In Christ-Centered Worship Chapell sets out to define and describe what Christ-Centered worship should look like, its historical roots, and the application of it in the local church. I was very excited to read this book as a lay person who loves to study theology and history. The gospel should always shape our practices and I was hoping this title by Chapell would give me more insight as to how we should structure our corporate worship. I must say that I was blown away by both the depth and readability of this book. This book combines both the structural background and history of worship and also practical ways to “flesh” this out in a church service. Chapell does a wonderful job of making the technical and historical sections of this book very appealing to read.
This book is divided into two parts. Part one discusses the historical framework of worship. Chapell spends time examining and explaining the structure of worship from the Catholic church (pre Council of Trent), Martin Luther, John Calvin, Westminster and a Modern model. Chapell does a wonderful job explaining the form of worship in each structure and compares their similarities and differences. His use of charts throughout this first section is very helpful. The charts show the structure of worship and as he begins to compare them to each other they provide a wonderful visual to clearly see what Chapell is trying to point out. The last six chapters of this section all build on the theme of Christ-Centered worship and what this looks like in a local worship service, its parts and its purpose. Chapell states, "Right worship of God requires recognition of the glories of His nature; and true recognition of God's glory always causes awareness of human need that can only be met by God's provision. True recognition of God's character and ours creates an interplay of doxology and dependance - of honor and humility - which are defining marks of Christian worship. We do not have to insist on a particular order of worship elements or a particular style of expression to create authentic Christian worship. But what we cannot avoid, if we are to worship God rightly, are the dynamics of the Gospel." This summarizes what the author is trying to get across in the entire first section of this book. Although style and structure may vary, the content should “re-present” the gospel and communicate grace.
In part two of this book Chapell provides a practical help on how to “flesh” this out in a service. He walks the reader through the different parts of the service: Call to Worship, Affirmation of Faith, Confession of Sin, Assurance of Pardon, Rubrics: Transitions, Historic Components, Scripture Reading, Christ-centered Sermons, Benedictions and Charges. He has already given the historical defense for these and now he guides the reader through what these can and will look like in a Christ-Centered Worship service. This sections is highly practical and comes with some wonderful helps at the end of the section in the form of worship service examples and some music written by Chapell. This book definitely delivers and should be a must read for all pastors/elders and those who lead worship services, but is also highly beneficial for any lay person interested in Christ-Centered Worship.
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I received a free copy of this book from Baker Academic in exchange for an honest review.