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on March 5, 2013
Along with the accompanying album (link below), this book unites Glenn Packiam's experience as a worship leader, a theologian, and a pastor, and reflects his own journey of discovering the historic Christian theology of worship.

For centuries, corporate Christian liturgy was designed to tell a story--to reflect the narrative of salvation. It moved through moments of praise and declaration, to confession and repentance, and culminated in the climactic moment of the Eucharist, the mystery of remembering and entering into Christ's work (past, present, and future) and receiving new grace into our weakness. It was profoundly Christ-centric, based on the belief that the WAY we worship is important because it shapes how we believe.

This book explores six key moments of the worship narrative:
1. Celebration: Why We Rejoice
2. Proclamation: Tethered to Our Story
3. Invocation: The Personal Presence of God
4. Confession: Finding the God of Mercy
5. Invitation: Turning to One Another
6. Eucharist: Embracing the Mystery of Faith

From the forward by Ian Cron:

As I travel the country, it’s clear that a much-needed shift is taking place. Worship leaders are exhausted. The weekly pressure to plan and deliver innovative, seismically moving, crowd-attracting worship services is unsustainable.
Essential and far-reaching questions are surfacing: is contemporary worship compassing people toward a transfiguring encounter with God or pandering to our culture’s addiction to peak experiences, entertainment, and celebrity? Has the word relevant become code for “keep the consumer satisfied”? Do services designed around themes address the longings of people in search of a narrative that will make sense of their lives? Have we become more focused on “Lights, Camera, Action,” than on “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”?
More importantly, might reclaiming the liturgical practices and theology of worship of the early church help guide our course correction?
In this marvelous primer, Glenn Packiam proves he is an important voice in this emerging conversation. In a theologically rich, gracious, yet clear-eyed way, he addresses these questions and many more. It couldn’t be timelier. Anyone who cares about worship and the contemporary church would be wise to read, mark, and learn from its pages.

This ebook and the accompanying album open the richness of an intentional, narrative-driven, mystery-filled worship expression to a new audience. I highly recommend both to everyone, especially anyone who is interested in the rich history of the faith and the discussion of why the way we worship matters.

(Find the accompanying album here:
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on April 9, 2013
In this short book Glenn tried to pack in a lot of ideas. His argument, as I remember it, was that the content and structure of our worship experience points us into the direction with God wherein our faith can be informed. Glenn also felt that much of the contemporary worship scene did not have enough content to nourish our faith.

There seems to be many voices today encouraging us to get back to the tried and true essentials in worship such as communion, reciting of the creeds, psalms, and the Lord's prayer. Glenn adds his voice to this roster, which, to his way of thinking goes all the way back to the first centuries of Christianity.

My only reservation is the one I have with all who share from this perspective. I feel that not enough emphasis is placed on the NT teaching about worship and too much emphasis is placed on the early church fathers. The result is that too much of a magical world view and too much of a hierarchical view of leadership comes along with the "fathers".

On the upside I really liked the idea that if we based our service on contemporary music, we have to have great musicians to pull it off. If we base our service structure on the sermon, we have to have a great "sermonator" If we base it on the Eucharist, we already have a great Lord! Jesus then becomes the center, not us or our talents. This is something for me to chew on for years to come.
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on September 10, 2013
This book make some real good points about liturgical worship, corporate prayer, and praying from a prayer book. The thing that confuses me is how someone can read the Fathers, pick what they like, leave the rest, and be okay with that. The author speaks much about the Council of Nicea, and the Creed that came out of it, but only takes what what he wants from it. He praises the ancientness of the Eastern Orthodox Liturgy, but then feels the need to come up with his own version. If we want to be a part of the ancient church, her practices, theology, teachings, and Mysteries should be non-negotiable. If we truly trust the early Bishops that gave us the Creed, the Councils, and the New Testament Cannon, then we should humble ourselves to accept the whole of their teachings, and not cherry pick what we like. I think he is close, but taking a dish from the Roman Catholics, a cup from the Anglicans, a tray from the Protestant reformers, and utensils from the Orthodox seems like cafeteria Christianity to me.
Having said that, I would still recommend this book for someone interested in the worship of the Early Church. Then i would suggest they follow it up with a book called 'Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells' by Matthew Galitan.
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on March 19, 2013
If I could get this book in the hands of thousands of church leaders and lay people, I would! It is just that important. I've been involved in church and worship music my who life and I've gotten lost several times. Most recently, what has helped me find my way again was reconnecting with the rich heritage and tradtions that are a part of the Church. I used to think I could do church by myself, but I know now that I am connected to something much bigger. Glenn has writen a primer on what it looks like to find a treasure that has been overlooked and cast aside. It's the type of book I wish I would have read 10 years ago! But thankfully God has helped to teach me some of the same truths that Glenn shares in this short but powerful book. It is a great read! It will sit right next to my books by N.T. Wright,Eugene Peterson and other great theologians of our day...
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on March 10, 2013
I love this book. I wish every pastor and every worship leader would read it. Let us return to the sacred truths that have have sustained and built our faith for two centuries.
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on March 11, 2013
After being involved in modern worship in a progressive Church for the last decade and utilizing music from the worship movement in our services (including songs written by the author), I found this a refreshing take - that worship historically has been planned, structured, meditated on and is actually how our faith is shaped. I believe that the thought and reflection that has gone into this project will help lead many worshipers to a more intimate encounter with God.
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VINE VOICEon May 5, 2014
I love my (non-denominational mega) church. But I also have been exploring the liturgy of more sacramental traditions. I am attempting to regularly use the Book of Common Prayer devotionally. And I would love it if there was a local church that did the morning prayer service daily so I could participate. (But as far as I can tell, there is not one in my immediate area.)

So I started the book already on Packiam’s side (especially since I had read his earlier book Lucky.) Over the past several months I have been following Packiam on twitter (since the article on his church in Christianity Today) and was pleased (and interested) to hear that he is pursuing Anglican ordination.

Part of what makes Packiam’s story interesting is that he was an Evangelical insider. He is a Pastor at a large megachurch (but has started a new site that mostly followed an Anglican Liturgy while still in a part of the megachurch.) He is a songwriter and was a part of the Desperation Band and has several solo albums. But he also studied theology (he pursuing a PhD at St John’s College at Durham University in the UK) and worked through issues around liturgy and leading worship. He (and many others) are realizing that modern worship has lost something in its attempt to modernize.

Discover the Mystery of Faith doesn’t have anything particularly new. Robert Weber was writing about some of these issues 20 years ago, James KA Smith has a philosophically oriented project looking at liturgy as a means of spiritual formation and there are a number of stories of conversion to Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy or Anglicanism that speak of the depth of the liturgy as an important feature of their moving from Evangelicalism to sacramental Christian stream.

What is helpful here is that Packiam is writing from the perspective of someone that is leading a church. And from someone that is heavily involved in an active and thriving Evangelical worship ministry. It is not that he has hit a crisis point, but that in looking for more this became an area he was interested in enough that he has continued to pursue it for a while now.

His church experiment is still new. The New Life Downtown site is just two years old. But I think it is a precursor to other similar experiments that will be happening around the country. Eddie Kirkland, a worship leader at North Point, as well as many of the other worship leaders at North Point have started planting a new Anglican congregation in the Atlanta area called The Parish. Scot McKnight, at Northern Baptist Seminary Professor and long time member of Willow Creek was ordained into the Anglican church this past weekend.

As an outsider to any of these groups, I welcome this movement. But I am somewhat cautious. To the extent that this encourages a deeper look at Christian history and liturgy I am excited. I am also encouraged by the greater look at liturgy as an important part of discipleship. But I am concerned that it may be the new hipster fad of Evangelicalism. There have been a number of articles about ‘a vast movement’. That seems to over play what is really going on. What seems to be going on is a small movement of deeply involved (often somewhat intellectually oriented) Evangelicals that sees real value in the historical traditions of Anglican Book of Common Prayer but still have theological and/or ecclesiological issues with the Roman Catholic Church.

As a book (which I really haven’t spoken much about) Discover the Mystery of Faith is useful as one particular story in the real (but small) movement. And as such, it is a useful book if you are interested in the stream. When he is talking about his own journey and worship he is at his best. As with anyone that is trying to correct a movement, he spends some time critiquing modern worship. And he does this from the perspective of an insider, but some of the critique I think is stronger (or maybe more particular in context) than warranted.

There is also a couple of historical and other minor errors (Nicene Council did not confirm or close the biblical canon, although that one is so popular a misconception it has its own sub-article on Wikipedia.)

I did like this summary toward the end of the book of why corrective movements are both necessary and often problematic, which gives a sense of desire for the book:

"These movements were probably the necessary correctives in their day. Like the reforms in worship that took place in the late medieval Church—from the Protestant Reformations to the Catholic reforms that followed—these movements had as their aim a revitalized spiritual life for local congregations. Just as Latin liturgies in rural Europe in the fourteen hundreds were strange and unintelligible to the laity, so cold, prewritten prayers felt worlds away from the turbulent realities of the ’60s and ’70s. Let’s write our own prayers, someone said. Better still, let’s write our own songs. After all, songs are just prayers set to music, right? There are always unintended consequences that come with every movement, even a revival. Decades after the first pure flames of earnest passion, generations after the inspirational leader, come the bastardized versions of things, a cheap imitation of the ideal or the theology that began the revolution. Someone will miss the heart of the movement and build a theology out of a tangential theme, like a bad cover band playing a reggae version of a classic rock song."
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on May 13, 2013
I have been a leader in worship gatherings for 30 years. Some of that leadership is musical. Much of it is not. Over those years, I have seen worship trends come and go and many people claiming they have the secret elixir to cure the ills where the church has got corporate worship wrong. One of those trends has been a cry to return to liturgical worship in various forms (creeds, chants, common prayers, latin, etc). I have many friends who have lead their churches down this path with varying results. And, liturgical worship seems to be what a lot of the cool kids are doing these days. So, I was hesitant to read this book thinking it might be another one of those books full of obnoxious chatter--pointing the finger at every church congregation that has not yet discovered the "true" meaning of corporate worship. A few of my friends read the book and said it was good but I still had no desire to read it. Then, I heard Glenn speak at Luminous Project in Franklin, TN. I loved his style. He was kind. And genuine. He had great historical references. Meaningful stories. A love for scripture. I picked up the book and read it in one easy sitting. Glenn's writing is humorous, thoughtful, full of good stories, and he connects dots well. The jury is still deliberating for me in regard to congregational liturgical worship in my own setting but Glenn did a better job of making a case for its rightful place than any other author I have read in recent years. And, I was very happy the book wasn't served with a side order of guilt or shame or haughtiness (some preferred side dishes of books on worship methodologies). I loved the book's big idea that worship "shapes" our faith as opposed to it being a simple expression. I also appreciated Glenn's observations on context and indigenous expression, knowing your people, etc. as opposed to giving us a prescription. Thanks, Glenn.
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on January 24, 2014
The corporate act of worship shapes us and forms us in the faith in ways we may not realize. As such, pastors and worship leaders would do well to be mindful of the rhythms of worship they employ; the music, language, and liturgies they use to shepherd the flock. This book is a simple, faithful, and accessible reflection from a young pastor seeking to do just that, while drawing from the deep wells of faithful believers and traditions that tether us back to Jesus Christ, The Lord of the Church. This book is also a great primer for any disciple looking to better understand the corporate service/act of worship. Kirkegaard once remarked that our services of worship have taken on the form of a "theater," whereby the preacher is the "actor" and the musicians the "prompter" and the congregation the "audience." Glenn Packiam helps us remember that God is the audience of our worship, that we are the principle actors as we gather (participants rather than consumers) and that the musicians/pastors/etc. are the ones who prompt our attention to Christ, the firstborn of all creation. Read the book, then buy the CD that goes with this as it is a faithful attempt to put to music what the author spells out in this book.
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on March 24, 2013
I love the way Glenn Packiam's books challenge me with fresh perspective. He often puts in words thoughts I've recognized but not nailed down. I was challenged afresh to focus my worship leading, to take another look at songs we sing, to be more intentional, to explore the mystery rather than seeking to have all the answers. Glenn's writing style is easy to read, realistic about where we live, and founded in Scripture. I was also pleased that he said what needed to be said and was done. A book doesn't have to be eternal to speak eternal truth. :-) Thanks, Glenn!
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