Essential Worship – A Book Review

essential-worshipThere may be nothing more contentious within the church than the worship ministries. What music should be played? Is it too loud? Who should lead? How close (or far) are we to God’s plan for corporate worship? The questions go on and on and it seems that there are all kinds of answers from every possible direction.

“Essential Worship” by Greg Scheer is a helpful handbook for leaders. Whether those leaders be pastors, worship leaders, worship directors, worship pastors, or whoever, Scheer has done a thorough job of putting together a handbook that can be used by these leaders to help them in leading their ministries.

This book is divided into five parts: Principles, Past, Practice: Music in Worship, Practice: The Arts in Worship, and People.

In the Principles section, Scheer starts with the primary and most important topic: what is worship” He leads the reader through other principles such as what is Biblical worship, who is the audience, and what does worship do. He moves into the Past section and invites the reader to look at the past as well as various methods and modes of worship that have been used throughout the history of the church.

Parts three and four are a helpful foray into the practice of worship within the church. Scheer does a very good job of remaining balanced by offering thoughts and suggestions from both past as well as current repertoires and methods. While it seems that his experience may be in traditional forms of worship, it does not seem to bias his viewpoint.

Part five is about the various people involved in worship leadership within the church: pastors, leaders, musicians, and the like. Scheer offers some beneficial advice here on how to move through potential conflict.

There are nuggets of information scattered throughout this book. It’s not necessarily a book meant to be read front to back but can instead be used as a resource. After all, it is called a handbook. Scheer’s experience, wisdom, and thorough research into this book is apparent and it will serve church worship leaders well.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Baker Books. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)

Facing It

I’ve got a workout buddy that I meet at the gym twice a week. He’s far more experienced (and in way better shape) than I am, so he leads our workouts. I just sit back and pray that I’ll make it through them. He knows some of the things that I want to work on, so he includes workouts that will be best for getting done what needs to get done.

Our gym isn’t the most up-to-date facility, the equipment works fine, but it sure could use an update. There are free weights and a few machines. There are exercise balls, spinning bikes, floor mats, and other things that enable us to do what we need to do.

But there’s one thing in the gym that makes me cringe every time my buddy goes to get it…..

THE WHEEL OF DEATH

 ab-wheel

Maybe you’ve seen it before. Maybe you’ve used it before. Maybe you have the same look of shock and horror on your face every time that you come across it.

I remember seeing these things when I was a kid four hundred years ago. I guess you can’t improve upon greatness…….or pain.

As much as I hope that the ab wheel would just disappear from our gym, I also know what it does to me when I use it. It works my core and if I push myself, it should flatten out that 40+ tummy of mine (operative word there is “should”).

When we met at the gym the other day and we pulled out the wheel of death, I couldn’t help but think about the things that we try to avoid. Most of us will try to avoid some things that aren’t good for us or that will harm us. Some of us will avoid things that we know might be good for us but for which we find ourselves with a great aversion towards.

The fact is, there are some things, regardless of how we might react to them, that are good for us, at least in the long run. They might cause pain and agony in the short term, but the long term benefits will far outweigh that pain and agony.

Nope, we can hardly ever see it at the time. Who really likes to subject themselves to such pain?

I’ve been astounded at my observations of how this mindset extends so much further than the gym. When we face things that we don’t like, we simply run away. Let’s find a safe place where we can go so as to avoid the things that we don’t like. Let’s find a way to create a safe zone where nothing distasteful can enter.

But what happens to the growth that might have occurred in us had we had to face what we didn’t want to face? What happens to our resolve? To our sense of conviction? To our ability to hear opposing viewpoints? Do we really grow if we only surround ourselves with the things that we like?

This isn’t a recommendation for everyone to go hang out with the complete opposite of yourself, but it is a pondering of just what this does to us. I imagine that if we run every single time that we are faced with some kind of offense or opposition, we’re probably not moving much further from the space which we are already occupying. We’re not going to grow, to mature, to develop. We will be destined for mediocrity.

Sure, this breaks down at some point, I’m sure it does. There are certain topics and ideas which I want to avoid extreme opposition. I’ve wrestled with them and think I’ve come to rest on a good conclusion. But if my conclusions are really as sure-footed as I think they are, shouldn’t I be okay with a little wrestling now and then?

When I go back to the gym and that Wheel of Death is lurking in the closet, waiting to inflict pain upon me, I hope I don’t run. I hope I give it a try, because ultimately, what it will do to me will be far more significant and beneficial than if I simply were to tuck my tail and run away.