Book Review: Worship Essentials: Growing a Healthy Worship Ministry without Starting a War! by Mike Harland
How do you change the climate of worship in a church? How do you get beyond the debate over music styles—old versus new, hymns versus praise songs, piano and organ versus guitar and drums? The conviction of Dove Award-winning worship leader and author Mike Harland is that we need to get below the surface issues and address the fundamental issues of worship and ministry.
If the spiritual leaders of a church want to foster a community that reflects the biblical marks of an authentic worship culture, they will have to go beneath the externals and get to the heart of the matter—first, in themselves—and then in the church as a whole.
We have to get to the essentials of worship.
The author identifies four key values of worship—tell the story, make true disciples, engage the body, and aspire with purpose. The book is then divided into four parts where he explains what he means.
Tell the Story. “Churches with healthy worship cultures start right there—with a clear vision of Jesus and songs that teach about him and admonish the church with his Word.” “Healthy worship ministries give testimony to the stories of God’s grace at work in his people, and to the story of grace revealed in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.”
Make true disciples. “Healthy worship cultures understand the role music has in discipleship and orchestrate their ministry to fulfill that mission.” “Leaders are wise to identify just what they are aiming for as they execute their strategy. If they are aiming at music balance—whether through multiple services of varying styles or a blended approach in the same service—they may or may not be contributing to the overall mission of the church, even if they’re hitting the target they’ve set for themselves.”
Engage the body. “Healthy congregational worship ministries place a high value on congregational engagement. When they evaluate the impact of this work, they consider the active involvement of the people in the worship gathering to be one of the key metrics to consider.”
Aspire with purpose. Churches need leaders who “aspire for excellence, but with purpose, and every decision they make is intended to move the body of believers toward the realization of that purpose. Most of all, they aspire for the worship in their church to be focused on much more important things than music styles and song choices.”
I appreciated the book because it focuses on the big picture. It is not about songs, styles, pacing, staging, or any of the other issues we tend to get consumed over. Instead, the book gets back to the foundation of what we do and why we do it. The book is well written, thought provoking, and encouraging.
Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program http://www.bhbloggers.com/. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.