Friday, June 27, 2008

Book Review: Return to Worship

Have you ever wanted to read a thoughtful discussion on the topic of worship. A book that does not simply argue for the authors preferences or that is not obsessed with the war of style. In Ron Owens book we get substance over style in a very thoughtful and helpfully provacative book.

The book is divided into two parts written in the form of letters. The first part is the collection of letters to the church; it is also serves as the theological portion of the book where he defines his understanding of worship. There are a great many principles in this portion of the book that would point us toward health as individuals and as churches. Part 2 is a collection of letters to those involved in leading worship; it also serves the purpose of applying the theological conclusions of the first part in a more practical manner. This part of the book would be helpful for church leaders to give to those invovled in leading worship at the churches they serve.

Chapter 15 is a must read. There Owens points out the common evangelical mistake of thinking that we go to church to receive. The truth is that we go to church to serve. We are called to build one another up in our gathered times.

Owens also rightly points out the power of music and the dangers of manipulation. We can easily lead people to an emotional response through musical manipulation. He does a good job of showing how this has been common knowledge throughout history and how some Christian leaders consciously took advantage of this reality to make converts who were not real converts at all. This also creates an unhealthy dynamic in a church. People confuse this emotional manipulation with the work of the Holy Spirit and this conditions them to think that they are not close to God because their emotions are not at fever pitch. It also creates an unhealthy expectation for worship services. People come expecting to be emotionally lifted and when this does not happen no matter how much Christ was exalted through song and Word, the service was a flop.

Ron Owens has written a gem for our benefit. The book is very beneficial for church leaders and is written in such a way that all readers would benefit from this book.

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