For Worship Leaders at Christmas to Gift Others or… “Present” Yourself.
BIG BOOKS FOR SHELVES
LITTLE BOOKS FOR BACKPACKS
eBOOKS FOR TRAVELERS
Over the years, we at Worship Leader have encountered some really good books that extol and amplify the One who wrote “the” Good Book, and these tomes enrich and inspire worship. Here is a short list of keepers that you may return to again and again.
The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ
This ought to be required reading for every pastor, worship leader, worship curator, or worship writer. The Cross is central to our faith, but many are clueless or confused about just what Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross signifies for us, for creation, for the world system and the powers of sin and death. This book unscrambles various theologies of atonement and so much more. It is rare that a book is endorsed and embraced across Christian faith traditions that have clear-cut differences, but the endorsements for this book bridge the body of Christ. As in any book, there will undoubtedly be points of departure, yet this gives you a framework for contemplation, research, discussion…and worship.
One Thousand Gifts
This book is not only beautifully written in a refreshing and uniquely imagined mix of poetry and prose, but it truly holds the key to living a life of joy in Christ.
Architect series Constance Cherry | Baker Academic
The Worship Architect:
A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services.
Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song.
Special Service Worship Architect:
Blueprints For Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Holy Communion, And Other Occasions.
Creative, wise, sensitive, theologically solid and biblically tethered, plus practical with endless applications. A trio of books foundational for worship leaders and part of the essential library for those who lead their congregations in worship.
Dallas Willard | IVP
This is a classic. Robert Webber tells us God still speaks and Dallas Willard tells how to discern what he is saying. Willard sorts out the questions and confusion around hearing God; through this book, he has discipled and encouraged countless leaders and believers. Whether you’re seasoned in the faith or brand new, whether you are 15 or in the last chapter, don’t miss this.
Blossoms in the Desert
Discovery House Books
Featuring original drawings and paintings as well as reflections on God and our life with and in Him amidst a litany of prayers and conversations. Blossoms in the Desert will find a place next to your most cherished devotionals. This unknown (to most) missionary of nearly a century ago (1853-1928) has emerged from the folds of history just when needed most. In a world of consumption and the desire to be influential, one who valued God above fame and wealth and influence writes these words. Reminiscent of other great saints known for their passion for God and their choice to be persons of “one thing,” such as St. Francis, Teresa of Avila, Waldo. This fragile woman rejected by Missions because of her health, spent years ministering in Algeria among the Muslims and Sikhs. On these pages she mentors us and each page is a new song in our hearts.
The Church at Worship: Case Studies from Christian History
Various Authors | Edited by Lester Ruth, Carrie Steenwyk, John D. Witvliet | Eerdmans
These case studies courtesy of Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (6 books so far) invite you to be part of congregations throughout time, to be inside the story of Christian faith through the ages, not just read about it. A mini-course in lived church history. Highly recommended. Also some great fuel for songwriting in the featured songs and sermons.
The Case For the Psalms
N.T. Wright | HarperOne.
So much packed into one tiny volume. Wright waxes eloquent on space, time and matter, on modern and ancient perspectives and philosophies, Christ and the Church, God’s history across time and Testaments. But most of all this is a personal heartfelt invitation to the Church to the banquet that is The Book of Psalms. This isn’t a dull suggestion of embracing some kind of rote recitation, this is an impassioned missive on songs that are full of passion and power and life. N.T. says it best, “…to neglect the church’s original hymnbook is, to put it bluntly, crazy.” And, “Sing these songs, and they will renew you from head to toe, from heart to mind. Pray these poems, and the will sustain you on the long hard but exhilarating road of Christian discipleship.”
Know the Heretics
Justin S. Holcomb | Zondervan.
Because from time to time, and sometimes often, hints or outright declarations of heretical beliefs surface in songs or sermons, it’s a good idea to find out what our church mothers and fathers knew about heresy. For those who preach and write and plan our worship, this will save you a lot of trouble on the backend.
Themes and Variations for a Christian Doxology:
Some Thoughts on The Theology of Worship
Hughes Oliphant Old | Eerdmans
Chuck Fromm, Worship Leader’s founder always glowed when he spoke of Hughes (Scoti) Oliphant Olds and especially this book, which truly is timeless. Those who read it will never write, plan, preach or worship in the same way. Services and songs can become painfully predictable, whether dry… or dripping with emotion, they can avoid painting a complete picture of God and the Gospel written, historicized, poetically presented, and prophetically declared across Testaments. Reading this book and soaking in its wisdom will avoid that sad fate for pastors, worship leaders, curators and worship writers alike.
C. S. Lewis | Harper Collins
The perfect book to give to those who don’t know Christ, those who know Him marginally, and those who know Him well. This book searches across time the essential beliefs held by Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. Sometimes, strange as it may seem we forget what and why we believe. Here Lewis is the apologist, and as our faith gets more fused and confused with culture, that’s just what we need, especially if we’re writing and choosing the songs that will form us into the image of Christ. We’re never too old to be discipled and to remember what we’ve forgotten about what we believe.
You may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God.
Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative
Robert E. Webber | Baker Books
Webber goes beyond the peripherals to the heart of worship, content and form. He leads us from lifeless and self-focused worship to fully entering God’s narrative in the past, present, and future as we worship. He connects us to the deep and rich history, principles and practices that eternally resonate and emanate life and invite us and lead us to participatory and active engagement in worship.
The Heart of the Artist: A Character-building Guide for you and Your Ministry Team
Rory Noland | Zondervan
Rory has written many features and columns for WL precisely because he intrinsically understands both the wonder and the possible pitfalls of leading in worship. Sometimes character is sacrificed in congregational worship to the idols of talent and charisma. Rory disciples worship artists and leaders in this wise book. He leads them into commitment, community, servant leadership, accountability and best of all to a place of rest. Leaders can embrace excellence, but escape the prison of perfectionism. Rory is a pastoral voice that needs to be listened to, now more than ever.
The Purpose of Man: Designed To Worship
A.W.Tozer | multiple publishers
To say that Tozer is timeless in his teaching, writing, and preaching is an understatement. He leads us into a rhythm of practicing the presence of God. He has a passion for worship and embodies the sentiments of Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” His voice calls us to come and see and taste and find that the Lord is good…beyond good. Out of these encounters, his prophetic worship voice calls each of us to a deeper relationship with God and a re-ordering of life’s priorities. This is water in the desert.
What’s Love Got to do With it? How the Heart of God Shapes Worship
Sam Hamstra | Wipf and Stock
In this volume, you’ll find a pastoral, thoughtful, creative, scripturally anchored, experientially secured response to the initial question. A book for all who worship and/or plan worship. It fills a gap in our worship understanding. “The Beloved shapes the love of the lover.” Sally Morgenthaler, known to WL readers from her insightful articles and conference appearances called it the “hidden jewel of worship books.”
NEW TESTAMENT TRANSLATIONS
The Kingdom New Testament
Translated by N.T. Wright | HarperOne.
Reads like a book, with construction and language that brings clarity and delivers a read that is rich, accessible, and inviting. Often called the foremost New Testament scholar alive, it only makes sense to read Wright’s translation.
Lavender’s New Testament
A literal translation. Translated by Malcolm L. Lavender, with notes commentary and grammatical concordance, R. L. Lavender. The extensive footnotes in this New Testament translation take on some of the most difficult recurring questions about faith in Christ. It will undoubtedly challenge you and stir you to deeper travel into Scripture’s bounty.
The New Testament: An Expanded Translation
A literal translation. Kenneth S. Wuest | Eerdmans. Although not a recent translation, it still is exciting to read. Following the order of words and using the exact amount of words to express the meaning in the original Greek. It is lively and captivating.
BEST GIFT FOR A WORSHIP LEADER
Expense paid tuition for a worship conference; training intensive or song writing retreat whether streamed or in-person is always a terrific gift (that would last a lifetime). You can discover the songwriting conference that fits the needs of your giftee: their interests, schedule, budget, and geographic preferences. Some of the conferences are a time to grow in skill and theological understanding, some a place to write songs for the global hymnal, and others a place to just soak in and receive. And some offer those components and more. At www.training-resources.org/wcl/ you can look at an array of choices and specialties that match your worship leaders specific needs. With the ongoing changes around COVID, the winter months may be uncertain as far as travel and restrictions, so if you’re booking the first few months of the year, go close to home or online. Starting out the year with an online bang is one of our favorites:
Calvin Institute Of Christian Worship Calvin Symposium on Worship
January 6–26, 2021
Learn and connect. Calvin is extending an invitation to register now for a “free online learning experience on key topics and themes in worship and the Christian life at the Calvin Symposium on Worship.” Anyone familiar with this yearly worship event knows that it is fashioned for a wide array of worshipers and worship leaning participants: students, faculty, artists, musicians, pastors, preachers, scholars, teachers, worship leaders and planners, and all interested worshipers everywhere. This is a “world” event not to be missed and it’s FREE, The symposium gives you the ability to design a schedule of learning that works for you. “The online Symposium on Worship offers livestream sessions weekdays from January 6-26 as well as on-demand content that allows you to access material at your own pace and time.”
National Worship Leader Conference. Nashville, Tennessee
July 13-14, 2021
We may be prejudiced, but most worship conferences have taken their lead and inspiration and format from one of the most lasting and continuous conferences around. This year NWLC is being held in Nashville, TN. Rediscover your passion for God and for worship. Rediscover the prayer in every song. Gather with others who lead in worship to be inspired, trained, transformed, and encouraged… You are invited to join us and leading scholars, pastors, songwriters, artists, musicians and technologists in an atmosphere of rest, renewal, and discovery.
RECENT BOOKS | 2019 – 2020. From WL friends and faculty members.
One of our favorite people, teachers and worship historians actually gifted us with two books this year, and I hear another is closely following. Does this man ever sleep?
Essays on the History of Contemporary Praise and Worship
Lester Ruth (editor) | Pickwick
This collection of essays regarding what has been dubbed “Contemporary Worship” or “Praise and Worship” gives students and scholars not only a brief history and introduction but a template for further study. Encompassing various authors, crossing various Christian faith traditions, it will give you a broader understanding of worship’s recent history.
Flow: The Ancient Way to Do Contemporary Worship
Lester Ruth | Abingdon
This guide to good practices will help churches plan engaged and engaging worship. Lester Ruth and contributors Zachary Barnes, Andrew Eastes, Jonathan Ottaway, Adam Perez, Glenn Stallsmith and Deborah Wong help leaders reimagine worship. “Flow casts a new, but classic, understanding of traditional worship as well as spurs a reconsideration of how contemporary worship can be done by honoring the traditions of denominational congregations.”
Steven is a longtime friend, professor, author, and pastor with a heart for worship leaders and an emphasis on spiritual formation. A practiced mentor and trainer, he loves helping worship leaders grow.
Worship Formation: A Call to Embrace Christian Growth in Each Element of the Worship Service
Steven Brooks | Wipf and Stock.
Steven explores how traditional elements in the service of worship form those who worship. Looking at how “worshiping through music, prayer, Scripture reading, Communion, sermon, stillness, giving, and baptism engages the worshiper in spiritual formation.“ When you know why you are worshiping, and understand its formational power, going through the motions will never be enough.
Glenn has been a constant presence in WL mag and NWLC conferences over the years. His books are always theologically sound and personally engaging, with a penchant for anchoring truth in evocative storytelling. He shared thoughts from this book in Issue 29:3.
Worship and the World to Come: Exploring Christian Hope in Contemporary Worship (Dynamics of Christian Worship)
Glenn Packiam | IVP
Glenn explores the reason for our hope as Christians. Packiam looks at how the resurrection, the center of promise and future hope for Christians is expressed and experienced in Christian worship and the formational consequence.
Constance is a WL treasure. She has enriched our conferences and magazines over the years with her wisdom. We’re particularly excited about her newest release because it is written for all who worship. No one is left out.
Worship Like Jesus: A Guide for Every Follower
Constance Cherry | Abingdon
Constance Cherry guides us all through essential aspects of Christian worship with Jesus at the center as our worship leader, example and mentor. Following His lead and His way of worship, we are re-formed and transformed; we are enlightened and inspired. Worship will never be the same.
Kevin has been on the worship radar for a while, as he has been writing about worship for some time, but just recently, he has graced us with his pastoral care and wisdom in this month’s issue.
T.F. & J.B. Torrance’s Theology of Worship as Participation By the Spirit in the Son’s Communion With The Father
Kevin J. Navarro | Wipf And Stock
Two subjects that are at the core of Christian faith are the Cross and the Trinity, but they are also two subjects many Christians if asked to explain, pull a blank on. By introducing us to the scholarship and revelatory insight of the Torrance brothers and their rich understanding of the Trinity and its communion, Navarro has done us all a huge and potentially life-changing favor.