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Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice Hardcover – October 1, 2009
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From the Back Cover
"Christ-Centered Worship calls people to go beyond 'contemporary worship' without being polemical in spirit. It takes historic worship traditions very seriously but uses the gospel itself as the way to critique and design orders of worship. It is full, balanced, and extremely practical. This will now be the first book I give people--or turn to myself--on the practice of understanding, planning, and leading in corporate worship."
--Tim Keller, senior pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church; author of The Reason for God
"[This] book rich in theory and application provides a top resource for worship leaders, directors, pastors, or anyone involved in planning corporate worship. It connects us to worship history and helps us think more clearly about what exactly we communicate in the context of worship. Chapell gives us a template and vocabulary for thinking about, planning, and evaluating our worship."
--Andrea Hunter, Worship Leader
"So many books about worship unfortunately assume that the structure or pattern of worship is not important, failing to realize that some pattern is inevitable and that no pattern is neutral. This book is a wonderful exception. It radiates with gratitude for the gospel of Jesus. It promotes both confessional orthodoxy and vital piety. But it also probes how well-grounded patterns and structures can become wellsprings for faithful, sustainable, and vibrant worship renewal."
--John D. Witvliet, director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary
"Chapell's superb book Christ-Centered Preaching has become one of the standard texts on preaching in evangelical seminaries. Church leaders now can welcome a parallel volume. . . . Chapell has pressed the church to re-think its approach to worship and reminded us that worship is not about us and our preferences--it is about Christ and His glory."
--Michael Duduit, Preaching
"Truly exceptional. . . . Alongside his brief survey of the history of liturgy, accompanied by some magnificent charts, Chapell provides worship resources for those who want to dip Sunday services more into the liturgical practices of the Church."
--Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed blog
About the Author
Bryan Chapell (PhD, Southern Illinois University) is senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois, as well as president emeritus at Covenant Theological Seminary and distinguished professor of preaching at Knox Theological Seminary. He is a widely traveled speaker and the author of numerous books, including Christ-Centered Preaching and Christ-Centered Sermons.
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The second section continues by developing the practice of Christ-centered worship. The writer describes how "traditional" and "contemporary" churches (terms which the author expresses some distaste for) might carry out each of these elements in their worship. Chapell also includes a section on the communion which is quite insightful as well as a section on musical styles, which serves to reemphasize points made in the first section of the book. The book closes with a number of worship resources on the internet, which will be quite helpful to the music pastor or worship leader of any church.
The purpose of the book is best stated by the author himself: "My intention has not been to take sides in the traditional/contemporary worship debate or to try to mandate a liturgy for all churches. Rather my goal has been to encourage church leaders to identify their churches' specific calling as the basis for making decisions about worship approaches and resources that may be traditional, contemporary, or something even better." (154)
Christ-Centered Worship is just as revolutionary, if not more so, than Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. The book is also just as practical as the author's inspirational title Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength. The book serves as an academic, yet practical look at worship and liturgy. The writer's conclusions are able to be implemented in churches regardless of worship style and serve only to strengthen the substance of their worship. If truly implemented across the breadth of evangelical Christianity, what has been a major barrier to fellowship would fall and would actually become a bridge to fellowship. Truly the reader, regardless of worship background, baggage, and convictions will not be disappointed as Chapell's insights do not fail to instruct and guide the attentive reader to, as he states: "something better."
In Christ Centered Worship by Bryon Chapell, a well-known theologian, we are taken on a journey to investigate the worship practices and service outlines from church history. It is through this investigation that Chapell shows us that from the earliest inception of the organized church there has been a common story to tell in worship; the story of God. He points out that corporate worship is a model of our personal journey, a continuation of our daily conversation with God that is brought to a grander scale when believers gather.
In one area of the book Chapell writes that worship can be seen in two simple words and how we respond to these words. The words: Glory and Grace. God reveals His glory, we are given the chance to respond. God reveals His grace, we are given the chance to accept and then respond through a surrendered life.
As I read through the first part of the book I was waiting for the `shoe to drop.' As Chapell exposes history I was waiting for him to say we needed to get back to the old ways, follow the liturgy of the historical church, including the songs and style of days gone by. The `shoe never fell.'
Chapell simply stated that it is not about style but about the story of God and how we expose the pieces of the story in worship and allow our congregations to respond. Chapell even gives examples of how contemporary songs and other elements can be used in the telling of the story.
If I were teaching young worship leaders I would use this book as a required text book. We learn from the history and we are challenged to begin the worship planning process by asking the question: `how will we tell the story of God, The Gospel, in this service.