Carol M. Noren. Westminster/ John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1992.109 pages. $8.95.
The author, an assistant professor of Homiletics at the Divinity School at Duke University, writes this book as a study guide to help Christians understand what corporate worship is supposed to be. The premises upon which the book rests are that (1) most regular church attenders do not know what is supposed to happen in a Christian worship service, (2) worshipers should be participants in the service instead of mere observers, and (3) lay participation requires an understanding of what worship is supposed to be.
This study guide could be helpful for a church worship committee that is starting on the ground floor in its attempt to understand and enhance the worship experience. It may also prove a useful study guide for small groups of adults. Each of the six chapters ends with a set of questions designed to help members evaluate their own worship services.
The first chapter, titled "Why We Are Here," discusses the purpose of worship and relates the results of a survey that asked regular church attenders why they came to worship. The responses reveal a wide variety of reasons.
After alerting the readers to what they should anticipate in worship, the author proceeds to discuss such topics as lay participation in worship, the message conveyed by the space where worship is held, the music used in worship, the role of the sermon in worship, and the liturgy of each service.
Although the book is not difficult to read, a class or worship committee that uses this study should have an able leader. Even more important is that the pastor be open to considering changes that the group might suggest to strengthen and enhance the worship experience.
Worship is a sensitive activity that requires mature leadership in order to avoid frustration and disappointment for the worshipers. But if a church is ready to examine its worship services and discover a sound theology of worship, this study can be a helpful guide.