Monday, August 30, 2010

QUICK REVIEW: The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services

I've been teaching a Theology and Worship course for four years now and have struggled to find the right readings because, as Paul Westermeyer and Charlotte Kroeker both agree, the study of Church music is vastly interdisciplinary. While I delight in the theoretical questions that surround the church and its musical culture, when we get down to the rubber hitting the road applications like the order of service, song selection, and congregational participation, The Worship Architect serves us well.

Honestly, I typically have an 'allergic reaction' to prescriptive ministry texts. While the book is filled with lists and lists of practical questions and ideas, it avoids being pedantically heavy handed. Cherry's intent is to direct our attention to the important issues that must be addressed in order to plan our services well and she does this efficiently. The exhaustive content may be dizzying for my students but it is a valuable reference to have on hand for leaders. The book is worth its price if only for the concise list of questions for evaluating a worship song. I had groups of my student leaders use this in a training retreat last week and there was much fruit from their discussions and discernment.

The theological content in the first half of the text (Cherry's "four load bearing walls") may be relatively cursory, it serves as a good primer for opening the discussion of liturgical theology for novices--for the college student.

This will be an important book for training worship leaders from both traditional and contemporary churches but especially the contemporary. With the boom of contemporary worship in the last 20-30 years we need to expect more from our contemporary leaders than to be talented, winsome and spirit-filled. Many of the books with this kind of liturgical content are written in a tone and vocabulary that will only preach to their respective choirs. But Cherry's approach is accessible and ecumenical and will help contemporary leaders conceive a substantial approach to worship planning, a weighty respect for each part of a service and an appropriate discernment essential to leading well.

[p.s. thanks to Matt Westerholm for catching my typo. It is just as loving to tell someone when they have a booger,  food in their teeth, a button undone or a fly unzipped.]

1 comment:

Living Palm said...

Thank you for this review. I listened to Dr. Cherry teach on participatory worship through Calvin's website and that small lecture has been formative for our worship. I imagine this book would be an even greater resource.