Since I am wrapping up my seminary program this week, I have done a lot of reflecting on my journey as a worship pastor thus far. God has taught me a lot through experience, learning form mentors and through some really good resources. I thought today I would recommend some books on worship and even on leadership that relates to worship issues. Some of these books are seminary books and others are ones that have been recommended or gifted to me over the years. All of these have been helpful to me personally in my development as a leader. I would encourage you all to check out these great resources…
Worship is a Verb | Robbert E. Webber (Hendrickson Publishers, 1996)
Honestly, I could probably write a post of five Robbert Webber books. In Worship is a Verb, he makes the case the worship is a God-centered activity. He describes Christian worship as a celebration and a response to God’s mighty acts. To Webber, God is the one who initiates worship, gathers us together and is the main actor and basis of our salvation. All worship, then, is a response to what God has already done. And the different actions and “reenactments” we take in worship, help us to actively remember and anticipate what God will continue to do. This is something that I have internalized as a worship pastor over the last few years. That God is the initiator. We don’t actually cause worship to happen in our church, but rather we recognize God and abide in him in visible ways that draw others to do the same.
Also Check Out: Ancient Future Worship by Robbert E. Webber
The Next Worship | Sandra Maria Van Opstal (InterVarsity Press, 2016)
This is my favorite resource for intercultural or multi-ethnic worship teams. And it has been particularly helpful in the setting where I have been leading for the last year. Sandra Maria Van Opstal has led large, multi-cultural gatherings for InterVarsity for years. And I much appreciate how she thinks through engaging a diverse crowd, not through tokenism or using cultural elements and art to impress people, but how to align people from different backgrounds toward the same heart of God. She uses the depiction of Revelation 7, of multitudes from every tribe and nation coming together in worship as a vision for what God is doing and gives advise for how to lead people into it.
The Music Architect | Constance M. Cherry (Baker Academic, 2016)
Constance Cherry has done some of the best work I have ever seen on a biblical basis for worship services and worship music. This book is a great resource on the role and qualifications of a “Pastoral Musician” rather than just a worship leader. She also talks through the biblical role of music in worship and the different ways the scripture shows singing used in glorifying the Lord. And she also talks about developing a “canon” or a common body of music that fits your church context. All in all, it is a great resource for a number of important worship leadership issues.
Also Check Out: The Worship Architect by Constance Cherry
The Heart of Worship Files | Matt Redman (Kingsway Communications, 2003)
This is a little devotional book that I don’t *think* ever became super popular. However, someone gave it to me as a gift around the time I graduated from college and it was quite helpful in helping me formulate my ideas on a biblical basis for worship. Matt Redman compiled some different resources from different worship pastors that are all pretty helpful. He also recounts where the song “The Heart of Worship” comes from where his team stripped back a lot of the production at their own church in order to focus on congregational singing and worshipping God together. This book helps put the focus back on God.
Also Check Out: Facedown, The Worship Series by Matt Redman
ReThink Communication | Phil Bowdle (Center for Church Communication, 2019)
I only recently read Phil Bowdle’s church communication playbook. But I found it really helpful in thinking through how we reach people in an increasingly online mission field. The book came out before the events of the pandemic in 2020, and yet I think the ideas still hold up. As worship pastors and church communicators, our message has to engage people and cut through the noise of social media that dominates everyone’s daily lives. This playbook helps churches refocus on how to get the gospel and a message of invitation across to people.