Calls to Worship: A Pocket Resource by Robert I. Vasholz.
Christian Focus Publications (Scotland, UK), 2009. 137 pages.
Based on the premise that God calls us to worship, this small book contains many calls directly from Scripture to be used at the beginning of worship. It is organized into three sections: first, calls to worship for special occasions (including the church calendar); second, calls for the pastor and congregational response; and third, calls given by the pastor only. All are direct quotes from Scripture, either one verse or a combination of verses.
This is a helpful resource for the worship leader, pastor, or chaplain who wishes to use a variety of appropriate Scripture texts to invite people to worship.
Great Prayers of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann.
Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. 142 pages.
This book begins with an informative introduction to the prayers of Israel. Brueggemann explores twelve Old Testament prayers offered by well-known characters. He discusses each prayer in its context as well as in relation to the rest of Scripture and to our lives today. Brueggemann suggests that “conventional Western theology has caused our prayers to be anemic and polite, without urgent expectation.” The church today can learn from the desperation, urgency, and courage of the prayers of Israel. Each chapter is followed by several questions for reflection and discussion and could be used by a small group. This study of prayer and Old Testament characters could serve as a useful springboard for a sermon series.
Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture by Max McLean and Warren Bird.
Zondervan, 2009. 174 pages.
McLean shares his passion for Scripture and his desire for readers to make it come alive. He asks, “When a congregation gathers for worship, various spiritually minded people bring skill, training, and rehearsal to the music and teaching portions; why not do the same to the Scripture reading as well?” This book contains clear advice and suggestions for the public reading of the Bible. Included are useful tips for involving children and youth in intergenerational worship. The book concludes with a chapter called “What to Do Next,” pointing again to the practicality of the information shared. An instructional DVD that comes with the book includes helpful demonstrations to help you develop a ministry of Scripture reading in your church.
Sent and Gathered: A Worship Manual for the Missional Church by Clayton J. Schmit.
Baker Academic, 2009. 219 pages.
This book is a well-thought-out discussion of worship and the mission of the church as it has developed historically and can lead us into the future. In the introduction, the author states that this book “seeks to be a part of an ongoing discussion by liturgiologists and practical theologians who want Christian worship to have a distinct character in the twenty-first century yet a clear connection to the practices of the millennia that precede it.”
Part 1 is a theological and historical look at worship and the mission of God. Part 2, “A Worship Manual for the Missional Church,” offers suggestions for specific parts of the worship service, from the gathering time to the sending. These suggestions are intended for use in a wide range of liturgical communities, including traditional, free, and those in between. Schmidt concludes with a prayer that the church “will find reconciliation . . . as we learn to listen to one another and learn to use best practices and forms, whether they come from history, ecumenical opponents, or the insights of artists and children.”
Reviewed by Diane Dykgraaf (firstname.lastname@example.org), assistant to the Music and Worship editor at Faith Alive. Diane has served as a worship planner and leader for many years.