There are numerous books on worship printed; most of which take a side in the continuing and often heated discussion about worship. Having read many of these books, it is obvious that most conversations about worship center on style. Even well-meaning theologians try to back up personal preference with scripture. The reality is that worship is not about style, it is and should be about the story of God and how we have been invited to participate. In Christ Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell, a well-known theologian, we are taken on a journey to investigate the worship practices and service outlines from church history. It is through this investigation that Chapell shows us that from the earliest inception of the organized church there has been a common story to tell in worship; the story of God. He points out that corporate worship is a model of our personal journey, a continuation of our daily conversation with God that is brought to a grander scale when believers gather.
In one area of the book Chapell writes that worship can be seen in two simple words and how we respond to these words. The words: Glory and Grace. God reveals His glory, we are given the chance to respond. God reveals His grace, we are given the chance to accept and then respond through a surrendered life.
As I read through the first part of the book I was waiting for the ‘shoe to drop.’ As Chapell exposes history I was waiting for him to say we needed to get back to the old ways, follow the liturgy of the historical church, including the songs and style of days gone by. The ‘shoe never fell.’
Chapell simply stated that it is not about style but about the story of God and how we expose the pieces of the story in worship and allow our congregations to respond. Chapell even gives examples of how contemporary songs and other elements can be used in the telling of the story.
If I were teaching young worship leaders I would use this book as a required text book. We learn from the history and we are challenged to begin the worship planning process by asking the question: ‘how will we tell the story of God, The Gospel, in this service.