Some books to peruse..

The below are the books we had on our bookstall at our recent London conference, but whether you were with us on Saturday or not, these are some of the books that we rate at the minute.

If you’d like to get your hands on any of them, we recommend as the place to purchase. To help you get an idea of the right books for you, here’s a short breakdown of those we recommended, with a summary of each:

The Everyone List

These books are short, accessible, and great to promote widely in your congregations. They will help everyone grow in their knowledge and practice of singing and worship, both when you gather, and in all of life:

Sing! (Keith & Kristyn Getty)

This great little book by the Gettys is helpful in uniting leaders and congregations in the purpose of singing. After a brief flyover of biblical reasons for singing, the authors help us to apply God’s word to how we sing as individuals, families, and congregations. The messages at the end of the book for pastors, song leaders, musicians, and songwriters are packed full of wisdom and helpful reflection from the Getty’s years of service at the forefront of modern hymn writing. See our in-depth review here

Then Sings My Soul (Philip Percival)

How do we understand the place of singing, our affections, emotions, the word of Christ, and the filling of the Holy Spirit? Philip Percival expounds various passages with a desire to let God’s word drive how we understand these things, and what we expect from our times of singing in church. Particularly helpful on understanding the two passages from the Epistles that teach on singing (Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5).

True Worship (Vaughan Roberts)

If there is confusion in your congregation about what worship is, or what it refers to, True Worship by Vaughan Roberts can be a great opening read to help you explore the key New Testament texts on worship. It also debunks some myths about worship that have arisen, which have sometimes been uncritically adopted in the way we approach congregational life together.

The Leader List

These books come recommended if you are involved in leading your congregation in planning services, leading music, or want to understand more about what churches should be doing when they gather:

Rhythms of Grace (Mike Cosper)

A helpful selective overview of the story of worship and singing in the Bible followed by some good thoughts on the nature of worship and the importance of what churches do when they gather. Cosper’s Worship “123” thesis – that worship has one object and author (God), two contexts (gathered and scattered), and three audiences (God, the church, and the world) is a useful framework to explore. This book is strong on the formative habits of regular gathered worship – how these ‘rhythms of grace’ lead to spiritual growth.

Worship Matters (Bob Kauflin)

Written just over 10 years ago, this is Bob Kauflin’s handbook for worship leaders born out of his experience and biblical reflections. It has been well used since and many have found various elements of the book helpful to work through together as music teams. You might not agree with everything Bob proposes, but his thoughtful reflections will challenge anyone who stands up the front (with or without an instrument) to lead others in corporate worship. It is particularly helpful in challenging such leaders about their hearts (what do I love?) minds (what do I believe?) hands (what do I practice?) and life (what do I model?) Some great thoughts on common ‘healthy tensions’ too.

True Worshippers (Bob Kauflin)

This more recent work explores the posture and practice of believers as worshippers of the true and living God. Bob writes warmly with helpful application of some key New Testament texts. This book will make you think and drive you back to the Bible to consider what God’s word says about the nature of worship and people’s expectations of worship. An important chapter at the end about looking forward to glory and the effect that has on our worship today.

Encountering God Together (David Peterson)

Written decades after Peterson’s major work on worship (see below), this volume has all the benefits of the author’s scholarly approach to the subject, with a greater focus on the biblical application of what churches are to do when they gather. A helpful manual for all who are involved in planning or leading services. If there is anything – from praying to singing to the Lord’s Supper – that you haven’t thought through biblically, this volume will help you to do just that. It’s a good one for leadership teams to work through together to make sure you’re aiming at the same things when you plan your services.

The Student List

If you want to dig deeper into the subject of biblical worship and related matters, these titles will reward the keen, patient student who is willing to search the scriptures and engage these things in depth.

Engaging with God (David Peterson)

Still the outstanding book in its field (the Biblical Theology of worship), Peterson has thoroughly researched the biblical data and so traces the story of worship through the whole of Scripture for us. Care is taken over the semantics and translation of key terms that often get translated as “worship” or related words in our English Bibles. As well as interpreting key passages from Old and New Testaments in their immediate context, this book seeks to expose the progressive and developing character of God’s revelation within the pages of Scripture. The result is a comprehensive guide to engaging with God, on the terms that he proposes, and in the way that he alone makes possible. Jesus is key to this worship, and Peterson’s volume (perhaps more than any other) shows us exactly how Jesus is key.

The Message of Worship (John Risbridger)

Risbridger writes as a serving pastor and the chapters often have a sermon-like quality to them. This means that deep truths are unpacked in a way that grabs your attention and are subsequently applied helpfully with a local body of believers in mind. Structured around a trinitarian framework, this book works through a number of Bible passages in depth, grouped under the headings of ‘Worship and the Glory of God’, ‘Worship and the Supremacy of Christ’ and ‘Worship and the Life of the Holy Spirit’. This systematic approach doesn’t mean that the author doesn’t work hard on the text. A sharp exegete, Risbridger helps us spot things we would have missed from many of our go-to passages on worship, and thoughtfully teases out application from them. The study guide at the back (common to these BST volumes) helps individuals and groups wrestle with these things some more.

Andrew McKenna

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