The beginning of 2011, for me, was largely about getting a recording out the door. Halfway through, I picked up a few books, and I’ll mention the ones that had the most impact in the area of worship, music, & arts. I’ll post my anticipated reads for 2012 later this week.
**If you’re a pastor, worship leader, or worship thinker, I’d love to know what books, articles, or other works influenced you this past year. Please share!**
This one lit a fire under me, and I’ve been challenging others I know to read it. Its central thesis: evangelical worship needs to recover a sense that God is truly present among us in a unique way when we gather for worship. It not only diagnoses the historical and theological reasons why evangelical worship lacks a sense of God’s real presence, it proposes very helpful solutions to the problem. It is my number-one recommendation to my readership. If you can only read one book on worship this year, read this one.
Brief, practical, engaging, anecdotal, and very readable. Written by a thoughtful practitioner. I was turned on to Bell after having recorded his song “The Word of Life (In a Byre Near Bethlehem).” My big takeaway from this book is to better encourage and pastor the folks in my congregation who don’t like singing or feel like they can’t. This book has given me some tools for this endeavor.
One of my long-term goals as a pastor over Worship, Music, and Arts at Cherry Creek is to strengthen our ability to minister to and connect with the broader arts community. We’re just making in-roads into the classical music community in Denver, and I’d like to see that expand to include other art communities as well. I believe I’ve read every chapter in this book, and I’ve found each to be inspiring and vision-kindling.
I’ve seen this book referenced many, many times in things I’ve read, and I’ve nearly purchased it every time it was mentioned. Now that I’ve read it, I’m kicking myself for overlooking it all these years. It’s short but incredibly rewarding. The first two chapters (pp. 1-68) were the most powerful for me. Why must Christian worship be Trinitarian? What does Trinitarian worship look like? This book answers those questions.
I would characterize this as one of the best all-around “handbooks” for modern worship leaders. It discusses everything that the thoughtful modern worship leader should consider for his or her leadership. It’s accessible and conversational. If evangelical worship leaders spent time with this book, I dare we’d see a revival in musicality and thoughtfulness in our worship.