Posted January 18, 2013 by Jeremy Armstrong in WL Picks

Top 20 Books of the Past 20 Years

Our publisher Chuck Fromm is a voracious reader, especially in the genre of worship and theology. So naturally we went to him to give us the definitive list of top 20 books from the past 20 years.

1. The Bible
A book to major on for worshiping leaders—and everyone else—especially Psalms, Leviticus, John (Gospel and Epistles), and the Book of Revelation.

2. A Generation of Seekers
Wade Clark Roof, Bruce Greer, Mary Johnson, and Andrea Leibson
Adventures in baby boomer spiritual leanings and how they have shaped the contemporary Church.

3. Common Roots
Robert Webber
This book, which includes an enlightening and extensive foreword from David Neff, shows the importance of worship as a continuance from the past. We worship in the present in the space between the past and the future. Christian worship begins with Christus Victor.

4. Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace
James Torrance
Explains the Trinity in the worshiping community.

5. Exploring Music as Worship and Theology
Mary E. McGann
Explodes understanding of the various aspects of congregational worship. Paradigm shift. Plus entertaining as well.

6. Heaven Below
Grant Wacker
An engaging history of the birth and first 10 years of the Pentecostal Movement and how it makes space for both Mary and Martha in worship.

7. Listening for the Text
Brian Stock
Shows how believers and pre-Gutenberg movements learned from the oral text. This gives us insight into the re-emergence of orality in our time.

8. Orality and Literacy (New Accents)
Walter J. Ong
Ong helps us understand our current aural/oral culture and the distinct difference of meaning between words spoken and words in print.

9. Producing the Sacred
Robert Wuthnow
From our perspective the sacred is “produced.” Wuthnow makes a clear delineation between our activity and what only God can do.

10. The Effective Executive
Peter F. Drucker
Peter Drucker, “the father of modern management,” a man known for his wisdom—and my mentor—was first, a theologian and second, a sociologist/economist. His biblical worldview shines through all of his writing.

11. The Great Worship Awakening
Robb Redman
My friend Robb Redman offers insight into worship movements and wise guidance for congregations caught in the flux of the current “worship awakening.”

12. The Medium and the Light
Marshall McLuhan
A classic and timeless treatise by one of the most influential thinkers and writers on “media.” McLuhan’s quote is worth contemplating endlessly. “In Jesus Christ, there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message … It’s the one case where we can say that the medium and the message are fully one and the same.”

13. Art in Action
Nicolas Wolterstorff
This is a must read for worship leaders and creators of content. Wolterstorff connects function with aesthetics. For example, a tree is beautiful, bears fruit, but also converts Carbon Dioxide in to Oxygen.

14. The Torah’s Vision of Worship
Samuel E. Balentine
Balentine gives insight into developing worship beginning in the Garden with man actually participating in completing creation through “naming” and takes us through Tabernacle and Temple worship.


15. The Way of a Worshiper
Buddy Owens
My friend Buddy has written a worship book that is a worship experience. Transformational. God revealing. Profound simplicity.

16. Themes and Variations for a Christian Doxology
Hughes Oliphant Old
This is the best biblical theology of worship, helping the worship pastors to evaluate the content of worship communication.

 17. Theology, Music and Time
Jeremy S. Begbie
If you were at NWLC in California this year, you know why I chose this book. Begbie is the leading voice on theology through the arts movement. This book provides a sound basis for understanding both the beauty and function of music in worship.

18. Visual Faith
William A. Dyrness
Bill’s book both reflects and fuels the move to more visual and artistic expression with the Church, and especially the reformed tradition. His advocacy is responsible, informed, and creative.

 19. Worship Old and New
Robert Webber
“A worship that will have staying power is a worship that is firmly grounded in the old, yet aware of and concerned for new ways to respond to the old, old story.” Even from heaven, Bob is still one of the most influential voices in liturgical renewal and worship.


20. Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel
Ronald Barclay Allen & Gordon Boror
This belongs on every pastor’s bookshelf. It not only defines worship, but gives a clear biblical description of theology and practice in worship.