Resources for Contemporary Worship (Sep 1992)

By Matt Dabbs

by Kregg Hood
September, 1992

Terry Wardle tells this great story in his book Exalt Him!

A small boy sat beside his mother at church. Like most children, his attention was neither easily captured nor readily held. So much of what was happening in the service seemed uninteresting, unrelated, unimportant. Quite frankly, he was bored stiff! Suddenly his ever-wandering eyes noticed a bronze plaque prominently placed upon the side wall. There he saw stars, letters, and the outline of an American flag. Nudging his mother and pointing to the plaque, he asked, “What’s that?” Graciously and patiently the young mother replied, “Oh, those are the names of people from our church who died in the service.” There was a long pause. The little fellow was somewhat bothered by her answer. Suddenly he demanded his mother’s attention again. With a sense of concern – almost panic – he asked, “Mom, was that the first or second service?”

That story’s almost too true to be funny. Worship to Almighty God should be to create a wondrous mix of celebration, awe, reflection, and encouragement. Whether worship is in public or in private we need to experience the presence of our Heavenly Father.

But the big question is how do we open pathways to more powerful worship? This review suggests resources which will help both your private and congregational worship. But there is something more important you need to realize first. Think back on the life of David and his Psalms. Worship was never better! Why? Because David had a keen sense of who God is and what he has done. If you want to energize your worship, focus on understanding and growing in your appreciation of those two thoughts. If God is not at the center of your worship, you’ll be imprisoned by your preferences, comfort zones, and worship format “fads” that come and go.

Three caveats are in order before my review. First, this list is not exhaustive. I’m sure many of you know of other excellent resources. If so, great! Let’s share them! Anything which helps us better comprehend who God is and appreciate what he has done will lead us to more powerful worship.

Second, this list focuses primarily on contemporary worship resources whcih are compatible with more traditional formats. If you’re more “high church,” please remember that resources are already plentiful for this approach. The same can also be said for the “low church” folks.

Third, my positive recommendation of a resource simply means it is helpful to me. It does not mean I necessarily agree with every single doctrinal point or application suggested by each resource. Study God’s Word, search your heart and examine the opportunities God gives you for influencing worship.

RESOURCES FOR DEVELOPING MORE POWERFUL WORSHIP

Books:
A Celebration of Praise by Dick Eastman. This book expands on the two most fundamental truths necessary for powerful worship: who God is and what he has done. Eastman opens the book by addressing the first of these two truths. He surveys several key facets of God’s unlimited existence, weaving in his own insights with others like A.W. Tozer and J.I. Packer (Baker, 1984).
Mastering Worship by Jack Hayford, John Killinger, and Howard Stevenson. This very practical book comes from the pens and hearts of three gifted leaders of meaningful congregational worship. The authors provide explanations, guidelines, and tips to improve any congregational worship experience (Multnomah, 1990).
Beyond Church Growth by Robert Logan. This entire book is about helping a church develop a comprehensive approach to ministry. Logan, a proven church planter, describes 10 principles needed to minister effectively in a contemporary society. Of special interest is Chapter Four, “Celebrative and Reflective Worship” (Revell, 1989).
The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur, Jr. This book studies worship from a theological standpoint. But, MacArthur’s writing style is not tedious at all. His Scripture study helps to develop the heart of an adoring, obedient disciple. Even though the book is oriented toward a more traditional understanding of the topic, it’s one of my personal favorites. (Moody, 1983).
Up With Worship by Anne Ortlund. The sub-title of Up With Worship says it all: How to Quit Playing Church. This book presents 70 brief essays on a wide variety of issues and concerns which are relevant to congregational worship. (Regal, 1982).
The Attributes of God by Arthur W. Pink. Here’s a classic book that’s helped me enlarge my awareness of God’s greatness. Pink discusses 17 of the many incredible qualities of God’s nature. This information will give a you a greater respect for the Lord. You can’t help but worship when you realize how great he is! (Baker, 1975).
The Hallelujah Factor by Jack Taylor. This book includes an extensive analysis of both Greek and Hebrew words as they were used in various biblical worship settings. The author’s love for the Lord and his passion for leading others into worship enhances the impact of this book, too. (Broadman, 1983).
Worship is a Verb by Robert Webber. Another top leader of the study and practice of Christian worship brings his theological, academic, and practical experiences to bear on this topic. (Word, 1985 and Abbott-Martyn, 1992, 2nd edition).
Exalt Him! by Terry Wardle. Wardle shows the interrelatedness of Christ-centered worship. His thesis is that dynamic, Christian worship must glorify God, edify believers, and appeal to the lost. (Christian Publications, 1988).

Resource Tapes/Recordings:
Galestorm Music (P.O. Box 121474, Nashville, TN 37212-1474) by John Elliot. Elliot’s skills as a worship leader are superb but unpretentious. And his insights as a teacher are penetrating. He has the following materials available through Galestorm Music: Teaching tapes on “The Magnificence of God,” “Worship Leading,” “Hindrances to Worship 1 and 2,” and “Spiritual Warfare.” Like most contemporary praise music, this music is not arranged for the a cappella experience.
Hallal Music (P.O. Box 153394, Irving, TX 75015-3394). Fortunately, however, there is a new source of contemporary praise music serving non-instrumental churches. Ken Young, Minister of Music and Family at South MacArthur Church of Christ in Irving, Texas created Hallal Music to meet this growing need. The word “hallal” is from a Hebrew word which means “to praise God with a loud voice.” Hallal Music has just released “The Singer’s Workshop Series.” These materials include a collection of some of the most popular contemporary praise songs, all arranged for four-part harmony. Ken has also set several great portions of Scripture to music. This material has been “field tested” extensively and is very “singable” by churches of all sizes.

Contemporary Hymnbooks:
Several other contemporary songbooks, oriented toward a cappella singing, are available. Two of these are Praise for the Lord (Praise Press, 1992, telephone 80-331-5991). This new hymnbook brings as wide a variety of songs as any hymnbook available to churches of Christ. The editors have included both the words and music to some of the newer, well-known and popular worship songs in the 900 selections this book contains.
Songs of the Church, 21st Century Edition (Howard Publishers, 1990, telephone 318-396-3122). This book is a complete update from a popular previous hymnal produced by Howard Publishers.

Periodicals:
Worship Leader (CCM Publications, 1913 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212, 615-386-3011). This bimonthly magazine is directed at the congregational leader who wants to bring contemporary worship to the local church. It features articles, ideas, resources, and reviews (as well as advertisements) which can enhance congregational worship.
Discipleship Journal (Navpress, telephone 800-877-1811). Issue 70, 1992 highlights the theme of worship. This one issue is full of excellent teaching articles and information about the state of congregational worship in evangelical America.

Obviously, I have not listed all available resources, but I hope these will be helpful. Perhaps this list will at least “whet your appetite” for the most important task of more meaningfully worshipping our God!Wineskins Magazine

Kregg Hood

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1584 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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