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Christ-Centered Worship


One of the resources I’ve used for my current series on worship is the new release by Bryan Chapell titled, Christ-Centered Worship. Chapell serves as President of Covenant Theological Seminary and has also authored Christ-Centered Preaching. The book is helpful in that the author traces the development of worship through church history. It was interesting to see the theological development of many elements of worship that we take for granted. Listed below are some quotes from the book that I think you will find helpful.

1. “Always we are to be informed by tradition; never are we to be ruled by it. The Word of God is our only infallible rule of faith and practice, but an unwillingness to consider what previous generations have learned about applying God’s Word discloses either naiveté or arrogance.” (p. 16)

2. “Liturgy (the structure of the church’s worship service) tells a story. We tell the gospel by the way we worship. Where a church maintains the truths of the gospel, it inevitably discovers aspects of worship that are in harmony with other faithful churches. In fact, worshipping with these aspects is one important way a church maintains fidelity with the gospel.” (p. 19)

3. “The structure of a church’s liturgy also inevitably tells its understanding of the gospel story. This means the worship structures that communicate the gospel are themselves shaped by the gospel. The medium is the message because the message shapes the medium.” (p. 85)

4. “Where the church remains true to the gospel, her worship reflects the truths she holds most dear. Where the gospel is lost, worship becomes reflective of a dead tradition or an evolving heresy. There are two immediate implications: (1) when the gospel is distorted, then the worship of the church will be distorted; and (2) when the worship of the church does not reflect the gospel, then the gospel itself is in danger.” (p. 101)

5. “Understanding worship as a love response to the truths of the gospel does not merely shape the contours of the worship service; it also shirts the focus of our hearts in worship. Worship becomes less about earning God’s approval by correct observance of traditions and more about delighting to express our love for him in the ways that most please him.” (p. 112)

6. “Gospel priorities will force us to consider both God’s glory and the people’s good. We cannot simply fall back on what the church did in the past, especially if that no longer brings glory to God or ministers to his people. We cannot simply impose personal preference without idolizing our glory and good.” (p. 122)

7. “We should not be forced to choose between being traditional or being relevant. Only the most arrogant congregation would say that God has taught nothing to its forefathers from which it can learn. And only the most self-absorbed congregation would say that it does not need to be concerned about making its worship relevant to the present generation.” (p. 137)

8. “Over time, only what truly serves the ministry of the Word survives in worship.” (p. 151)

Chapell’s argument is that the gospel itself should shape our worship practices. Christ-centered worship includes–
Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration)
Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession)
Affirmation of Grace (Assurance)
Expression of Devotion (Thanksgiving)
Desire for Aid in Living for God (Petition and Intercession)
Acquiring Knowledge for Pleasing God (Instruction from God’s Word)
Communing with God and His People (Communion)
Living Unto God with His Blessing (Charge and Benedition)

Part 1 of the book is a blend of church history, theology, and practice. Part 2 contains several practical resources and examples to utilize in worship planning. While the book’s likely target is those who devote themselves to worship leadership, any believer would benefit from Chapell’s outstanding book.

Categories : Books, Worship

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