It was a Sunday afternoon a few years ago. That morning I had led the service at Banstead Community Church. The way I led the service was the way I had always led and seen services led for as long as I could remember. But as I thought about it, something didn’t feel right. Even though we had sung and prayed and heard the Bible read and preached, I was still left with the question of why? Not, why did we do those things? but rather, why did we do it the way we did it?
It was that afternoon that started the process of trying to get my head around the question of what should we be doing when we gather together as a local church each Sunday. I read the Bible. I read books on corporate worship. But it wasn’t until I read Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Worship that suddenly things started to make sense.
Yet as good as Christ-Centered Worship is, and it is very good, this isn’t the first book I would recommend to pastors, those training at Bible college, or people in the congregation who have responsibility to lead services.
The first book I would recommend is Rhythms of Grace by Mike Cosper. In many ways this is Christ-Centered Worship for the masses because the essential message is the same: “Every week, we should gather and remember that God is holy, we are sinners, and Jesus saves us from our sins.”
Rhythms of Grace is a great introduction to the whole topic of corporate or gathered worship and what we do in these times. It begins by tracing the theme of worship through the story of the Bible showing over four chapters that the story of worship is the story of the gospel: “God creates, sin corrupts, but Christ redeems. And all of us get to sing along.”
Then in the remainder of the book, Cosper, turns to how the story of worship relates to what we do when gather as a local church. Topics covered include the relationship between all of life worship and the weekly worship service, the purpose of Sunday, a survey of worship services in church history, how to plan a service that tells the gospel story, music and the priorities of those who lead worship.
If you want some practical steps on how to allow the gospel story to shape and structure your weekly services, Rhythms of Grace and particularly chapter 8, I think, is the ideal starting point.
Rhythms of Grace is available to buy HERE.