Existing One? ‑‑ Entertainment Anyone? Being Real ‑‑ Moving the Freight Train, Viewing the Corporate Worship Time as a Journey ‑‑ Winnie the Pooh on Times of Corporate Worship, Finding the Balance between Planning and Spontaneity ‑‑ People and Stuff, Arrangements on the Platform ‑‑ Donor Organs, The Lighter Side of Worship Transition ‑‑ Conclusion ‑‑ Appendix A: A Praise and Worship Survey for the Congregational Members ‑‑ Appendix B: Arguments against Today’s Worship Music Compared with Scripture.


Songwriting for worship [DVD videorecording].  [Stafford, TX] : Vineyard Music, 2003.

Contents:  Introduction ‑‑ Historically speaking ‑‑ Songs for today’s church ‑‑ It’s in me to write ‑‑ Our inspiration ‑‑ Developing the song ‑‑ Anatomy of a song ‑‑ Writing lasting lyrics ‑‑ The song vision ‑‑ Memorable  melodies ‑‑ Rewriting the first draft ‑‑ The co‑writing experience ‑‑ The finished song.


Campbell, Melvin.  Interactive Readings for Christian Worship.  Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2003.


Leading worship: Creating Flow.[DVD videorecording] Lindale, TX:; Distributed in the U.S. by Integrity Media, 2003.

Summary  Offers instruction on making worship times flow better, discussing and demonstrating how to identify and eliminate distractions, utilize the flow factors of “themes, keys, and tempos,” develop a seamless setlist, change keys and transition smoothly, and cultivate a heart of worship in the team. Includes footage from live worship sessions.


Anderson, E. Byron.  Worship and Christian Identity: Practicing Ourselves.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003.


Hayford, Jack W.  Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2003.


Siewert, Alison.  Drama Team Handbook.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Contents:  Theatrical God ‑‑ Waking up ‑‑ Sidebar : how we got here ‑‑ Drama and worship ‑‑ Drama and musical worship in conversation ‑‑ Sidebar : drama as part of a larger event ‑‑ Transitions ‑‑ Creative information ‑‑ Drama and evangelism ‑‑ Drama across cultures ‑‑ Sidebar : expressing ethnic identity in drama ‑‑ Building a performance team from the ground up ‑‑ Sidebar : workshops : non‑audition auditions ‑‑ Where to find scripts ‑‑ Sketching life ‑‑ Building a writing team ‑‑ Telling the whole story ‑‑ Context isn’t everything, but it sure is a lot ‑‑ Writing dialogue ‑‑ Writing funny B Writing monologues ‑‑ Creating collages ‑‑ Bringing the Word to life ‑‑ Sidebar : scripture for screenagers‑‑ Scripting scripture ‑‑ About acting ‑‑ Sidebar : Jesus looks mahvelous‑‑ Is it okay for Christians to act? ‑‑ Sidebar : working with words ‑‑ Character and caricature ‑‑ Sidebar : building a character ‑‑ Sidebar: the cost of excellence ‑‑ Using your voice ‑‑ Sidebar : how the voice works ‑‑ Sidebar : inflect correct ‑‑ Sidebar : stumbling into truth ‑‑ The unself‑conscious artist ‑‑ Actors’ exercises ‑‑ Freeing up your body ‑‑ Remaining calm ‑‑ The servant director ‑‑ The director prepares ‑‑ The audience ‑‑ Directing rehearsals ‑‑ Sidebar : the director in the sketch ‑‑ Working with actors ‑‑ Blocking ‑‑ Chart : stage areas ‑‑ Rehearsing when you don’t really have time to rehearse B Props and sets ‑‑ Evaluating performances.


Dyer, Scott, comp.  The Source For Effective Church Service Planning: Unleashing the Power of the Creative Arts in Your Church.  Rev. & updated.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; Willow Creek Resources, 2003.


Redman, Matt. The Heart of Worship Files.  Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003.

Contents:  Introduction / Matt Redman ‑‑ Revelation and response / Matt Redman ‑‑ Reflections on Psalm 8 (pt. 1) : little leaders / Louie Giglio‑‑ We become like what we worship / Don Williams ‑‑ Thoughts on songwriting (pt 1) : making melody / Matt Redman…[] ‑‑ Delightful or dreadful? / Steve Nicholson ‑‑ Refreshing hymns / Matt Redman ‑‑ Understanding worship (pt. 1) : reasons for worship / Chris Jack ‑‑ Where are God’s celebrity chefs? / David Salmon ‑‑ Reflections on Psalm 8 (pt. 2) : a life of consideration / Louie Giglio‑‑ The cross : exploring all angles / Don Williams ‑‑ The real worship leader / Matt Redman ‑‑ Skill and sensitivity / Les Moir‑‑ Understanding worship (pt. 2) : the nature of worship in the Bible / Chris Jack ‑‑ Thoughts on songwriting ( Pt. 2) : crafting lyrics / Andy Park…[et al.] ‑‑ Cell, congregation, celebration : worship leading in three contexts / Matt Redman ‑‑ Praise the Lord! : a commentary on Psalm 150 / Don Williams ‑‑ What a band wants from their worship leader / Matt Weeks ‑‑ Worship and justice / an interview with Mike Pilavachi‑‑ Understanding worship (pt. 3) : forms of worship in the Old Testament / Chris Jack ‑‑ What a worship leader looks for in a band / Tim Hughes ‑‑ Worship with all you have! : reflections on Psalm 100 / Don Williams ‑‑ Context versus engagement / Matt Redman ‑‑ Understanding worship (pt. 4) : the heart of worship in the Old Testament / Chris Jack ‑‑ Cultivating a quiet heart / Matt Redman ‑‑ Renewing the intimate friendship / Matt Redman ‑‑ Imagine the view from here : the vision of a lead worshipper / John David Walt, Jr.


Giglio, Louie.  The Air I Breathe: Worship As A Way of Life.  Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2003.

Contents:  That Thing We Do ‑‑ Something More ‑‑ Why Worship Matters ‑‑ What God Wants Most for You ‑‑ Joining the Ranks of True Worshipers ‑‑ For Who He Is, for What He Does ‑‑ Worship as a Way of Life ‑‑ Through Jesus, All the Time ‑‑ Lips and Lives ‑‑ A Personal Path to Worship ‑‑ Moving Beyond Me, to Us ‑‑ My Thanks ‑‑ Questions for Group Discussion ‑‑ Quotation Sources.


Fields, Doug.  Surrendering Your Life To Honor God: 6 Small Group Sessions on Worship.  El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties, 2003.

Summary:  Presents lessons to be used by small groups to explore ways of worshiping God through prayer, fellowship, and ministry, as well as throughout one’s daily life.


Chapman, Kathleen.  Teaching Kids Authentic Worship: How To Keep Them Close to God for Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003.

Contents:  In search of the glue ‑‑ Part 1: what ‑‑ Worship : the definition ‑‑ Hero worship : the example ‑‑ God who? ‑‑ Part 2: how ‑‑ Learn the language ‑‑The art of focus ‑‑ Familiarity ‑‑ A plan for worship ‑‑ Part 3: why ‑‑ The benefits of worship ‑‑ 52 worship moments.


Playing Together As A Worship Band [videorecording].  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

Summary:  Training for worship ministers dealing with principles and techniques that help worship teams, sound techicians, vocalists learn the essentials and build cohesiveness.


Kavanaugh, Patrick.  Raising Children To Adore God: Instilling A Lifelong Passion for Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2003.

Contents:  What is worship ‑‑ Modelling a lifestyle of worship before our children ‑‑ Knowing your children ‑‑ Your child’s environment : home and church ‑‑ Family devotionals ‑‑ Your child’s friends ‑‑ Home‑life principles that encourage worship ‑‑ Your church’s youth ministry ‑‑ Corporate worship and children ‑‑ The different stages of children’s worship.


White, Susan J.  A History of Women in Christian Worship.  Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2003.


Kirk‑Duggan, Cheryl A.  Soul Pearls: Worship Resources for African American Congregations. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2003.


Best, Harold M.  Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Contents:  Pt. 1. Unceasing worship as continuous outpouring. Nobody does not worship ; What is authentic worship? ; Mutual indwelling : the final geography of worship ; The corporate gathering and authentic worship ; Worship and witness : the indivisible task of continuous outpouring ; Worship, praying and preaching ‑‑ Pt. 2. Unceasing worship and the arts. Continuous outpouring and artistic action ; What creative people can learn from God’s creation ; The peculiarity of music and its unique role ; The arts in contrast : allowing art to be art ; “You shall not worship me this way” : worship, art and incipient idolatry ; The cultural expanse, pt. 1 : realities and unities ; The cultural expanse, pt. 2 : issues ; What of quality?


Ryken, Philip Graham, ed.  Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice.  Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 2003.

Contents:  James Montgomery Boice and the Hugunot Fellowship / William Edgar ‑‑ Does God care how we worship? / J. Ligon Duncan III ‑‑ Foundations for Biblically directed worship / .Ligon Duncan III ‑‑ The regulative principle : responding to recent criticism / Derek W. H. Thomas ‑‑ Corporate worship : a means of grace / Edmund P. Clowney‑‑ Expository preaching : center of Christian worship / R. Albert Mohler Jr. ‑‑ Evangelistic expository preaching / Mark E. Dever‑‑ Reading and praying the Bible in corporate worship / Terry L. Johnson and J. Ligon Duncan III ‑‑ Baptism : joyful sign of the Gospel / D. Marion Clark ‑‑ The Lord’s Supper : an overview / Richard D. Phillips ‑‑ Hymnody in a post‑hymnody world / Paul S. Jones ‑‑ Restoring Psalm singing to our worship / Terry L. Johnson ‑‑ Private worship / Donald S. Whitney ‑‑ A call to family worship / J. Ligon Duncan III and Terry L. Johnson ‑‑ Worship in all of life / William Edgar ‑‑ Worship and the emotions / W. Robert Godfrey ‑‑ Worship through the ages / Nick R. Needham ‑‑ Calvin’s theology of worship / Hughes Oliphant Old ‑‑ Challenges and opportunities for ministry today / Michael S. Horton.


York, Terry W.  America’s Worship Wars.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003.

Contents:  The 1960’s : a time of change ‑‑ Two denominational boundaries breaking down ‑‑ Three para church youth movement ‑‑ The politicization of worship ‑‑ Christian popular music ‑‑ “The fastest growing churches” and similar reports ‑‑ Television church ‑‑Thelanguage of worship ‑‑ Champions of peace ‑‑ How do we train worship leaders? ‑‑ Cold war or new order? ‑‑ Epilogue: Worship from the margin.


Dawn, Marva J.  How Shall We Worship?: Biblical Guidelines for the Worship Wars.  Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.

Contents:  What kinds of music should we use? ‑‑Who is being worshiped? ‑‑How do we worship God? ‑‑What will be the result of genuine worship? ‑‑What idols tempt us away from worshiping the only true God? ‑‑What does God’s creation have to say about worship? ‑‑ Do we have a big enough God? ‑‑How has the church developed its ascribing? ‑‑How will true worship change our character? B How does the Lord’s sovereignty affect our worship and evangelism? ‑‑How does the creation teach us to praise? ‑‑How does worship form us by the future to live in the present?




May 5 2013

Worship Ministry Mulligans


mulliganIt doesn’t matter if you are a worship-leading novice or aging veteran; you have inevitably looked back at certain services, special events, entire seasons of ministry or various relationships with a deep longing for a second chance to do or handle things differently.

The reality is that it would be impossible for us to go back and make corrections to most of those situations.  We do, however, have the opportunity for another chance to get it right when we face similar circumstances in the future.  One way to learn from the past in order to influence the future is to recall those events and write down how we might handle them differently if we had a mulligan.

You may resonate with some of my examples but I also encourage you to create your own list…it’s pretty therapeutic.

If I had a Worship Ministry Mulligan…

  • I’d make more mistakes because I took more risks.
  • I’d learn more people’s names than new songs.
  • I’d learn the musical language of chord charts, capos, and cajons sooner.
  • I’d take a Sabbath every week.
  • I’d make more deposits in younger leaders and withdrawals from older leaders.
  • I’d pray for and defend my pastor even when he didn’t deserve it.
  • I’d surround myself with those who stretched my thinking and held me accountable.
  • I’d leave more things at the office when I came home in the evening.
  • I’d read more, study more, learn more and ask more questions.
  • I’d ask how it might impact my family before asking how it might impact my ministry.
  • I’d learn more theology than musicology.
  • I’d learn how to do a variety of things in addition to worship leading.
  • I’d take more time and get more buy-in before initiating change.
  • I’d spend more time thanking those who invested in my life and ministry.
  • I’d have more patience with needy people or chronic takers.
  • I’d develop more hobbies outside of the church.
  • I’d welcome more divine interruptions in my planned schedule.
  • I’d write more things down.
  • I’d thank those who protected me from my own stupidity.
  • I’d evaluate my year based on in-betweens not big events.
  • I’d teach people how to worship when they leave not just when they arrive.
  • I’d stay with things longer instead of bailing when things got difficult.
  • I’d celebrate the Lord’s Supper/Communion/Eucharist more often.
  • I’d focus on music less and worship more.
  • I’d schedule large blocks of time to think creatively.
  • I’d drink more coffee with senior adults.
  • I’d lighten up, play more and not take myself so seriously.
  • I’d figure out how to get grandparents and grandchildren to worship together.
  • I’d have more “can you imagine” conversations than “do you remember” ones.
  • I’d spend more time learning how to be a better leader than a better musician.
  • I’d have more ministry friends outside my faith culture or denomination.
  • I’d realize that it is never too late to begin doing any of these things.



Mar 24 2013

Loss Leader Easter Sunday


loss leaderIn retail, a loss leader is the practice of offering goods or services discounted at or below cost in order to draw consumers in.  The strategy is that drawing them in will hopefully lead them to buy additional items at a higher price.

Churches are formulating final plans for meaningful Easter worship services at the end of this week knowing they will potentially impact more attendees than on any other Sunday of the year.  In an effort to entice more participation some of those congregations are planning gimmicks or hooks to get consumers in for one of the most meaningful days of the church year.

When those consumers realize that worship actually requires offering their bodies as a living sacrifice, what methods then will those same congregations need to employ to entice those consumers to count the cost (Rom 12:1)?  How will those congregations help them express deep calling unto deep worship…when discounted loss leader worship is all that they are offering (Ps 42:7)?  In this context, you get what you pay for actually means…whatever you reach people with is what you will reach them to.

King David responded to God’s command to build an altar to the Lord so that the plague on the people of Israel might be stopped (2 Sam 24:21).  At no cost to David, Araunah offered his threshing floor, his oxen, and even the wood from the oxen yokes for the burnt offering.  King David replied, “No, I insist on paying for it.  I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Sam 24:24).

Terry York and David Bolin wrote, “We have forgotten that what worship costs is more important than how worship comforts us or how it serves our agendas.  We should not lift up to God worship or any other offering that costs us nothing.  If worship costs us nothing but is fashioned to comfort our needs and preferences, it may not be worship at all.”[1]


[1] Terry W. York and C. David Bolin, The Voice of Our Congregation: Seeking and Celebrating God’s Song for Us (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005), 112.


Oct 14 2012

What Does Worship Renewal Look Like?


new growthWorship renewal will begin when congregations move toward a deeper awareness of the biblical precedents, historical practices, and theological tenets foundational to worship understanding. Much of the conflict that occurs as congregations consider worship renewal is the result of too much focus on the style of our worship instead of the content of our worship.

If worship leaders agree that these foundational elements are necessary why do they continue to depend on song selection and stylistic change alone to negotiate the worship impasse?  The need for worship renewal must be determined first by considering worship principles before then trying new worship practices.

The Worship Renewal Grants Program of The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship fosters well-grounded worship renewal in congregations and worshiping communities throughout North America.  This grant program provides funding assistance to those organizations developing projects that encourage worship renewal.

Betty Grit, Worship Renewal Grants Program Manager posted an article in November, 2010 titled “Worship Renewal: What We Have Learned.”  Betty has given permission for me to repost her article below.

The article is based on responses from congregations that developed projects for worship renewal funded through the Worship Renewal Grants Program.  It is interesting to note that some basic principles of worship renewal were common to all projects in this broadly ecumenical, multicultural, and multigenerational search for worship renewal.  The bulleted items in the article are taken directly from the Worship Renewal Grants Year-End Reports.

The findings recorded in this article by Betty Grit can offer great insight as your congregation considers what worship renewal might look like.  The information provided is extensive but rich in foundational worship principles.  It is lengthy but will be well worth your time to read and digest.

The language, comments, and responses may not all be consistent with the doctrines and practices of your faith community.  You are encouraged, however, to view the foundational principles in light of your culture, giving consideration to their value for your congregation and the entire ecumenical faith community.

For more information about the Worship Renewal Grants Program follow this link: or email Betty Grit – Worship Renewal Grants Program Manager:



PROVERB 1: Worship renewal cannot be produced or engineered by human ingenuity but is a gift of God’s Spirit.   Renewal is a gift for which we pray, rather than an accomplishment we achieve.

  • Worship renewal is achieved only through the Holy Spirit-the divine favor from above.  The common theme was the need to pray diligently, be patient and expect the unexpected.
  • We learned that the most important element of worship and worship renewal is the exponential element that the Holy Spirit brings; His work supersedes any human effort.
  • Comment from a pastor: “God is shaping us at this Church in His own way and on His own schedule.   Any renewal that happens here is not based on human genius.  The Holy Spirit is at work.”
  • Everyone comes to the table with a wealth of ideas and opinions and while that makes coming to a consensus difficult, we felt the Holy Spirit was there in the process.
  • We have learned that God is faithful and that we can be led by Him to places and opportunities beyond our own imagination.
  • Any new approaches to scripture presentations in worship includes risk and requires a certain amount of courage to step out in faith.   We are constantly needing to be reminded to prayerfully discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in all of our actions related to worship.
  • Communication among worship leaders has gone from adequate to excellent.  As a worship committee, we have learned to prayerfully explore new ideas and to carefully review the more traditional worship methods. The congregation has been very cooperative in the process.

PROVERB 2: Worship renewal mines the riches of scripture and leads worshipers to deeper encounters with Christ and the gospel message.

  • Participants have spoken of a greater spirituality and growth of personal faith life and the connection between and need for both personal prayer and communal worship.
  • Congregants are more knowledgeable, more involved, more connected with each other.  Many members who were faithful but not as active are now more actively engaged.  Members, especially the children are praying some powerful prayers.  There are visible evidences of spiritual growth.
  • Group members sense a heightened energy in worship and an appreciation of the ways we have incorporated some of what we have learned into the services.  We have involved more laity in discussions of worship.  People are reporting a deepening prayer time in worship as well as more attention to the Word.
  • I am very certain that this process has little to do with the money, and so much more about commitment, connections and conversation with God and each other!
  • As we grow closer to God, we grow closer to each other.  And close community leads us back to God.  It is a circle of intimacy that lies at the heart of corporate worship.
  • Confession and Assurance of Pardon are not optional areas of worship – they are necessary.  Confession and receiving forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ is a regular part of following Christ.  Confession is not driven by guilt as much as a desire to experience God’s grace and freedom.
  • We learned that common ground in worship is much more abundant and available than our differences.  As we examined each element in our order of worship we were able to share our understanding of the meaning and purpose of each element and relate our experiences with each element.  We learned that renewal happens when people begin to have serious discussions about the nature and purpose of worship.  This process began with the discussions about applying for the grant and continues even today as we have completed the project and are moving on.
  • The grant helped us to understand a fuller meaning of the word “worship.”  We now look at worship as something that goes from an inward state to an outward state. We also now understand that there are many variations in how a congregation can express worship. Our discussion left us feeling that we have more work to do in educating our people and ourselves.

PROVERB 3: Worship renewal arises from, and leads to, the full, conscious and active participation of all worshipers – young and old, the powerless and powerful, newcomers and lifelong worshipers.

  • Worship is more spontaneous and provides more avenues for participation by the congregation than before.  We have made changes and added variety.  It has made worship more authentic.  Format changes and other intangibles have occurred.  One partnering congregation is a recent creation in our community.  Three congregations merged just a few years ago and moved into a newly built structure.  Changes that were a result of this project helped the congregation make a significant move from being “three combined churches” to becoming ONE church.
  • We created opportunities to experience a “full, conscious participation” in worship.  Those words now mean something to the group and to individuals in the group.  Worship has a new feeling to it.  Experiencing it in many ways is new and brings a new level of understanding.  Worship is not a spectator sport!  We need to find ways to gradually bring the worshippers into even more involvement.
  • It has convinced us that we don’t have to change our style, because style is not the issue. We can and must focus on passion and participation.  Our other findings have convinced us that our worship must take place in the midst of a church culture that is filled with a sense of belonging.
  • Our children who participated in the project are excited to be involved in worship planning and practice. This eagerness is matched by helpful and guiding leadership as these young people grow in grace and confidence. The participatory nature of worship has been elevated: getting more people involved as actors, both in pulpit and pew, and not simply spectators. Worship can be creative, not limited to the segmented approach that seeks to appeal to the various generational tastes.
  • Overall, our discussions have shifted from a survey or our “preferences” in worship to a focus on the presence of God in worship and worship as our response to God’s gift to us.  Though worshippers might not be able to name it, they are describing an increased impact of the service in their lives.
  • Our project discovered that worship is experiential, and needs to be the very basic elements of Christianity when shared with children with special needs.  We learned that training the congregation to be more welcoming of special needs children and their families takes time and a longer time frame than we anticipated.
  • Our grant has given both the participants and directors the incentive to be more proactive in thinking about worship practices. We also have become more intentional about finding ways to continue nurturing family worship at home during the week.
  • We enter worship shaped in part by our culture.  Transforming worship challenges the culture’s pattern we bring with us and presents the Divine patterns against which we should live our lives.
  • How do we move people of faith from being spectators to participating in worship?
  • An unplanned yet delightful surprise was that children are by far some of the best teachers of how to worship.  We discovered that the best pathway to teach adults about the dialogical nature of worship on a congregation-wide level was through the children.  Through messages, songs and postures tailored to their age and formation level, the children proved to be the best practitioners of dialogical worship in a multi-sensory/multi- experiential way.
  • Persons of all ages want to share their faith with others and need to do so to grow in their own faith.
  • Listening to persons with disabilities share their stories is a great source of instruction; disabilities and mental illnesses impact the entire family and congregational “system”; inclusion is not our project but God’s gift through Christ.
  • Our Generations Banner and Family Poster projects have enabled children, youth and adults to work cooperatively to improve the visual impact of our corporate worship and has resulted in meaningful conversations between generations and the sharing of talents and expertise of which we were previously unaware.
  • Children and youth are often leaders in worship renewal, both in their own homes and in the church.  We should never underestimate the spiritual awareness and understanding of children.
  • Intergenerational worship is counter-cultural.  When children are regularly separated from adults and families separated from singles or adults, forming a community that values the contributions of all its members requires constant explanation and vigilance.  Intergenerational worship requires planning and persistence.  We seek to build a community, which enhances the spiritual growth of all its members by including all.
  • We kept the children’s participation very diverse so the adults would get to see far ranging ways in which the children could be involved in congregational worship and so the children’s participation would not be put into a ‘liturgical’ box.
  • Young adults stay connected to a community in which they feel involved.
  • Worship renewal occurs at every age and stage of life.
  • Different cultures face different challenges in worship renewal.
  • We learned that focusing energy to foster the participation of those who are more on the edges of our assembly requires ongoing challenges.  We learned that including different elements in worship (the artistic talents of children or the cultural gifts of Hispanic members) is a celebration of God’s gifts among us that leads us to long for more.
  • We learned that a family’s home worship practices help prepare both children and parents to become more active worshipers during corporate worship.  We learned that lasting renewal comes as a result of study over time; being patient in prayer, open to ideas, changing one heart at a time.  Collaboration and communication are vital.

PROVERB 4: Relationships (Christian fellowship, trust, forgiveness and grace) are essential for worshiping together.

  • We have come to understand that there are indeed a variety of gifts but the same Spirit.  Before the grant process we would speak of two separate cultures of worship.  We have developed a new culture with shared core values and this culture and these core values we have found to be in tune with our tradition.  We worship now as a true expression of who we are as a multi-cultural, bilingual community of believers.  We have found our common ground by spending time together to talk and share our experiences.
  • Working as a group in a worship project can build bonds that withstand the mundane frictions that inevitably occur in an organization.  After the Advent season, one member said that the congregation felt more energized than it had for a long time.  As a worship committee, we are continually aware of the need to focus our worship planning, remembering what we learned from the various opportunities provided as a result of the grant.  We find ourselves energized and hopeful as we seek to enhance the worship life of our community.
  • Because we care about each other, we do not allow our different assumptions and opinions to form rifts and barriers.  On the contrary, those differences have helped us broaden and deepen our understandings of the nature of worship.  Worship renewal may require programs and meetings but its basis is in a relationship of care and trust.
  • We have learned that technology is a tool for communicating, but nothing replaces relationships in effectiveness at communicating the Good News.
  • Team work is essential – and takes intentional work (& work & work & work…)
  • We have experienced worship renewal to be a dynamic, engaging and mysterious process.  We have gained a more comprehensive understanding of worship, of styles/modes/languages of worship and of the power of increased planning and training on the flow and impact of the worship service.  We have learned that worship renewal needs concentrated time and effort and that it is on going.  We have also become more aware that the planning of worship in this large church can be challenging and needs deeper involvement by laity.
  • We discovered the importance of the linkage between the activity of worship and the sense of community throughout the church.  Worship style isn’t nearly as important as a widespread sense of belonging.  Participation in worship is a key to passion for God in worship.  Mere onlookers are more likely to be distracted by style.  We learned how difficult worship renewal can be.  Congregational buy-in is essential if renewal is to work.  Otherwise, you’ll simply have revolution and reaction.

PROVERB 5: Worship involves all the senses.

  • We have learned that worship can involve all the senses including handling clay, the movement of dance, observing a story in stained glass, and singing an ancient hymn.
  • To lead a reading in worship involves more than to make audible what is printed.  Whether we’re intentional about it or not, we supply an interpretation to that reading.
  • Besides simply allowing individuals to just see or experience different forms of artistic expression within worship, it has opened doors to new conversations among members about worship itself.  These conversations were not very prevalent prior to this grant project.
  • People are more comfortable with new visual elements when the theological reasoning is presented to them.
  • Our liturgies tend to be so full of words that we sometimes neglect other, non-verbal or non-rational aspects of our humanity.
  • Physical actions are a powerful gateway for spiritual growth and renewal.  God uses our senses to communicate His loving presence to us as we share bread and wine.
  • Sometimes it’s not easy to talk about worship because it’s difficult to put our thoughts about God into words.  Pictures, symbols, or movement often convey what words cannot.
  • Artwork that is integrated into the goals and meaning of worship amplifies the emotion of the experience, making it more vital, more personal.  It can help direct our focus and help us pray.
  • The place in which we worship influences how we worship and what our worship experience is like.
  • No matter the type, style or source of congregational song, there must be strong leadership.  In every congregation and community God gives people the capacity for musical expression in worship.  The gathering and use of these gifts may require creative choices and reframed expectations.
  • Our view of worship has certainly been expanded and enriched throughout this grant process.  Through working with leaders from various church denominations we have learned to embrace the variety of worship expressions (dance styles, music, costumes, etc.) that flow from the Body of Christ.

PROVERB 6: Learning about worship is essential for renewal

  • Conscious, active and fruitful participation only happens when meaningful education about worship has first taken place.
  • We have learned how much we as a congregation did not know about the history, theology and practice of Christian worship through the centuries and in various settings.  “We’ve always done it this way” may not be a statement of resistance to change as much as an admission of our limited knowledge and experience.
  • Worship renewal cannot come arbitrarily – for the sake of change alone, or even for the sake of keeping worshipers interested.  It must come as a result of a congregations’ understanding between the connection of its worship practices and the way in which that body lives out God’s purposes for this world.
  • Whether teaching children, seekers, new or mature Christians, clearly explaining in a life-giving way why we are doing what we are doing -whether it be praying a lament, lifting our hands, giving our offering, bowing in repentance or receiving a blessing – has a direct affect on people’s increased passion for and awareness of worship.  Simply going through the motions of worship – stand-up, sit-down, sing now, not talking – without letting people know why they are engaged in these practices rob worshipers of a deep and meaningful experience of God.
  • We have asked ourselves, “How can we foster more vibrant, intergenerational and participatory worship while still maintaining a high standard of theological integrity?”  We have a genuine need to educate our congregation in the richness, beauty and intentionality of worship.
  • I learned different ways to pray, like the Lord’s Prayer (age 5).  I’ve seen the power of praying together and opening yourself before God and others (age 68).  I liked studying the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer every week and seeing them on the banner up front; now, when we pray at the table, it means a lot (age 16).  Prayer: so vital to worship, so accessible to people of all ages, such an integral part of a Christian’s life.

PROVERB 7: Worship renewal often takes place around the sacraments

  • There is renewed emphasis and study of the sacraments of baptism and communion.
  • The project brought many people to a greater awareness of Communion and how it can be received/served in different ways.  Younger adults and young people seem to be drawn to the mystery of the sacrament and thus it engages them in worship on a regular basis.
  • The more we studied the sacraments, the more we discovered how deep and complex their meaning and recognized a need to make continuing education on the sacraments part of our church culture.
  • “Communion” comes from the Greek word of Christian fellowship (“koinonia”), life shared with God and with each other.  Communion binds us together as the body of Christ.
  • We have asked, “How can we increase our understanding and appreciation of confession/assurance of pardon in light of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?”

PROVERB 8: There is a hunger for worship renewal.

  • Those who are seeking God appreciate worship that is inviting and experiential, imaginative and inclusive.
  • We did not anticipate fully the eagerness of the congregation to explore worship renewal.  Everybody had varying ideas of what this meant.  We learned that the pastor was instrumental in keeping the idea of renewal before the congregation.  We also learned that much of what we had been doing was simply from habit and did not increase our communication with God.  One thing that surprised some team members was a small segment of the congregation that was very resistant to the idea of making any changes.  They saw the whole idea of renewal as unnecessary.  However, the increased vitality in the worship service served to quiet most of their fears and doubts.
  • We learned that there is much eagerness for worship renewal in the life of our congregations.  Our focus on educating and involving children in worship has been received as a welcome effort.  Most people think of worship as a personal experience to be rated for “how much they get out of it.”  Our task as educators, as well as pastors, is to promote worship as what we do in response to God’s love and grace.  We continue to learn and develop worship habits throughout our lives.

Practical Tips:

  • It only takes a few thoughtful, deliberate and discrete changes to create far-reaching effects.  Numerous or sweeping changes can easily be counter-productive.
  • Worship renewal is a much longer process than we thought – actual, tangible change is incremental.  Perhaps worship renewal is mustard seed speed.
  • Worship renewal is a marathon and not a 40-yard dash, and as a result, we must remain focused, fervent and faithful in continuing this journey of worship renewal.
  • We have learned that planning a worship service is hard work and being creative at it is time-consuming.  But, offering creative worship to God is exhilarating and renewing, calling forth unrecognized gifts.
  • Those who minister are sometimes starving for an opportunity to be ministered to.  Those in leadership sometimes are hurting and need others.
  • How does a congregation regain its call to active ministry and not just say: “That’s the Pastor’s job”?
  • Small Group Dynamics – How developing small group ministries can enhance worship and how worship can enhance small group ministries.
  • Leadership awareness to the culture and place where their congregation is.  How to introduce new ideas without appearing to be dictator or destroyer of tradition.
  • Thinking beyond self – Moving congregations to a new vision of worship and life that extends past its doors.
  • Overcoming the “if it’s not happening in my church, it is not happening” mentality of small member congregations.  Helping move people to experience worship in different settings than in “their church.”
  • Pastor identity – Role of the Pastor in the life of the congregation, i.e. avoiding the over-functioning Pastor/under functioning Church that happens in many small member congregations.  The role of Pastor in teaching and worship – developing an understanding of what a Pastor is and does and whom the congregation is as ministers (priesthood of all believers).
  • Do everything by team.  If you can’t get a team of people together, reevaluate!
  • We have learned the importance of planning ahead.  This grant gave us a manageable way to incorporate more people in planning an overarching theme for a set of services.  Our worship has been more experiential, more creative and more unified than ever before.
  • The participants at the final seminar learned that change is not a bad word.  They also learned some ways of helping people be more open to change in their worship life and empowering them to have a sense of participation in moving towards change.
  • Giving up individual ownership of a vision or project allows others to embrace it.  Allow a vision to be shaped and room to grow through the joyful dialogue of interested believers.
  • You cannot have too much promotion for a project.  Promotion is too big a job to do by yourself.  The best promotion is done from the ground up by those who share your vision.
  • Because we are a young church, we had assumed that habits of worship for our congregation were not really developed.  We found out that every church has habits.  As worship became more interactive, people became more involved.  As our worship involved all ages, we felt more like a family and learned ways God interacts with us in our different life stages.
  • We are all aware of a new energized attitude about worship in our community.  There is a renewed attentiveness toward the elements within our worship service.  Fortunately, the congregation has learned over the year how to provide feedback in a useful and positive manner!
  • We have learned to plan ahead and meet often for vision, strategic planning, prayer and fun!  Worship planning and leading is an exceeding joy!





Oct 8 2012

Do You Have A Worship Elevator Speech?


Could you define worship in 30 seconds or less?

ElevatorAn Elevator Speech is an extremely concise presentation of an idea, model, solution, or strategy that can be presented in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds.  Research indicates that the term originated in the early days of the explosion when web developers were trying to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists in order to secure funding.  Since firms were swamped with requests, the most successful presenters were those who could formulate, consolidate, and describe their proposal in thirty seconds or less.

In a recent article in The Christian Century, the editors invited several noted authors to summarize the Christian message in as few words as possible.  They were instructed to proclaim the gospel in a maximum of seven words and then expound their statements in a few follow-up sentences.[1]

Could you summarize your understanding of worship in the same way?  Defining worship succinctly but also comprehensively is a difficult but necessary proposition.  With mixed results, worship conversations often circle around the formulation of various statements in an attempt to capture the essential meaning, significance, and nature of worship.

So, here is a similar challenge…If you had thirty seconds to define or summarize worship using a maximum of 7 words in an initial statement with a couple of follow-up sentences of explanation, what would your worship elevator speech look like?  In his recent book, Viral, Leonard Sweet wrote, “It takes more work to distill thoughts into two sentences than it does into two pages.”[2]

Share your worship elevator speech with the rest of us on the comment link under the title of this post.  We can all benefit from collective wisdom.  You will see my sample below to jump-start your thinking.

Worship Is…

Planned and Spontaneous Response to God’s Revelation

Worship is not our attempt to initiate God’s presence; it is our response to having been in God’s presence.  God begins the conversation and our reaction with a balance of listening as well as speaking is worship.

[1] See  “The Gospel in Seven Words,” The Christian Century, September 5, 2012, 20.

[2] Leonard Sweet, Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival (Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2012), 66.


Sep 26 2012

Worship In-Between Theology and Practice


In BetweenThe fusion of congregants steeped in post-modernity with those longing for the comfort of modernity is reflected in the uncertainty of worship theology and its relationship to worship practice.  It is logical to assume that the desire for culturally relevant worship will parallel the nature of the prevailing culture.  When, however, most congregations consist of individuals from both worlds, which do we choose?

The transition to post-modernity was a comfortable progression for some, while others strain to hold on to the familiar tenets of modernity.  Conflicts arise as congregations attempt to find common ground between the two worlds in corporate worship practices.  This impasse has precipitated the initiation of multiple worship styled congregations in an attempt to meet the needs of all.  The longing of one generation for what worship was and the hope of another generation for what worship could be may be causing us all to miss worship in the in-between.

In his City to City Blog, Timothy Keller wrote, “To be faithful and fruitful, more Christian leaders should pay attention to this “middle space” between believing doctrine and choosing methods. The vast majority of resources on “how to do church” discuss either the Biblical basics of church belief and practice or specific ways to adopt certain ministry programs.”[1] (Follow the link at the end of this article to read Keller’s entire article titled: Ministry in the Middle Space)

Worship theologian, Robert Webber recognized that there are three predominant group responses to our uncertain relationship of worship cultures.  The first wants worship to be as it was.  Their response is to resist change and the incorporation of new.  The second response is that traditional is irrelevant and new is significant.  Webber offers a third option that respects tradition, while implementing worship styles formed by contemporary culture.  This convergence worship begins with a willingness to reopen all discussions related to worship.[2]  Webber continued with the explanation, “convergence worship is an alternative worship that is concerned for order and freedom, the historical and the contemporary, the verbal and the symbolic.[3]

Keller also wrote in Ministry in the Middle Space, “It has become clear to me that while most Christian leaders do very deliberate, conscious study and thinking to arrive at their doctrinal beliefs, they are almost blind to the process of developing a theological vision. They often just ‘catch’ their convictions about culture, reason, and tradition without really thinking them out. They come upon a ministry that they admire or that helps them personally and then they adopt it wholesale without recognizing the presuppositions, convictions and decisions that went into it.”[4]

Read Ministry in the Middle Space from “City to City Blog” by Timothy Keller


[1] Timothy Keller, Ministry in the Middle Space, “City to City Blog” Database on-line. Available from

[2] Robert E. Webber, ed., The Complete Library of Christian Worship Vol. 3, “The Renewal of Sunday Worship”  (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993), 122.

[3] Ibid., 124.

[4] Keller, Ministry in the Middle Space.



Sep 11 2012

Leading Worship Change…What Are You Reading?


changeWorship change is sometimes necessary as congregations consider the culture and context of who is present and who is not present…yet.  Available resources such as books, websites, and trusted leaders from outside the organization could offer assistance in facilitating healthier change.

In an effort to initiate worship change, leaders often push to do something…anything different than what is not working now.  The lack of planning and reflection often causes unnecessary transitional pain.

It can be just as painful, however, when a congregation is hesitant to change even when it is obvious that change is necessary.  Failing to initiate change when change is inevitable can cause a congregation to get stuck and force them to drift out of control for an undetermined season.  Craig Satterlee wrote, “Any change can be approached as either a threat or an opportunity, either a cause for celebration or a reason to despair.”[1]

Since change is often necessary for organizations to progress, the automatic assumption is that change will always require incorporating something completely new.  It is possible that the only new necessary is for the organization to do what they are already doing…better.  Chip and Dan Heath remind us that, “We rarely ask the question:  What’s working and how can we do more of it? What we ask instead is more problem-focused:  What’s broken and how do we fix it?[2] Leaders must also consider that the only new really essential to organizational success may reside in the revitalization of the attitude and resolve of the leader… not with the structure or practices of the organization.

Leaders often plunge into the stream of change without reflecting on the past and present circumstances that frame the structure and practices of their organization.  In their rush to do something fresh they rarely consider the consequences that could occur as a result of ignoring those circumstances.  Andy Stanley challenges leaders with the understanding that, “Designing and implementing a strategy for change is a waste of time until you have discovered and embraced the current reality.  If you don’t know where you really are, it is impossible to get to where you need to be.  What you don’t know can kill you.”[3]


The following book suggestions offer valuable insights into leading worship change with benevolence.  Please add your favorites to the list by clicking on the comments link under my article title above.

carsonCarson, Timothy L., Transforming Worship (St. Louis: Chalice, 2003).

“What we understand correctly is that the immediate past century may indeed take the gold cup for being the historical period of the greatest rapidity, volume, and complexity of change.  People of great longevity who lived for a hundred years between 1900 and 2000 witnessed an almost unbelievable breadth of change.  Many of them sat in our pews.  They were the ones who finally stopped saying, ‘Now I’ve seen it all.’”

“What we misunderstand, however, is that earlier centuries of Christians faced equally shocking and shaking developments.  We forget the innovative and sometimes heroic ways in which they adapted and often flourished.  By remembering, we can avoid the inclination toward either excessive self-congratulation or undue self-pity.”

SatterleeSatterlee, Craig A., When God Speaks Through Change: Preaching in Times of Congregational Transition (Herndon: Alban Institute, 2005).

“As living organisms, congregations are by definition in a constant state of change.  Whether the changes are in membership, pastoral leadership, lay leadership, the needs of the community, or the broader culture, a crucial mark of healthy congregations is their ability to deal creatively and positively with change.  The fast pace of change in contemporary culture, with its bias toward, not against change only makes the challenge of negotiating change all the more pressing for congregations.”

“During a congregational transition, faithful preaching ensures that the gospel – and not a program or agenda – is proclaimed and heard.  Effective preaching leads the congregation to experience God’s presence, grace, power, and direction amidst the transition.  Faithful and effective preaching illuminates the mystery inherent in the transition, rather than seeking to eliminate it, so that God provides orientation and direction as the congregation moves into what is still unknown.  Faithful and effective preaching models and declares that God speaks through change.”

Trouble at the tableDoran, Carol and Thomas H. Troeger, Trouble At the Table: Gathering the Tribes for Worship (Nashville: Abingdon, 1992).

“Sometimes in the effort to avoid the pitfalls of acting autocratically and in hope that the conflict will disappear, leaders abdicate their role.  Their denomination has supplied them with hymnals and liturgical resources that are rich with materials for revitalizing their worship, but the threat of conflict and resistance is enough to paralyze them.  It is easier to keep choosing from the same limited selections of congregational songs and to keep the same ritual form than to invest the time and energy required to introduce and lead new material effectively.”

“A great deal of tribal warfare results from people using the power of liturgical leadership to impose forms and methods of worship that have at best a tenuous relationship to the depths and demands of faith. The internal pluralism of the congregation and the quickly changing values and fashions of popular culture make it harder to be ‘cohesive’ and to maintain a clear sense of ‘religious identification.’”

ByarsByars, Ronald P., The Future of Protestant Worship: Beyond the Worship Wars (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002).

“What, other than a pioneering spirit, drives these changes?  In some cases, it seems to be a passion for evangelism, and particularly for reaching out to generations largely missing from traditional churches.  In other cases, it seems to be an attempt to hold on to church members who are bored and reluctant worshipers.  Sometimes, it may be an attempt to duplicate the fabulous numerical successes of single-generation congregations.  But behind those various motivating factors, there is the inescapable fact of dramatic cultural change.  What used to work just fine (or seemed to) doesn’t work anymore.”

“Is anything really essential to Christian worship?  Or is worship simply a blank page, an empty hour or so to be filled with whatever seems religious?  Is it possible to worship in the idiom of popular culture without oversimplifying and even distorting the gospel?  Or, by turning its back on contemporary cultural forms, does the church become elitist, inaccessible to large numbers of people?  Should these questions even be addressed without at least some minimal consultation with Scripture, theology, and history, as well as sociology?  Interested parties have answered all these questions differently.  Since a great deal is at stake, it’s no surprise that passions rise when dealing with them.”

[1] Satterlee, Craig A., When God Speaks through Change: Preaching in Times of Congregational Transition (Herndon: Alban Institute, 2005), 6.

[2] Heath, Chip and Dan Heath, Switch:  How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (New York: Broadway Books, 2010), 55.

[3] Stanley, Andy, The Next Generation Leader (Sisters: Multnomah, 2003), 75.


Aug 26 2012

How Can Worship Pastors Keep Their Jobs?


A few weeks ago I wrote the following paragraph as part of my post An Open Letter to Transient Worship Pastors.

“Musical talent and platform presence may help you secure a worship pastor position but developing leadership and relationship skills will help you keep it.  In fact, mandated change in the form of forced termination is often the result of this deficiency and rarely occurs as a result of musical weaknesses.  And yet, where are you spending most of your worship leadership preparation time?  You will never be able to teach enough new songs to make up for your relational and leadership failures.”

You can read the entire post here:

you're firedThis week I received a lengthy response to that open letter from a senior pastor presently living that reality with his worship pastor.  Here are some of the comments he shared with genuine pastoral concern:

“I’m a senior pastor working with a worship leader whose talent is apparent on Sunday morning.  It is the behind the scenes stuff that isn’t really getting done.  On numerous occasions I have expressed my concerns and the concerns of others and have encouraged him to follow through with his responsibilities.  His most recent response was, ‘I thought this was more about ministry than about politics.  It feels like I have to accomplish all of these little things when I come to work and I just want to do ministry.’  He really loves people, loves music, and has a great love for God.  He often falls short, however, when it comes to leading people and often wonders why those people are not responding to his leadership.”

As a follow-up to my original Open Letter to Transient Worship Pastors and in response to the concerns expressed by this pastor and others, here are some suggestions for this impasse.


Suggestions To Help Worship Pastors Keep Their Jobs

  • Make the mortgage payment before you remodel the kitchen

Worse first!  Since Sunday comes every week…do the things that are necessary before you do the things that can wait.  Do the roadwork at the beginning of the week so you can focus on the things that charge you up at the end of the week.  Thomas Edison said, “People don’t work hard because in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort.  Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves successful.  Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”

  • Place more focus on the people than the project

Events are an important part of your ministry but not at the expense of relationships.  Don’t leave relationships in your wake as you move toward the end result.  The process is also ministry.  What will they remember more…the event or the investment you made in them leading up to the event?

  • Look out for number 2

In his book 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (Like Me), John Fischer calls placing others first…Looking out for number 2.  Become the person who always hopes someone else gets the credit, honor, and accolades.  Abraham Lincoln wrote, “It is surprising how much you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  Effective worship leaders are strength finders and strength builders who constantly affirm publicly and privately.    

  • Be a lifelong learner

You begin coasting the moment you think you have all the understanding, knowledge, and skills needed.  Develop lateral mentoring relationships.  Read ecumenically…and not just authors or subjects you always agree with.  Visit and observe other congregations.  Attend conferences and workshops.  You stop leading when you stop learning.

  • Remember that you are not in this alone

God has called you and will sustain you in that calling.  You must also, however, surround yourself with others.  Bring people along with you.  Let them in.  When you bring people along with you, your failures and successes are distributed out more evenly.  Don’t forget the “great cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1).  Ken Blanchard said, “Leadership is not something you do to people, it is something you do with people.”

  • Love much

Love God

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Love your family

Loving your family means spending time with them.  The Church is the bride of Christ, not your bride.  Don’t sacrifice your family for ministry…nurturing your family is ministry.  Missed opportunities with your spouse and children can never be recovered.

Love the Church

Loving the Church means you trust them enough to let them in.  Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of humility.  Love the church unconditionally and you will be the beneficiary of much more than you could ever give.

  • Move tables

Are you the leader who disappears to carry out more important ministry obligations when it is time to set up for or clean up after an event?  Jesus said, “But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27).  Musicians are often arrogant.  Instead, with genuine humility, be the first one to volunteer for the menial task that no one else wants.  Don Shula once said, “You can’t coach from the press box; you have to be on the field.”

  • Remember that failure is an option (occasionally)

Some companies require their leaders to fail.  If they do not ever fail it means they are not taking enough creative risks.  This suggestion is not a license for laziness or recklessness.  When you fail…don’t blame others for your deficiencies and failures…own them.  Surround yourself with those who have strengths in your areas of weakness so that particular failure is never repeated.

  • Lighten up

When was the last time you actually had fun in ministry?  Maybe the more telling question is when was the last time those you lead had fun under your leadership?  When we arrogantly assume that we are indispensable to God and our busyness is a sign of significance…we need to lighten up.  When we are constantly frustrated with people who will not do what we need them to do…we need to lighten up.  Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Laugh often…mostly at yourself.  A famous conductor jumped into a taxi outside the opera house and shouted to the driver “Hurry! Hurry!” “Very good sir” said the driver.  “But where to?”  “It doesn’t matter,” said the conductor impatiently.  “They need me everywhere.”


Jul 23 2012

Evaluating Your Worship…Are You Asking the Right Questions?


questionsIt has been a couple of years since I posted my Worship Service Evaluation Questionnaire below.  You have my permission to use all or part of the questionnaire to meet the needs of your congregation.  It can be initiated internally by asking select members of your congregation to respond to the questions or externally by enlisting an outside evaluator to ask questions from the perspective of a first-time guest.

Unless an organized plan of evaluating worship based on the deeper biblical and theological issues is implemented, the tendency for congregations to focus on style and service mechanics will continue to consume the energy of worship planners and leaders. Since most congregations do not have an instrument to regularly evaluate their worship, the following questionnaire was developed to encourage those congregations to consider worship renewal grounded in Scripture and modeled throughout the history of the church.

Worship evaluation will occur.  Leaders must determine if they would rather initiate the evaluation themselves or constantly respond to congregational critics who have initiated an evaluation for them.  A pre-emptive approach could reduce the conflict that will inevitably occur from the latter.


Service Date:_________________________

Service Time:_______________________

 Specific Worship Elements


  • When were worshipers first greeted after leaving their car?


  • Was an attitude of community evident as the congregation gathered?


  • Were worshipers embraced as a part of this community during the gathering?


  • Was the congregation publicly invited to participate in this worship service?  Examples:  invocation, hymn/song, call to worship, processional.


Congregational Singing/Presentational Music

  • Was the congregational singing passive or participative?


  • Did the music selected for congregational singing include a balance of familiar and new?


  • Did congregational song selections include both vertical and horizontal expressions?  celebrative and reflective?


  • Did presentational music encourage congregational participation or passivity of performer and audience?


  • Was the text theologically sound and did it affirm the scripture as central?


  • Was the music multi-generational and culturally appropriate for this congregation?


  • Did music get too much attention in this service?


Visual and Fine Arts

  • Were visual and/or fine arts incorporated into this service?  Examples: mime, drama, dance, poetry, painting, sculpture, video, film.


  • Did the use of the arts in this service contribute to or distract from the worship expressions?


  • Was it evident through these arts that worship is visual as well as verbal?


  • Were artistic expressions used inappropriately in this worship service?  Examples:  glory of man instead of God, manipulation, entertainment.



  • Was it evident that prayer was an important part of this worship service?


  • Who led in prayer?  What types of prayer were led?  Examples:  invocation, confession, supplication, intercession, communion, lament, thanksgiving, repentance.


  • Were prayers fixed and/or spontaneous?


  • Were various prayer postures encouraged?



  • In this worship service was it evident that Scripture is foundational?


  • What Scripture passages were read in this service?


  • Who read Scripture?  How was it read?


  • Was Scripture read beyond the text for the sermon?


  • Was there a sense that the sermon came after the “preliminaries” or was it evident that the sermon was a part of the worship?


  • Did the congregation actively participate in the reading of Scripture?


Ordinances – Lord’s Supper/Baptism

  • Was the Lord’s Supper celebrated in this service?  If so, what was the attitude of the observance?  Examples:  communion, thanksgiving, remembrance, celebration, eschatology.


  • Did the Lord’s Supper provide an opportunity for symbolism and mystery?


  • Was the Lord’s Supper central to the worship theme of this service?


  • If the Lord’s Supper was not celebrated, what other options were available for responding to the Word?  Examples:  offering, congregational singing, baptism, testimonies, prayers of confession, invitation, Scripture, presentational music.


  • Was baptism celebrated in this service?  Did the baptism contribute to the communal relationship of the congregation?


  • Was the symbolism of baptism evident and understood by members and guests?



  • How was the congregation dismissed at the end of the service?


  • Was the dismissal a sacred expression?  Examples:  blessing, challenge, communal action, recessional.


  • Was there a communal and unified attitude evident as the congregation left?


Additional Elements

  • Where were the announcements presented?  Did they distract from the flow of worship?


  • Was the offering a time of sacrificial response that encouraged an attitude of worship?


  • What additional elements were present in this service?


General Worship Elements

  • Did the service feature a balance of worship actions?  Examples:  praise, confession, dedication, commitment, response, lament.


  • Was the service conversational involving God’s words to us and our words to God?


  • Did the worship space encourage my participation in worship?  Examples:  icons, art, symbols, colors, lights.


  • Was the order of service easy to follow or confusing?


  • Did the service flow well?  Did transitions link the worship elements?  Was the pace satisfactory?


  • Did the worship leaders convey a genuine pastoral concern?


  • Which of the five senses were used?


  • Was there a good balance of celebration and contemplation?


  • Were there elements of the service presented by leaders that could have been presented by the people?  Examples: prayer, Scripture reading, testimonies.


  • Were physical actions encouraged?  Examples:  raising hands, kneeling, bowing head, palms upturned, clapping, standing.


  • Did the service give participants an opportunity to connect with one another?


  • What symbols were used in this worship service?


  • Did anything in the service distract my attention from a conversation with God?


  • Were guests able to meaningfully follow the service without confusion?  Were elements presented that were generally accepted by the congregation that might be unfamiliar to a guest?  Were these elements explained?


  • Did the service offer a time of silence for reflection, repentance, or confession?


  • Besides congregational singing, what elements offered an opportunity for active participation?


  • Did the worship service invite the congregation to be a part of God’s story through Jesus Christ?



May 20 2012

Are Christian Colleges and Seminaries Preparing Worship Leaders For A Church That No Longer Exists?


futureWorship change is inevitable as congregations consider the fluidity of their surrounding cultures and contexts.  It would stand to reason, then, that the leaders who facilitate worship in those ever changing congregations must also learn how to develop, cultivate, and lead change by listening to the voice of their community and congregation.

How will those leaders be prepared to recognize and respond to cultural shifts if the educational institutions that train them for ministry aren’t also embracing a comparable attitude of acceptance and adaptation?

Several colleges and seminaries have already modified their educational and methodological systems in response to the changing churches and cultures while still respecting the foundations of the past.  Their commitment to considering the pulse of the present and flexibility for the future has resulted in renewed enthusiasm and substantial enrollment growth.

Other institutions have been hesitant to embrace those needed changes and as a result have experienced waning interest and enrollment decline.  Their curriculum seems to be preparing the students they have left for a church that no longer exists.  If this is your educational institution, maybe some of the following suggestions could serve as a starting point to begin some new conversations:

  • Help students discover that music and worship are not exclusively synonymous.  If music is the only driver during their educational preparation it will inevitably surface as the primary point of contention during their congregational implementation.
  • Don’t compromise preparation for congregational acclimation in the name of institutional accreditation.
  • Open their eyes to the foundational tenets of worship based on history, theology, Scripture, prayer, and communion before immersing them in the music.
  • In addition to traditional musical analysis, teach them to be conversant in the language and praxis of chord charts, capos, and kick drums.
  • Educate them in the various and fluid dynamics of worship teams and praise bands as well as choirs and orchestras.
  • Keep them abreast of the current trends in audio and video media and technology.
  • Expand their awareness of the arts to include other genres and media expressions beyond music.   Help them understand that embracing the arts as both verbal and visual relieves the pressure of music as the primary driver and culprit.
  • Help them to understand that leading music doesn’t necessarily equate to leading people.
  • Spend multiple semesters preparing them for staff and congregational relationships.  Most worship ministry failures and forced terminations are as a result of leadership and relational conflict and rarely occur as a result of musical deficiencies.
  • Help them to better understand and appreciate the relational dynamics of multigenerations before ever considering the musical dynamics of those generations.
  • Train them to be curious and open but also judicious students of the culture.
  • Provide resources and principles to help them weather the changes that will inevitably occur in the future.  Model healthy change that values conviction, collaboration, and patience.
  • Encourage the students to read ecumenically and study worship through the eyes of various denominations, faiths, cultures, and generations.
  • Remind them constantly that their college or seminary training is not the end but the beginning of their worship education.  A terminal degree should not signify the death of learning.
  • Require institutional administrators and faculty to attend worship conferences, concerts, classes, and workshops outside of their areas of expertise, stylistic preferences, contexts, cultures, and even comfort.  How can they teach new worship and media languages if they don’t speak them?

May 6 2012

Does Your Worship Leader Wear Skinny Jeans?


skinny jeansWho is your worship leader?  Most of us immediately picture the platform personality who leads the music portion of our service in skinny jeans with guitar, business casual with worship team, or coat and tie with choir.

Scripture tells us, however, that Jesus as our high priest sits at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and serves as a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man (Heb. 8:1-2).  Earlier in the book of Hebrews, the author writes that Jesus sings God’s praises and declares His name to His brothers (Heb. 2:12, Ps. 22:22).

So who is your worship leader?  Jesus Is! He is our minister, our leitourgos (Gr.)…our liturgist.  He is the high priest, the worship leader who is holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens (Heb. 7:26).  He sits at the right hand of the throne of Majesty and mediates worship from us to the Father and to us from the Father.

If our understanding of worship leadership could begin here…maybe we could stop drawing lines in the sand over style and preference.  Maybe we could end the expectation that platform attire and song selections determine if God shows up since Jesus, as our mediator has already settled that for us.  Maybe congregants would no longer need to fight for their perceived musical rights since Jesus lives to intercede for them with a plan superior to their own…a covenant founded on better promises (Heb. 8:6).

Jesus as our liturgist gives us worship confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by His blood, by a new and living way that allows us to draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (Heb. 10:19-21).  Embracing Jesus as our worship leader is a lofty goal. It is, however, a biblical one and also could be a healing one.


Apr 10 2012

How Do You Know Your Congregation Is Singing? Take A Canary into the Mine.


Taking a canary into a coal mine previously served as an early warning system for mines with inadequate ventilation systems.  Canaries are especially sensitive to methane gas and carbon monoxide, which made them ideal for detecting a dangerous build-up of gas in the coal seam.  The canary showed signs of distress in response to small concentrations of gas before it became detrimental to the miners.  The first sign of imminent danger was when the canary stopped singing.

canaryIf certain generations, cultures, or even the majority of your congregation has stopped singing, it is probably an early warning sign of danger ahead.  And it is often difficult if not impossible for worship leaders to detect those warning signs from the platform.

The idiom canary in a coal mine has continued as a reference to a person or thing that serves as a warning of a looming crisis.  Enlisting trusted individuals from your congregation to regularly ask questions not only about the worship singing of your congregation, but also about the way you lead the singing could alert you and your congregation to imminent conflict while there is still time for curative care.  The key is to intentionally implement a pre-emptive process since the asking of similar questions will inevitably occur in the halls and parking lots anyway.

Note:  It is vital to enlist individuals to ask evaluative questions who love God, love the church, and love you enough to honestly evaluate your leadership and assess the level of congregational participation.  The humility necessary to initiate a process such as this can only occur if you also love God, love the church, and love the people enough to sacrifice your own interests for the greater good of the church.

Sample Congregational Singing Questions:

  • Are characteristic traits, character flaws, or idiosyncrasies of the leaders encouraging/discouraging congregational participation?  Examples:  genuineness, preparedness, platform presence, vocal clarity, empathy, grammar, arrogance, aloofness, chattiness, selflessness, service, selfishness, and deep spirituality.
  • Is congregational singing passive or participative?  What are leaders doing to encourage/discourage passivity or participation?  Are the leaders depending on song selection only to accomplish this goal?
  • Do song selections include a balance of familiar and new?
  • Do songs include expressions that are:  vertical and horizontal, celebrative and contemplative, comforting and disturbing?
  • Is the song text theologically sound and does it affirm scripture as central?  Is it trite or archaic, repetitive or diverse?
  • Are song selections culturally appropriate for our congregation?  Are leaders selecting worship songs giving primary consideration to the culture they hope to reach, the culture of our existing congregation, a mixture of both, or neither?
  • Do our songs encourage conversational worship… including God’s words to us as well as our words to God?  Are leaders incorporating musical elements that distract our attention from that conversation?
  • Does our worship space encourage participation in congregational singing?  Examples:  inclusion of icons, art, symbols, colors, lights.  Does our worship space discourage participation in congregational singing?  Examples: poor acoustics, sound/volume issues, poor lighting.
  • Do the service songs flow well?  Do transitions link other worship elements?  Is the pace satisfactory?  Is the volume appropriate?  Are the keys routinely pitched too high or low for the average singer?
  • Are physical actions actively encouraged?  Examples:  raising hands, kneeling, bowing head, palms upturned, or clapping?  How do leaders convey to the congregants and guests what is appropriate and/or acceptable?
  • Do the songs give participants an opportunity to connect with one another?  Is this intentional or assumed?
  • Are guests able to participate in the congregational singing without confusion?  Are elements presented that are generally accepted by the congregation that might be unfamiliar to a guest?  How do you know?  Are musical elements explained or assumed?

Feb 26 2012

Worship Old and New…What Were We Thinking?



Worship practices evolve. What may have initially seemed like a good idea didn’t always turn out that way when it was actually implemented or time tested. Consider the following practices and feel free to add to them since this is not an exhaustive list.

Special Music: The person who originated the moniker Special Music probably lifted the idea from 1950’s movie theatres that used subliminal suggestions of popcorn and coke in previews to encourage moviegoers to buy more concessions. It was obvious in many of our churches that just continuing to suggest the choir song or instrumental/vocal solo right before the sermon was special did not automatically make it so. Maybe if we had referred to all other music in the service as ordinary or common or defined special as different or peculiar we could have lengthened its shelf life.

Baptism: Whoever determined white baptismal attire inspired thoughts of purity should have market tested them for transparency in water first.

Offering: Passing the offering plate as a communal act of worship has devolved into the church version of the 7th inning stretch. Although many are faithful stewards, they have exercised the option of giving by monthly check, direct deposit, pre-pay, or on-line credit card. Creative giving options have proven to be successful but even so have contributed to the passivity of this element as a corporate worship act. Consequently, children and youth no longer get to observe or even know if their parents are faithful in financially sacrificing as a spiritual act of worship unless those parents somehow involve them during the week. Is it time to stop passing the plate or has your congregation developed a strategy for participatory worship during the designated offering time that would benefit us all?

Call to Worship: This service element is the spiritual version of the Indy 500 announcement, Gentlemen Start Your Engines! If Christian worship actually starts at the beginning of the service when we call it to start and stops at the end of the service when we call it to stop…is that an indication no worship occurs the other 167 hours of the week?

Hymns: In what setting was the Charles Wesley hymn text, To me, to all, Thy Bowels Move ever appropriate? Now that was Special Music.

Announcements: Have we added up the number of minutes spent in the worship service promoting the women’s Zumba class and the men’s Shoot to Grill Wild Game Dinner; and then compared that with the number of minutes spent in Scripture and prayer in the same service? Maybe announcements could contribute to rather than detract from worship if we spent as much time praying over and rehearsing them as we spend praying over and rehearsing songs.

Ordinances: The two ordinances prescribed by Jesus and practiced by the church are often forgotten in-between observances because the icons symbolizing those ordinances (baptismal font and communion table) have been completely removed or at least hidden with curtains/screens or cornucopias/memorial flower sprays. It is obvious we are not averse to all symbolism since we use props and stage sets to symbolize and remind the congregation of our current sermon series. Could it be that removing those two symbols which visually remind believers not only of what God has done in their lives but what He promised to continue to do has contributed to the monotony of those ordinances when they are actually observed?

We would all benefit from your responses to these comments and additions from your own experiences and cultures. To respond, left click the COMMENTS link at the end of the Posted by section under the post title.


Feb 20 2012

Is Easter A Waste of Time?


EasterThe celebration of Easter 2012 is less than two months away.  Churches are formulating plans for a meaningful day of worship and ministry knowing they will potentially reach more attendees than any other Sunday of the year.  If those congregations and yours affirm Easter as the most important celebration of the church year and the basis for our hope, why limit its observance to one Sunday a year?  Has our concern with appearing too liturgical caused us to miss an entire season of remembrance, celebration, and worship?

The observance of Easter in the early church was more than just a one-day historical remembrance.  The celebration of the Paschal mystery was set aside not only to remember that Christ was crucified and rose again, but also to celebrate His appearance following His resurrection, His ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and His ultimate return.  Because of their great joy, early Christians began this celebration with Easter and continued for fifty days until Pentecost.  Revisiting the mystery of the resurrection through an expanded celebration could assist in worship renewal through the theological realization that this commemoration of redemption, sanctification, salvation, renewal, and victory must not be limited to one day.

Some congregations and even entire denominations have not traditionally embraced the Great Fifty Days and other elements of the Christian calendar primarily out of a concern of rigidity, conformity, loss of autonomy, or fear of appearing too “Catholic.”  Additional desire for worship creativity has caused congregations to look elsewhere out of concern that annual celebrations promote monotony.  Timothy Carson states that, “Exactly the opposite may be true.  Because it has stood the test of time, it may be sufficiently deep to allow me to swim more deeply in it.  Because it is repeated, I have another chance, today, to go where I could not go yesterday.”[1]  Even as congregations avoid the Christian calendar, they affirm the annual observance of cultural and denominational days of celebration whose foundations are not always biblically grounded.[2]   The irony is found in the realization that in the development of these denominational and cultural calendars we have created denominational liturgies in response to our desire to be non-liturgical.

To avoid Christian calendar days that are celebrated during the same time of the year as the cultural, denominational, and civic days is to ignore the very foundation of the Church.  Is it possible to converge holidays significant to our cultural and denominational calendar with the Christian holidays significant to the Kingdom?  Is there any reason why Mother’s Day, Graduation Sunday, and Memorial Day could not be celebrated in the same season as Ascension Day and Pentecost? For this to occur, congregations must understand the significance of Easter beyond a one-day of celebration.  “For the explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord is too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day.”[3]

A renewed interest in the Christian year by some congregations is based on a deeper understanding of this calendar as the ideal starting point for structuring seasonal worship.  The theme of the fifty days of Easter as one single celebration provides a connection with Christians of the past church and unifies Christians of the present church in a continuous ecumenical approach.  Observing this celebration could help congregations “recover the transforming news that Jesus’ past resurrection dramatically transforms present and future reality.”[4]  Additionally, it will help them delight in the knowledge that Jesus’ death and resurrection is stamped on their spiritual biographies.[5]  Although observing elements of the Christian year such as the Great Fifty Days may be a stretch for your congregation, consider making that decision based on a deeper biblical, theological, and historical understanding, not solely on traditionalism.


[1] Timothy L. Carson, Transforming Worship, (St. Louis: Chalice, 2003), 57.

[2] Idid., 56.

[3] Laurence Hull Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church,  (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 53.

[4] John D. Witvliet, Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows into Christian Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 290.

[5] Ibid.


Nov 27 2011

Have You Read A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future?


A CallI was challenged again this week in the re-reading of A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future. If you have never had the opportunity to read this meaningful document you are encouraged to enter into the dialogue to experience it for the first time.

In 2006, collaborating with numerous theologians and scholars, Robert Webber and Philip Kenyon organized and edited A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future. The intent of the document was to restore the priority of the divinely inspired biblical story of God’s acts in history. Even though the document was written five years ago its text continues to offer the Church bound by conflict and division a place of commonality and unity grounded in the biblical narrative. (see and the Prologue of A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future)

Webber was an American theologian known for his work on worship and the early church. He wrote more than 40 books on the topic of worship and how the practices of the ancient church have value for the church of the 21st century. Before his death in 2007 of pancreatic cancer, Webber spent most of his last year communicating with more than 300 leaders representing various ethnicities and faith cultures to craft this document.

The language of The Call may not all be consistent with the doctrines and practices of your faith community. You are encouraged however, to view the document in light of your culture while also considering its value for the unity of the entire ecumenical faith community. Read A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future with a heart sensitive to what you can affirm as unifying instead of a critical spirit which filters the document for elements that cause concern.

In every age the Holy Spirit calls the Church to examine its faithfulness to God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, authoritatively recorded in Scripture and handed down through the Church. Thus, while we affirm the global strength and vitality of worldwide Evangelicalism in our day, we believe the North American expression of Evangelicalism needs to be especially sensitive to the new external and internal challenges facing God’s people.

These external challenges include the current cultural milieu and the resurgence of religious and political ideologies. The internal challenges include Evangelical accommodation to civil religion, rationalism, privatism and pragmatism. In light of these challenges, we call Evangelicals to strengthen their witness through a recovery of the faith articulated by the consensus of the ancient Church and its guardians in the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation and the Evangelical awakenings. Ancient Christians faced a world of paganism, Gnosticism and political domination. In the face of heresy and persecution, they understood history through Israel’s story, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of God’s Kingdom.

Today, as in the ancient era, the Church is confronted by a host of master narratives that contradict and compete with the gospel. The pressing question is: who gets to narrate the world? The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future challenges Evangelical Christians to restore the priority of the divinely inspired biblical story of God’s acts in history. The narrative of God’s Kingdom holds eternal implications for the mission of the Church, its theological reflection, its public ministries of worship and spirituality and its life in the world. By engaging these themes, we believe the Church will be strengthened to address the issues of our day.

We call for a return to the priority of the divinely authorized canonical story of the Triune God. This story-Creation, Incarnation, and Re-creation-was effected by Christ’s recapitulation of human history and summarized by the early Church in its Rules of Faith. The gospel-formed content of these Rules served as the key to the interpretation of Scripture and its critique of contemporary culture, and thus shaped the church’s pastoral ministry. Today, we call Evangelicals to turn away from modern theological methods that reduce the gospel to mere propositions, and from contemporary pastoral ministries so compatible with culture that they camouflage God’s story or empty it of its cosmic and redemptive meaning. In a world of competing stories, we call Evangelicals to recover the truth of God’s word as the story of the world, and to make it the centerpiece of Evangelical life.

We call Evangelicals to take seriously the visible character of the Church. We call for a commitment to its mission in the world in fidelity to God’s mission (Missio Dei), and for an exploration of the ecumenical implications this has for the unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity of the Church. Thus, we call Evangelicals to turn away from an individualism that makes the Church a mere addendum to God’s redemptive plan. Individualistic Evangelicalism has contributed to the current problems of churchless Christianity, redefinitions of the Church according to business models, separatist ecclesiologies and judgmental attitudes toward the Church. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to recover their place in the community of the Church catholic.

We call for the Church’s reflection to remain anchored in the Scriptures in continuity with the theological interpretation learned from the early Fathers. Thus, we call Evangelicals to turn away from methods that separate theological reflection from the common traditions of the Church. These modern methods compartmentalize God’s story by analyzing its separate parts, while ignoring God’s entire redemptive work as recapitulated in Christ. Anti-historical attitudes also disregard the common biblical and theological legacy of the ancient Church. Such disregard ignores the hermeneutical value of the Church’s ecumenical creeds. This reduces God’s story of the world to one of many competing theologies and impairs the unified witness of the Church to God’s plan for the history of the world. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to unity in “the tradition that has been believed everywhere, always and by all,” as well as to humility and charity in their various Protestant traditions.

We call for public worship that sings, preaches and enacts God’s story. We call for a renewed consideration of how God ministers to us in baptism, Eucharist, confession, the laying on of hands, marriage, healing and through the charisma of the Spirit, for these actions shape our lives and signify the meaning of the world. Thus, we call Evangelicals to turn away from forms of worship that focus on God as a mere object of the intellect or that assert the self as the source of worship. Such worship has resulted in lecture-oriented, music-driven, performance-centered and program-controlled models that do not adequately proclaim God’s cosmic redemption. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to recover the historic substance of worship of Word and Table and to attend to the Christian year, which marks time according to God’s saving acts.

We call for a catechetical spiritual formation of the people of God that is based firmly on a Trinitarian biblical narrative. We are concerned when spirituality is separated from the story of God and baptism into the life of Christ and his Body. Spirituality, made independent from God’s story, is often characterized by legalism, mere intellectual knowledge, an overly therapeutic culture, New Age Gnosticism, a dualistic rejection of this world and a narcissistic preoccupation with one’s own experience. These false spiritualities are inadequate for the challenges we face in today’s world. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to return to a historic spirituality like that taught and practiced in the ancient catechumenate.

We call for a cruciform holiness and commitment to God’s mission in the world. This embodied holiness affirms life, biblical morality and appropriate self-denial. It calls us to be faithful stewards of the created order and bold prophets to our contemporary culture. Thus, we call Evangelicals to intensify their prophetic voice against forms of indifference to God’s gift of life, economic and political injustice, ecological insensitivity and the failure to champion the poor and marginalized. Too often we have failed to stand prophetically against the culture’s captivity to racism, consumerism, political correctness, civil religion, sexism, ethical relativism, violence and the culture of death. These failures have muted the voice of Christ to the world through his Church and detract from God’s story of the world, which the Church is collectively to embody. Therefore, we call the Church to recover its counter-cultural mission to the world.

In sum, we call Evangelicals to recover the conviction that God’s story shapes the mission of the Church to bear witness to God’s Kingdom and to inform the spiritual foundations of civilization. We set forth this Call as an ongoing, open-ended conversation. We are aware that we have our blind spots and weaknesses. Therefore, we encourage Evangelicals to engage this Call within educational centers, denominations and local churches through publications and conferences.
We pray that we can move with intention to proclaim a loving, transcendent, triune God who has become involved in our history. In line with Scripture, creed and tradition, it is our deepest desire to embody God’s purposes in the mission of the Church through our theological reflection, our worship, our spirituality and our life in the world, all the while proclaiming that Jesus is Lord over all creation.

© Northern Seminary 2006 Robert Webber and Phil Kenyon

Conveners: Robert E. Webber, Myers professor of ministry, Northern Seminary; Philip C. Kenyon, director, Grow Center for Biblical Leadership, Northern Seminary.
Theological Editors: Hans Boersma, Packer professor of theology, Regent College; Howard Snyder, professor of world mission, Asbury Theological Seminary, and university professor of world Christianity, Spring Arbor University; Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; D. H. Williams, professor of patristics and historical theology, Baylor University.


Nov 14 2011

Are You Developing A Worship Farm Team?


farm teamMajor League Baseball refers to the grooming of younger, less advanced players in the minor league system as “player development.” Those minor league affiliates are informally called farm teams.

Farm teams provide mentoring, training, coaching, and practical experience for younger players with the expectation that as a player matures he will advance to a higher level of play and responsibility. The foundation of the minor league system is to invest in younger players for the future of the team. A major league team with a weak farm system may have success for a time but will rarely carry that success into the future.

Those who prepare and lead worship tend to think, plan, and implement in the moment since Sunday comes every week. Investing in future players, singers, and even primary worship leaders is rarely a consideration…until a vacancy occurs. The value of player development is realized when congregations attempt to fill those vacancies. What most find is that the pool of potential replacements out there is often very shallow and those who are available are an unknown quantity.

Implementing a farm team model of developing younger, less advanced players from in here can offer a better-known resource for future leaders. Investing in those who already understand the culture, personality, worship language, and mission of a congregation has a greater potential for success.

Imagine a congregation so successfully implementing this model that they groom more worship leaders than they have places for them to serve. Then…imagine the Kingdom value of getting to farm-out those trained leaders to other congregations who were not as prepared to fill vacancies.


May 9 2011

What Is the Relationship of Worship and Mission in Our Post-Christendom Culture?


Worship and MissionIn Worship and Mission After Christendom (Scottdale: Herald, 2011), Alan and Eleanor Kreider offer a deeper understanding into how worship and mission are interweaved within the culture of a people who take seriously God’s call to be the church in a world where institutional religion is no longer taken for granted.  This book is a valuable resource for worship leaders and missiologists alike who value the relationship of these two disciplines.

Worship and Mission After Christendom is part of the After Christendom series written to explore the implications of the demise of Christendom and the challenges facing a church now living on the margins of western society.  The authors in this series see the current challenges facing the church not as the loss of a golden age but as opportunities to recover a more biblical and more Christian way of being God’s people in God’s world.

The first book in the After Christendom series offered a definition of post-Christendom:  The culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story and as the institutions that have been developed to express Christian convictions decline in influence.[1]

The author continues by identifying seven transitions that mark the shift from Christendom to post-Christendom, each of which has implications for how Christians understand their role within society:

  • From the center to margins: in Christendom the Christian story and the churches were central, but in post-Christendom these are marginal.
  • From majority to minority: in Christendom Christians comprised the (often overwhelming) majority, but in post-Christendom we are a minority.
  • From settlers to sojourners: in Christendom Christians felt at home in a culture shaped by their story, but in post-Christendom we are aliens, exiles and pilgrims in a culture where we no longer feel at home.
  • From privilege to plurality: in Christendom Christians enjoyed many privileges, but in post-Christendom we are one community among many in a plural society.
  • From control to witness: in Christendom churches could exert control over society, but in post-Christendom we exercise influence only through witnessing to our story and its implications.
  • From maintenance to mission: in Christendom the emphasis was on maintaining a supposedly Christian status quo, but in post-Christendom it is on mission within a contested environment.
  • From institution to movement: in Christendom churches operated mainly in institutional mode, but in post-Christendom we must become again a Christian movement.[2]

The term post-Christendom, “Contrary to the claims of some critics, does not imply the withdrawal of Christians or the church from the public realm.”[3] Rather, it suggests that the nature of our involvement in politics, culture and society needs to be renegotiated in light of changing circumstances and changing theological convictions. The ‘post’ aspect of the term invites us to leave behind the compromises of the past; the ‘Christendom’ aspect is a reminder of the legacy with which we must grapple and from which we must learn as we explore uncharted territory.[4]

In worship, Christians “tell and celebrate the story of God and give thanks and praise to the One who is continuing that story.”[5] The Kreider’s continue by writing, “Our worship services have integrity when they attune us to God’s project and when they align us with God’s mission, so that our lives as individual Christians and as Christian communities are invested in who God is and what God is doing.  Further, our acts of worship ascribe worth to God when we allow the God we worship to transform our allegiances, behavior, and priorities in light of God’s character and mission.”[6] The writing of Alan and Eleanor Kreider in Worship and Mission After Christendom will serve as a great resource to help your congregation weather the storms resulting from our changing and changed culture and as a reminder that the foundation of mission and worship has not changed even though culture has.

[1] Stuart Murray, Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2004), 19.

[2] Ibid., 20.

[3] Craig Carter, Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2006).

[4] See

[5] Alan Kreider and Eleanor Kreider, Worship and Mission After Christendom (Scottdale: Herald, 2011), 58.

[6] Ibid., 59.


Apr 24 2011

Is Your Worship Based on Core Convictions?


Core Convictions are foundational standards, principles, values, and tenets.

The following post is taken from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship website.  Check out their website for additional worship resources and links at:

The language, comments, and questions may not all be consistent with the doctrines and practices of your faith community.  You are encouraged however, to view the foundational principles in light of your culture, giving consideration to their value for your congregation and the entire ecumenical faith community.

On their tenth anniversary in 2007, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship identified ten core principles and practices to present as their central convictions about vital Christian worship.  They indicated that their desire in presenting these core convictions was that their many ecumenical partners and contacts would find them clear, compelling, and most of all enriching for their own worship and ministry.

Ten Core Convictions

These ten core convictions are not innovations. They are timeless truths from Scripture and the rich history of Christian worship. Today, each conviction remains theologically crucial, pastorally significant, and culturally threatened. The importance of one or all of these convictions risks being obscured by cultural trends outside the church, and disputes about the mechanics and style of worship within the church. This attempt to reiterate and reinforce the importance of these ten core convictions will lead, we pray, to more fruitful (if not necessarily easier) conversations about the meaning and practice of Christian worship. Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by:

1. A vivid awareness of the beauty, majesty, mystery, and holiness of the triune God

Worship cultivates our knowledge and imagination about who God is and what God has done. Worship gives us a profound awareness of the glory, beauty, and holiness of God. Each element of worship can be understood through a Trinitarian framework. Worship renewal is best sustained by attention to the triune God we worship.

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. (Ps. 27:4)

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. (Ps. 63:2)

Related Questions

  • What is the picture of God we are, consciously and unconsciously, cultivating in our worship?
  • In what moments of our worship do we most perceive the glory and beauty of God?
  • In what way does our worship space convey God’s glory?
  • In what way might renewed attention to God’s glory make our worship more contemplative? more exuberant? more vibrant?
  • What barriers does our culture present to worshiping with a sense of God’s transcendence?
  • How does our picture of God help us resist idolatries?

2. The full, conscious, active participation of all worshipers, as a fully intergenerational community

Worship is not just what ministers, musicians, and other leaders do; it is what all worshipers “do”—through the work of the Spirit in worship. In vital worship, all worshipers are involved in the actions, words, and meaning of worship.

God’s covenant promises endure “from generation to generation.” Worship that arises out of an intentionally intergenerational community, in which people of all ages are welcomed as full participants, and whose participation enriches each other, reflects that worship breaks down barriers of age.

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. . .  And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. . . the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. . . And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Neh. 8:1, 6, 7, 8, 12)

Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. (Ps. 148:12-13)

Related Questions

  • How do worshipers in our community understand the nature of their participation in worship?
  • How do worshipers in our community understand the purpose of their participation in worship?
  • What does participation mean in addition to lay leadership of worship?
  • What could we do as worshipers to prepare to be as involved in the actions and in tune with the meaning of worship as we assume our leaders are?
  • How are we enabling the full, conscious, active participation of all worshipers in our worship?
  • How are we failing to enable the full, conscious, active participation of all worshipers?
  • How can our worship be more intergenerational in its lay leadership?
  • How can our worship be more intergenerational in its participation?
  • How can we better foster intergenerational community?
  • What generational barriers does our culture set or lead us to expect?
  • What generational barriers does our own tradition or history set or lead us to expect?

3. Deep engagement with scripture

The Bible is the source of our knowledge of God and of the world’s redemption in Christ. Worship should include prominent readings of Scripture, and engage worshipers through intentional reading practices, art, and music. It should present and depict God’s being, character, and actions in ways that are consistent with scriptural teaching. It should follow biblical commands about worship practices, and it should heed scriptural warnings about false and improper worship. In particular, Christian worship should be deeply connected to its ancient roots in psalmody.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)

Related Questions

  • How prominent is the reading and teaching of scripture in our worship?
  • How engaging is the reading and teaching of scripture in our worship?
  • What use of art and music could help us better engage worshipers with scripture?
  • How deeply and broadly do we select biblical passages to read, sing, reflect, and preach from?

4. Joyful and solemn celebrations of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

The sacraments are physical signs of God’s nourishing action in creation through the Holy Spirit. In baptism God puts his covenant mark on his children, adopts them into the church, and calls them to a lifetime of dying and rising with Christ. In the Lord’s Supper, God physically and spiritually feeds his people. These celebrations are not just ceremonies, but gifts of grace and signs of God’s ongoing work.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Rom. 6:3-5)

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Cor. 10:16-17)

Related Questions

  • How regularly do we celebrate the sacraments?
  • When we do celebrate the sacraments, how prominent are they in our worship services?
  • How could we do more to nourish a sacramental awareness even (or especially) in services in which they are not held—in preaching, prayers, singing, creeds, professions of faith, and other aspects of worship?
  • Do we treat the font and table with any significance during services in which we’re not using them?
  • How much water do we use in our baptismal font or pool? Could we use more?
  • How would worshipers summarize the theological significance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
  • How could we make worshipers more aware of their own baptism and its personal significance for them?
  • How could we make our celebration of the Lord’s Supper more communal?
  • What are some of the most meaningful celebrations of the sacraments you have experienced?

5. An open and discerning approach to culture

Worship should strike a healthy balance among four approaches or dimensions to its cultural context: worship is transcultural (some elements of worship are beyond culture), contextual (worship reflects the culture in which it is offered), cross-cultural (worship breaks barriers of culture through worship), and counter-cultural (worship resists the idolatries of its cultural context.

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12)

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (Matt. 5:13)

They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; (Rev. 5:9)

Related Questions

  • What aspects of our worship are transcultural?
  • What aspects of our worship are inculturated?
  • What aspects of our worship are cross-cultural?
  • What aspects of our worship are countercultural?
  • Which of these four approaches comes most naturally to our worshiping community?
  • Which comes least naturally?

6. Disciplined creativity in the arts

Worship is enriched by artistic creativity in many genres and media, not as ends to themselves or as open-ended individual inspirations, but all disciplined by the nature of worship as a prophetic and priestly activity.

Then Moses said to the Israelites: See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; he has filled him with divine spirit, with skill, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every kind of work done by an artisan or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and in fine linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of artisan or skilled designer. (Exod. 25:30-35)

Related Questions

  • How are we incorporating the arts into our worship?
  • How are we mediating the danger of not neglecting visual aspects of worship but not idolizing them, either?
  • How can we better incorporate artists into our community, and cultivate the artistic gifts within our worshiping community?

7. Collaboration with all other congregational ministries

Congregational worship is mutually enriching to the full range of congregational ministries, including pastoral care, education, spiritual formation, and witness.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Cor. 12:12)

Related Questions

  • What are some of the ways we are integrating our worship with the full scope of our congregational ministry and life together?
  • How can we better integrate worship into our ministries of evangelism, fellowship, education, pastoral care, and others?

8. Warm, Christ-centered hospitality for all people

A central feature of worship is that it breaks down barriers to welcome all worshipers, including persons with disabilities, those from other cultures, both seekers, lifelong Christians, and others.

Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. (Rom. 12:13)

Related Questions

  • How does our worship currently express hospitality to all worshipers?
  • How does our worship currently express hospitality to those with special needs?
  • How does our worship currently express hospitality to visitors?
  • How can we better express hospitality in our worship?

9. Intentional integration between worship and all of life

Worship fosters natural and dynamic connections between worship and life, so that the worship life of Christian congregations both reflects and shapes lives of grateful obedience, deeply engages with the needs of the world, including such specific areas as restorative justice, care for the earth, and many other areas.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom. 12:1)

Related Questions

  • How does our worship currently express connections between worship and other areas of life?
  • Does our worship foster a sense that our common faith is primarily relevant only in worship, or foster a sense that worship is one aspect—though a very important one—of our service to God?

10. Collaborative planning and evaluation

Worship involves a collaborative process for planning and evaluating services in the context of an adaptive approach to overall congregational leadership.

Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. (Acts 20:28)

Related Questions

  • How collaborative is our current process of worship planning?
  • How collaborative is our current process of worship evaluation?
  • How could our worship planning be more collaborative?
  • How could our worship evaluation be more collaborative?

Jan 25 2011

What Online Worship Resources Are You Using?


Worship Leaders and planners are constantly looking for new resources, supplements, conferences, and short-cuts to help in the preparation and implementation of worship.  The online worship resources list below is obviously not an exhaustive representation of helpful sites.  Adding your favorites to this list will benefit us all.  Click the comments tab under the post title to offer additional suggestions.

Worship/Music Resources and Conferences


Video Resources


Projection and Presentation Resources


Video Conferencing Resources




Dec 1 2010

Does Internal Evaluation Encourage Worship Health?


Internal worship evaluation is an intentional process of enlisting individuals and groups from within your congregation to regularly evaluate present worship practices, structures, and services.  Internal evaluation is already occurring in the halls and parking lots of every congregation.  The key is to intentionally implement a pre-emptive process to encourage worship renewal and not just as a response to worship conflict. 

Advantages to enlisting internal evaluators include:  responses from individuals and groups who already understand the doctrines, philosophies, personnel, and policies of your congregation; evaluations from those who have a vested interest in the process and results; and a greater degree of accountability that evaluation results will be implemented in a timely and benevolent fashion.  One potential disadvantage is that since the evaluators do have a more personal interest, there is a danger of organizational politics entering into the evaluation process.

Implementing an ongoing process of internal evaluation will require a level of humility and shared responsibility from worship leaders.  Leaders must be willing to selflessly share their leadership responsibilities and as a result also share the credit for successes.  Selfless leadership is sacrificing ones own interests for the greater good of the organization.

Consider the following internal evaluation suggestions as a starting point:   


  • Develop a creative team for the purpose of big-picture worship planning and follow-up evaluation.  Include musicians, theologians, technicians, artists, etc.
  • Record multiple videos of platform personnel for the creative team and other groups or individuals to evaluate.
  • Record multiple videos of the congregation before, during, and after worship services to observe how they connect as a community and how they participate in worship.
  • Enlist multi-generational and/or multi-ethnic congregants to respond to specific questions regarding the appropriateness of worship to their generation or culture.
  • Have creative team members and/or selected choir/worship team members sit in various places during worship services for the purpose of responding to questions related to volume, balance, pace, flow, content, etc.
  • Ask trusted congregants to evaluate leaders.  Question prompts could include:   genuineness, preparedness, idiosyncrasies, platform presence, vocal clarity, language clarity, etc.
  • Enlist non-musicians to respond to musical questions.
  • Ask an English teacher or professor to evaluate language and grammar usage of platform leaders.
  • Encourage non-technical congregants to respond to projection, sound, and other technical/logistical questions.
  • Initiate self-evaluations to be shared in staff meetings.
  • Implement regular staff peer to peer evaluations.
  • Methods of evaluation could include:  surveys, questionnaires, telephone interviews, face to face interviews, and on-line responses.
  • Keep it simple.  Do not attempt to evaluate too much at a time.
  • Design questions to minimize the focus on style and personal preferences.  Avoid “I like” or “I don’t like” questions.
  • Ensure questions are not posed for the purpose of manipulation or to provide justification for biases.
  • Ask evaluators to look for strengths as well as deficiencies.

Jul 27 2010

What Are You Reading About Worship?


What are you reading about worship?  Are you reading about worship is probably the more penetrating question.  The words of Eric Hoffer are profound as congregations consider worship renewal and potential change that might be required for that renewal.  Hoffer stated, “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”[1]  When those who lead worship stop learning, they stop leading.  Leaders who lead solely on what they know instead of seeking insights and wisdom from what others know are coasting.  It is much easier to coast…but is it what we are called to do?  A lifelong learner is one who understands that it is never too soon or too late to learn.  So, what are you reading about worship? 

Below is a short list of worship renewal must-reads.  For additional resources please open the Worship Evaluation Reading List link above.  Your responses to this post with additional resources will also help us all. 


Berglund, Brad, Reinventing Sunday:  Breakthrough Ideas for Transforming Worship (Valley Forge: Judson, 2001).  “One of the ways to develop creativity is to experience creativity.  Worship leaders who do not experience worship outside their own environment are limited to their own designs, traditions, and personal church experience.”

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship:  Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003).  “But everything that worship is on the human side is an outpouring of what it means to be created in the image of God.  Worship, in this initial and final sense, is human outpouring to the outpouring of lordship.  Thus, if our theology of God and our theology of imago Dei are correct, our theology of worship will likewise be correct, and we can link continuous outpouring to continuous worship.”   

Byars, Ronald P., The Future of Protestant Worship:  Beyond the Worship Wars (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002).  “The church can exist without denominational bureaucracies, without hierarchies, without buildings, without public approval, and even without degrees granted and official screenings of its future officers, but it cannot exist without worship.”

Carson, Timothy L., Transforming Worship (St. Louis: Chalice, 2003).  “Worship wars may actually be about worship; people do have legitimate concerns and convictions about the way people worship their God.  Just as often, however, these skirmishes reflect a more generalized struggle for power.”

Cherry, Constance M., The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010).  Note:  I have this book ordered and have only read excerpts.  However, anything written by Constance Cherry is a valuable resource.

Clark, Paul B., Jr., Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace: Worship Renewal through Congregational Singing (Nashville: CrossBooks, 2010).  “Congregational song reflects the communal nature of our worship and our oneness in Christ.  The act of such singing serves to sensitize us to the ministry needs and concerns of those in our midst as well as to others for whom we as congregation need to play our role as a royal priesthood; a bridge between God’s truth and hard realities of life.”

Doran, Carol and Thomas H. Troeger, Trouble At the Table:  Gathering the Tribes for Worship (Nashville: Abingdon, 1992).  “The patterns that we encounter in revitalizing worship are symptomatic of a culture that honors feeling more than belief and commitment.”

Frame, John M., Worship in Spirit and Truth:  A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practices of Biblical Worship (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1996).  “When we substitute human ideas (whether past traditions or contemporary notions) for God’s word, the result is bondage to human wisdom.  God’s yoke, though binding, is much easier and lighter.”

Kidd, Reggie M., With One Voice:  Discovering Christ’s Song in Our Worship (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005).  “Authentic Christian faith is not merely believed.  Nor is it merely acted upon.  It is sung – with utter joy sometimes, in uncontrollable tears sometimes, but it is sung.”

Nouwen, Henri J.M., With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1994).  “Communion makes us look at each other and speak to each other, not about the latest news, but about him who walked with us.  We discover each other as people who belong together because each of us now belongs to him.”

Van Dyk, Leanne, Ed., A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2005).  “Worship is, for Christians, both ‘primary school’ and ‘graduate school’ – a place where we are always learning the basics of how to be in true relationship to God and yet also reaching for the advanced skills we need for obedient and faithful Christian lives.”

Webber, Robert E., Ancient-Future Worship:  Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008).  “One crisis of Scripture is that we stand over the Bible and read God’s narrative from the outside instead of standing within the narrative and reading Scripture as an insider.”

Witvliet, John D., Worship Seeking Understanding:  Windows into Christian Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003).  “For comfortable North American worshipers and worship leaders today, the great temptation is to slip into expressions of petition, thanksgiving, and proclamation that are nearly exclusively focused on the present moment.  Perhaps this is an inevitable result of lives and churches that are content with the status quo.”

York, Terry W., and C. David Bolin, The Voice of Our Congregation:  Seeking and Celebrating God’s Song for Us (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005).  “We have forgotten that what worship costs is more important than how worship comforts us or how it serves our agendas.  If worship costs us nothing but is fashioned to comfort our needs and preferences, it may not be worship at all.”


[1] Hoffer, Eric, Reflections on the Human Condition (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), 32.


Mar 24 2010

Blended Worship: In Our Attempts to Please All Are We Pleasing None?


BLEND:  To combine or associate so that the separate constituents or the line of demarcation cannot be distinguished.

Has blended worship become a watered down musical expression reminiscent of the ‘80’s pop style of Air Supply?  Has this generic approach to the mixing of musical genres contributed to a worship expression where neither side of the musical spectrum is ever really happy?  Has our desire for worship relevance created a bland mixture of worship elements that no longer resembles what it started out as?

Most congregations define blended worship as the mixing of traditional hymns, praise and worship songs, and possibly a few visual elements such as drama and video.  Churches have chosen to move to a blended service in an effort to reach multi-generations or to stave off the exodus of younger church members to congregations with more lively music.  In an effort to remain relevant, these moves are sometimes based on the observed success of congregations considered more contemporary in their musical approach.

Robert Webber recognized that there are three predominant group responses to this uncertain worship culture.  The first group wants worship to be as it was.  Their response is to resist change and the incorporation of new.  The second response is that traditional is irrelevant and new is significant.  Webber offered a third option that respects tradition, while implementing worship styles formed by contemporary culture.  This convergence worship begins with a willingness to reopen all discussions related to worship.[1]  Webber continued with the explanation, “convergence worship is an alternative worship that is concerned for order and freedom, the historical and the contemporary, the verbal and the symbolic.[2]  How much more profound is this understanding of convergence worship as opposed to blended worship which becomes an exercise of balancing musical selections in an effort to please everyone and in reality never completely pleasing anyone?  Convergence worship is the occurrence when Kairos (God’s time) meets Chronos (chronological time).

Webber outlined the following characteristics of Convergence Worship:

  • Worship is constantly in the process of reform.
  • The entire worshiping community has much to teach us.
  • The past has much to contribute to the present.
  • Convergence is committed to a broad range of musical content and style. 
  • It is committed to a recovery of the arts in worship.
  • Affirms an acceptance of the Verbal and Symbolic Word.
  • Understands that worship is both rational and mystical.
  • Worship is personal and corporate.  God meets the church but he also meets me.
  • Worship is both giving and receiving.
  • Convergence worship is also both comforting and disturbing.
  • Discourages passive and encourages participative worship.

Instead of believing true worship began and will end with my generation we must be reminded that worship is portrayed in the scripture as being cumulative.  We seem to have forgotten that “earlier centuries of Christians faced equally shocking and shaking developments.  We forget the innovative and sometimes heroic ways they adapted and often flourished.  By remembering, we can avoid the inclination toward either excessive self-congratulation or undue self-pity.”[3]  Webber reminded us that our past led us through the present and will continue to lead us into the future.  Worship reform will commence when we agree to regularly evaluate our liturgy in light of biblical and theological parameters, not on the basis of feelings, style, or mechanics.  Since we are not the first to experience this clash of culture and generation we must be reminded that “worship is not created; it is discovered and recreated.”[4]  Worship renewal is a continuation as well as a modification.

Moving beyond the simple formula of blending a few praise songs and hymns is a difficult and painful process.  Worship renewal through a deeper understanding of biblical and historical foundations must occur to curb random sampling of various styles.  Considering the deeper issues of convergence worship instead of the secondary stylistic and mechanistic elements of blended worship will help encourage worship renewal in our congregations.  Transition is often a painful process but if the ultimate gain is transformation, it will be worth the effort.  We have forgotten that “what worship costs is more important than how worship comforts us or how it serves our agendas.  If worship costs us nothing but is fashioned to comfort our needs and preferences, it may not be worship at all.”[5]

For additional understanding of Webber’s Worship Convergence see “Ancient-Future Worship” and “The Complete Library of Christian Worship.”



[1] Robert E. Webber, ed., The Complete Library of Christian Worship Vol. 3, “The Renewal of Sunday Worship”  (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993), 122.

[2] Ibid., 124.

[3] Timothy L. Carson, Transforming Worship (St. Louis: Chalice, 2003), 1.

[4] Berglund, Reinventing Sunday, xvii.

[5] Ibid., 112.


Mar 9 2010

Must Worship Always Be So Happy? The Language of Lament Part 2


HOPE FOR THE FUTURE – The Language of Lament – Part 2

If worshiping communities will only achieve their best by offering God their worst, how is this accomplished in your worship culture?

I stated in last weeks post that we must persistently remind one another that God expects our language of lament and is not threatened by it.  The difficulty occurs when we consider implementing this language in our worship culture of positive thinking, upbeat language, praise psalms only, and songs in major keys.  Several suggestions to begin the implementation dialog are offered below.  The list is not complete…all of us would benefit from your added recommendations in replies to this post.

  • Lament must be modeled by leaders.

Modeling will require leaders not just to preach, teach, and sing about the psalms of lament, but to live them.  In response, congregations must allow leaders the transparency needed for this to be accomplished.  When leaders introduce lament to a worshiping community through the articulation of common experience, the sorrow that worshipers share validates the pain.  Martha Freeman reminds us that, “Tears can enhance our vision, giving us new eyes that discern traces of the God who suffers with us.  There is comfort in those tears.  They bring fresh understanding that God is nearby, sharing our humanity in all its bitterness and all its blessedness.”[1]  When leaders model transparency it gives congregants permission to express similar vulnerabilities.

  • When we are at a loss for words we must be reminded that a text has been prepared for us in the Psalms.

The traditional pattern of palatable psalm selections must also include the use of more plaintive language, which permeates the psalms.  It is ironic that our worship culture so rabidly defends the Word as foundational to our faith and practice, yet limits its use only to pleasing text that does not offend.  Does God need us to filter His Word?  If God’s Word can’t stand on its own is it as authoritative as we claim it to be?  And if it can’t stand on its own are we arrogant to assume we can protect it by sifting through the text.  When instances of oppression, disaster, and violence threaten to consume us, the psalmist gives words to express our most profound despair.  When our hymns and songs fall short with clichéd platitudes, the lament psalms provide hope beyond unexpressed emotions.  When we are angry at God and are afraid to verbalize that anger out loud, He has given us the words.  If we are to reclaim the psalms of lament as a vital part of our worship experience we must agree that their use is not limited to those portions which are comfortable.  John Witvliet reminds us that, “when faced with an utter loss of words and an oversupply of volatile emotions, we best rely not on our own stuttering speech, but on the reliable and profoundly relevant laments of the Hebrew Scriptures.”[2]

  • Consider praying the Psalms

A meaningful approach is to pray a lament psalm corporately in response to a specific lamentable situation.  Psalm praying gives voice to the timid and unity to the body.  When disaster occurs, violence strikes, or health declines, we must be prepared for an immediate response in our corporate worship.  Praying the psalms of lament takes us deeper much quicker than we are comfortable going on our own.  Eugene Peterson in Answering God reminds us that, “Left to ourselves, we will pray to some god who speaks what we like hearing, or to the part of God we manage to understand. But what is critical is that we speak to the God who speaks to us…the Psalms train us in that conversation.”[3]  This profound text can be embellished through silence, hymns, songs, and other meditations.

  • Consider implementing lament beyond contrition.

If we have participated at all in lament in our public and private worship practices, it has been in the area of sorrow and despair over our sinful nature.  We model this through our practice of the Lord’s Supper as a memorial only.  We lament the price Jesus paid for our sin.  This response to the Lord’s Supper is one response but not every response to this ordinance.  Additional Lord’s Supper suggestions for worship renewal will be presented in future posts.  We are more comfortable with contrition, since we can admit that our struggle is something we caused and there is no one to blame but ourselves.  This alleviates our discomfort and fear of faithlessness of questioning God in our lament language.  Contrition in response to our sinful nature is a necessity.  We also must consider that lament in response to circumstances beyond our control is also necessary. 

  • Consider Ember Days or other special days of observance.

In response to the concerns of the world, Christians historically observed quarterly times of reflection, prayer, and fasting for the various needs of their culture called Ember Days.  Congregations who have experienced significant loss could set aside specific days of observance utilizing a liturgy of lament.  The experience is more meaningful and the lament is more profound when the observance is in response to events which have impacted us personally.  Some worship cultures have not traditionally embraced the Christian calendar primarily out of a concern of rigidity, conformity, loss of autonomy, or fear of appearing too liturgical.  Yet, even as those congregations eschew the recognition of the Christian calendar, they affirm the annual observance of cultural and denominational days whose foundations are not always biblically grounded.[4]  Observing Ember Days may be a stretch for some worship cultures who disregard worship practices outside of their tradition.  Setting aside special days to pray and fast for the lamentable needs of our culture is much more important than what we call them.

  • Consider writing and singing songs which help congregations express despair.

Until recently, writers and composers continued the trend of writing only happy and celebratory lyrics and tunes.  Some hopeful changes have occurred recently in response to the ongoing tragedies of life that are no longer possible to ignore.  Since doubt is a part of our lives, the move toward honesty in our worship is becoming more prevalent.  Texts set in a plaintive melody such as “Lord, hear our cry, come heal our land.  Breathe life into these dry and thirsty souls” offer an opportunity for congregations to cry out corporately.[5]  In An Open Letter to Worship Songwriters, Brian McLaren offers the following commentary, “Pain should find its way into song, and these songs should find their way into our churches.  The bitter will make the sweet all the sweeter; without the bitter, the sweet can become cloying, and too many of our churches feel, I think, like Candyland.  Is it too much to ask that we be more honest?  Since doubt is part of our lives, since pain and waiting and as-yet unresolved disappointment are part of our lives, can’t these things be reflected in the songs of our communities?  Doesn’t endless singing about celebration lose its vitality (and even its credibility) if we don’t also sing about the struggle?”

Walter Brueggemann suggests that, “in a society that is increasingly shut down in terms of public speech, the church in all of its pastoral practices may be the community where the silenced are authorized to voice.”[6]  The reality of life is that it moves through seasons where orientation has collapsed and disorientation cannot be avoided.  The experience is one of darkness, hopelessness, anger, and despair.  We are missing the biblical model of moving from despair to hope when we continue to sing songs of orientation in an effort to ward off the darkness of disorientation.  Adding the language of lament to worship liturgy will encourage personal and congregational transition from this disorientation to re-orientation. 







[1] Martha Freeman, “Has God Forsaken Us?” The Covenant Companion (November 2001): 8.

[2] John D. Witvliet, “A Time to Weep: Liturgical Lament in Times of Crisis,” Reformed Worship 44 (June 1977): 22.

[3] Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms As Tools for Prayer (San Francisco: Harper, 1989), 3.

[4] Timothy L. Carson, Transforming Worship  (St. Louis: Chalice, 2003), 56.

[5] Jared Anderson, Hear Us from Heaven (Vertical Worship Songs, 2004).

[6] Walter Brueggemann, “Voice as Counter to Violence” Calvin Theological Journal 36 (April 2001): 25.