Corporate Worship: Biblically Understood, Biblically Practiced

One of the best books written on worship, acknowledged by D. A. Carson (“Perhaps the volume that most urgently calls for thoughtful evaluation is the biblical-theological study written by David Peterson,” Worship by the Book [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002], 23), is David G. Peterson’s Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2002; originally published by Eerdmans, 1992). It remains one of the best treatments of the biblical teaching and a biblical theology of worship. I read this book when it was originally published and this biblical and theological teaching profoundly shaped my view/theology and practice of worship.

Peterson has just written another book related to corporate worship, this time focusing on the practical outworking of the biblical truths of worship: Encountering God Together: Leading Worship Services That Honor God, Minister to His People, and Build His Church (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2014). It is the follow up book to his earlier one on the biblical theology of worship. One could consider this a companion volume to his earlier work.

About this, Bob Kauflin, author of Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), a helpful book that focuses on those providing leadership to the corporate worship of God’s people, writes,

Almost fifteen years ago, David Peterson’s book Engaging with God rocked my world. I had never read a book that so effectively combined faithful biblical scholarship with a passion for the gospel and liked both of them to what we call ‘worship’. It remains my number one book to recommend on the theology of worship. His new book, Encountering God Together, is a long-awaited follow-up, providing biblical, practical, and insightful guidelines for thinking through how God wants us to meet with him as we meet with each other. He covers a broad range of topics including prayer, Scripture reading preaching, bodily expression, liturgy, evangelism, and emotions. And as you’d expect, the beauty and power of Christ’s atoning work shine throughout. Tight in all the right places and encouraging biblically informed freedom everywhere else, Encountering God Together should be read by anyone involved in planning or leading gatherings of the church. 

The biblical theology of worship is foundational to the biblical and practical outworking of worship; the biblical and practical outworking of worship is grounded in a biblical theology of worship. I would strongly encourage you to read both of these books in the order they were published. Better yet, I would encourage you to read and discuss with others, especially all those who have a part in teaching, planning and leading corporate worship.

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