The Heart of Worship Files

    -- Compiled by Matt Redman, Ventura: Regal, 2003, 205 pages.

This useful book is a collection of about 50 highlights from the website from almost 40 different contributors. They include luminaries such as Matt Redman (the founder), Graham Kendrick, Louie Giglio, Sally Morganthaler, Darlene Zschech, Robin Mark and many more. Unfortunately the website has now folded, so this book is your best bet to get these materials.

The selections are arranged in six major categories which are interspersed through the book:

“Worship is always a response to a revelation,” writes Redman. He goes on to confess that as a worship leader in the charismatic tradition, he has often focused on the response more than on the revelation itself. As he says, “Instead of focusing on bringing a true and meaningful overflow of the heart, leaders have settled for some sort of spiritual disco competition with a prize for the wildest participant.” He calls composers and worship leaders to help bring people into a “fresh revelation of Jesus… and the response will take care of itself.” He heaps praise on a 150-year old hymnbook for the extensive collection of diverse biblical themes—about 70 categories! He commissions contemporary songwriters to consider the breadth and depth of such a songbook as a model. (The useful list of categories is in the latest edition of the book “All the World Will Worship”).

Some parts of the collection are specifically about music; other chapters deal with weightier matters. “We Become Like What We Worship” speaks of our addictions and idolatries and our need to follow 1 Thess 1:9: “You turned from idols to serve the living and true God.” This author, Don Williams, also offers good, short devotionals on Psalm 100 and 150. Another chapter is concerned with the connection of worship and justice.

One of my favorite sections is the 4-part series on “Understanding Worship” by Chris Jack, who teaches theology of worship at London Bible College. These exemplary teachings would work well at a music/worship workshop or Bible school setting.

Other chapters by Redman suggests how to lead worship in three different contexts (cell group, congregation, and big celebration), and “Renewing the Intimate Friendship” (“With worship leading it’s not what you know but who you know”).

The final chapter is an interesting synthesis of ancient and contemporary worship song lyrics in the context of “Imagine the View From Here” (where “here” = “having a vision of God”).

I have one quibble: The current buzz phrase “lead worshipper” is used much more than the more common “worship leader” but the theological implications of this alternate wording are completely ignored. It seems to be considered a more accurate term by the authors, but there is no explanation to help us understand the implications of the distinction. There are a few pages on the Holy Spirit as the “Real Worship Leader.”

Many topics are touched on, making it an ideal resource for people involved in multiple ministries. The practical chapters are filled with hands-on tips, the theological chapters are insightful, the devotional chapters are meaningful. The book is recommended for everyone, whether songleader, pastor, composer, worship teacher, music missionary, choir member, and everyone with a heart to know God and make him known to others.

    --reviewed by Paul Neeley

Published in Vol.3, No.3 of

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