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Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel Paperback – March 31, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“I have read and heard preached a ton on the reality that ‘all of life is worship.’ It is and I wouldn’t want to argue that point, but what about when the covenant people of God gather together? Are there not some ways God desires us to worship corporately that can differ from how we worship in ‘all of life’? Mike has served the church well with Rhythms of Grace. I was both convicted and compelled as I read it.”
Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network; author, The Mingling of Souls

“Mike Cosper is uniquely gifted as both a musician and a pastor to speak into the culture where art and church meet and mesh. This is an important book for folks thinking about what it is to be a musician, a worship leader, and everything in between. The historic question of how we worship on Sunday and with our lives is an important one to keep asking because the songs we sing have the power to shape who we are and who we will become as individuals and as a community.”
Sandra McCracken, singer-songwriter

“Years ago, A. W. Tozer remarked that worship was the missing jewel of the evangelical church. Since that time, evangelicals have been engaged in an urgent and sometimes feverish struggle to determine the nature of true biblical worship. In Rhythms of Grace, Mike Cosper takes us back to first principles and roots his understanding of worship deeply within the context of the Christian gospel. This is a book that will offer much to Christians and church leaders seeking to understand worship. It is both biblical and deeply practical, and it is written by an author who has deep experience in the worship life of a thriving and faithful congregation.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Mike’s Rhythms of Grace was like sitting across the table from someone you need to be listening to. In this season of the Church, there is some confusion on why and what a worship leader is and does. This book brings great clarity to that confusion. As someone who aims to see song leaders become worship leaders and worship leaders become worship pastors, I found this to be a key read. This will be an important piece in training new leaders, and a great reminder to more seasoned leaders, to sing the gospel and above all, highlight Jesus.”
Charlie Hall, Worship and arts director, Frontline Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“I know of no one more insightful on questions of worship than Mike Cosper, and I know of no one more gifted to articulate a Christ-focused, Kingdom-directed, Spirit-driven sense of what it means to worship in the presence of the triune God. Read this book and see if it does not drive you to re-pattern your worship to fit the full rejoicing, lamenting, raging force of the biblical adoration of the triune God.”
Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Onward

“When Mike Cosper writes, I read. And even though I'm not a pastor and don't play the guitar, I learned a lot from him about how the gospel of grace shapes our rhythms of congregational worship. Pick up this book and benefit from his biblical wisdom and pastoral experience.”
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots

“This book challenges worship leaders not merely to announce a gospel of grace in Jesus Christ, but to begin to discover how that gospel reshapes every dimension and element of worship. It invites readers into a world where theology and practice, belief and action are intimately intertwined—where every practice reflects and then reinforces a theological vision, and every doctrine both grounds and sharpens practices. Who better to offer this challenge and invitation than a reflective practitioner who considers it a joy to discern the implications of this gospel of grace for a host of practical concerns, week by week, year by year?”
John D. Witvliet, Director, Professor, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

“The story of the Gospel is one that must be emphasized again and again in worship. In Rhythms of Grace, Mike Cosper outlines the narrative of our hope, the order of our praise and importance of our worship to every gathering of believers.”
Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom

“I can’t overstate my excitement about Mike Cosper’s new book, Rhythms of Grace. This practical volume represents the many years my good friend has spent in serious theological reflection, doxological engagement, and faithful service in the Body of Christ—at Sojourn Church and well beyond. Mike’s passion for God’s glory and God’s worship are evidenced on every page. In particular, I’m thankful for how Mike helps us plan our services of worship in light of the history of redemption and the riches of God’s grace. Liturgy isn’t a four-letter word; it’s the storyboard, which helps us connect with God’s commitment to redeem people, places and things, through the person and work of Jesus. I will use Mike’s tremendous book in the seminary classes I teach on worship; but I will also place it in the hands of seasoned worship leaders and young congregants alike. Thanks dear brother, for your art and heart!”
Scotty Smith, Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee

“The greatest composers are gifted synthesizers. They have the ability to weave what they’ve heard and learned and experienced in the past into their own musical story. If Rhythms of Grace were a symphony, the critics would hail it as a masterful work of synthesis—a fusion of biblical, historical, cultural and philosophical elements into an engaging, challenging and thoughtful treatment of worship. At the end of this work, you’ll also be able to sing the primary thematic motive—the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Joseph Crider, Senior Associate Dean, School of Church Ministries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“For the glory and enjoyment of God, the health of the church, and the spread of the gospel—this is why you should read Rhythms of Grace, by Mike Cosper. Inside this book Mike proves to be a good pastor giving us a practical theology of worship that cautions against and corrects error, while shepherding us toward a more biblically faithful understanding and experience of worship in the church gathered and scattered.”
Joe Thorn, author, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself; Lead Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship, St. Charles, Illinois

“An important contribution to the discussion among many younger evangelicals about worship and liturgy. Mike writes with grace, and a wisdom beyond his years. Frankly, I am amazed by the amount of ground he manages to cover! Mike introduces many to ideas and thinkers that all in the evangelical world should know. Mike has set a lofty goal, painting a picture of liturgy as a beautiful way, and I believe he succeeds. For anyone nervous about exploring the world of liturgy, Mike is a gentle and wise companion.”
Kevin Twit, Campus Minister, RUF; Founder, Indelible Grace Music

“Mike Cosper has written a book that is both easily accessible and also deeply challenging for anyone who wants to see worship flourish in their congregation. Rhythms of Grace is a must-read—especially for church musicians and pastors who desire to deepen in their understanding of how worship shapes and forms individuals and communities.”
Isaac Wardell, Founder, Bifrost Arts

“For many churches, having a well thought out approach to how to lead music is woefully lacking. This needs to change, and this book will surely help. Rhythms of Grace will be a book that I will rely on in the future to develop music leaders for our church and the churches we plant. Clear, beautifully written, theologically grounded yet very practically helpful, and completely gospel-centered—this is a book for pastors and music leaders alike. In fact, I would get two copies so that pastors and musicians can read it together!”
Zach Nielson, Pastor, The Vine Church

About the Author

Mike Cosper is one of the founding pastors of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as the pastor of worship and arts. He is the founder of Sojourn Music and contributes regularly to the Gospel Coalition blog, where he writes about worship and culture. He is the author of Rhythms of Grace and The Stories We Tell and coauthor of Faithmapping.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (March 31, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433533421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433533426
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In Rhythms of Grace, Mike guides us through a biblical history and theology of worship, from the Garden of Eden to the wilderness, the period of temple worship, and the coming of Jesus.

Then he unveils his "Worship One, Two Three" paradigm, showing that worship has:

One Object and Author: God
Two Contexts: The Church Scattered and the Church Gathered
Three Audiences: God, The Church (each other), and the World

When we understand this, a lot of the practical and theological questions disappear. We stop arguing whether to sing songs to God or to sing them about God (the answer is "both"). We stop arguing whether worship service planning should focus on our church family or the "seeker's" in our community (both).

Perhaps the most contentious part of Rhythms of Grace will be Mike's critique of the Temple Model of worship service planning (often called the Wimber Model, after John Wimber, one of the founders of the Vineyard movement). I won't go into the argument here, but urge you -- no matter where you stand in this debate now -- to read Mike's critique with an open mind.

You'll also find a full description of "liturgy" that will take the mystery out of that term and teach you how to craft services that repeatedly "tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love" (to borrow a phrase from the hymn "I Love To Tell The Story"). He ends with a chapter devoted specifically to singing, and a chapter on "The Pastoral Worship Leader.
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Format: Paperback
Donald Hustad, longtime professor of church music at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, once wrote, "Through the years, there has been a continuing (and perhaps, healthy) tension between these two forces--formal worship versus freedom of style" (Jubilate II, 215). Mike Cosper's new book pleads for thoughtful worship-service planning that derives its shape and goals from the gospel. Rhythms of Grace is invaluable to the service planner seeking introduction to the merits of formal liturgical patterns, and I absolutely will use it in the undergraduate classes I teach. Many of my students begin with worship service paradigms borrowed from concert or stage venues, and their worship service orders revolve around tempos and keys rather than deep gospel truths. While few liturgical writers appeal to them, Cosper will hit them right between the eyes.
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Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Author: Mike Cosper

Publisher: Crossway

Pages: 222

Mike Cosper serves as the pastor of worship & arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. He is one of the founding pastors at Sojourn as well as the founder of Sojourn Music. You can find his regular contributions to the Gospel Coalition Blog.

This new book (content: worship) is an instant classic, in my opinion. Decades from now, this book will still be making waves in the truths of the gospel. The book is gospel-saturated written by a "gospel-saturated man" (p.11 - B. Kauflin).

From the moment I turned the first page, I struggled to put this text down. It is that rich with gospel truth & gospel history. The reason I mention history is because the first 4 chapters are a SOLID running commentary on the gospel throughout the Old Testament & Jesus' fulfillment of the law & shedding full light on the gospel to all people.

When the term "gospel-centered" is mentioned, one may easily tend to think of complex theology & deep truths. However, gospel-centeredness is rather simple. What happens to often is that; "You deal with the gospel when you become a Christian, and then you move on to bigger things as you mature" (Cosper). However, Cosper implies (from cover to cover) that there is no bigger thing than the gospel. Therefore, the author's premise is gospel remembrance.

"We gather (to worship corporately) to remember our identity-shaping story, and send one another back into the wider world, allowing that story to shape us as we go" (Cosper).

Never getting over the gospel & allowing the gospel to reframe & reform your life is exactly what gospel-centeredness is.
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I lived in Louisville for five years while attending Southern Seminary and have seen, first-hand, the ministry of Mike Cosper. I was very excited to get a copy of his book and read it as soon as it arrived.
After reading "Rhythms of Grace," I can say it was all I thought it would be and more. Not only does Mike share his thoughts on music ministry in the church, but he gives a concise history of worship in the church. This book was both educational and practical. His balanced approach to some of the "hottest" topics in the current "Worship wars" is insightful and helpful.

Rhythms of Grace gave me a framework to assist me in planning worship services that proclaim the gospel to Christians and non-Christians alike. It will be a resource that I will continually go back to in teaching others and in my personal ministry work. I'm thankful for this resource and appreciate Mike Cosper's thoughtful and pastoral approach to music ministry in the church.

I am planning on purchasing copies for my pastor and our worship team; I would urge anyone involved in local church ministry to do the same.
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