Everyone has ideas about worship. We like to do things our way, and for years people in the pews, and even some members of leadership teams seem to want to limit the definition of worship to the music. Many of us have attended services where there was 15 - 20 minutes of worship (music) followed by the service.
But there is so much more involved with worship, and Greg Scheer has done an admirable job of pulling it together in an understandable way. His book Essential Worship: A Handbook for Leaders ( Baker Books, 2016) is helpful for new worship leaders as well as experienced leaders. As a sole pastor of a small church, I found the book helpful for my own planning purposes.
The format of the book is simple: five sections which flow and mesh nicely. Scheer starts with some principles which cover the basics of worship: what it is, who it's for and what it does. From there he moves to Part 2: the past. Whether you're a fan of hymns or not, they definitely played a major role in the worship of most Christian churches over the past few centuries. Like them or not, we can learn from them. I find that a lot of younger pastors and worship leaders don't have a good grip on things like the church year, how to use the liturgy (and yes every church has a liturgy.) Then Scheer moves on to parts 3 and 4: using music and the arts in worship.
I don't want to downplay the importance of music, and it certainly takes a preeminent role in most services, but Scheer also talks about using the arts in worship. This is something new and different for me. It's just not something that we do on a regular basis. However we are created in the image of the creator, and we have senses that can all be used to help us enter into the presence of God. Read the first few verses of Psalm 34, especially verse 8: Taste and see that the Lord is good. If every breath can be seen as an act of worship, and we're encouraged to 'taste and see' , then it stands to reason that we can use our other senses also. And for that we need something other than a choir, a soloist, or a band.
Part 5 talks about the people who are involved in worship: the world, the congregation, the worship leader(s), the pastor, and also included a section on the importance of mentoring. Yes even pastors and worship leaders can learn from others, need to learn from others, and also need some level of accountability.
I learned a lot from this book, and am excited to be able to share it with others on the leadership team.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for publishing a review on my blog and a retail site. I was not required to write a positive review.