Maybe the ‘Teacher’ of Ecclesiastes had in mind the modern fascination with preaching and worship when he said, ‘be warned: there is no end to the making of many books,’ because scroll through these topic pages wherever you buy your Christian books and you’ll be overwhelmed by the choices. So it was with cautious intrigue that I opened the parcel that held William Taylor’s new take on an old topic—Revolutionary Worship—I wondered just how many revolutions the church would have to endure on this topic. I mean, I’m only now beginning to heal from the Worship Wars of the ’90’s, I wasn’t sure I was ready to wade back into the fray again.
But Revolutionary is an apt descriptor to use for this particular book on worship. Taylor isn’t asking us to adapt or die, he’s not proposing a new program or initiative, he isn’t even preaching from a soapbox about the dangers of modern ‘light-weight worship services.’ This is a revolution of perception; a gentle deconstruction of language and concepts that have shaped the monolithic culture of worship that exists within the institutionalised Church.
The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus has revolutionised our worship such that it involves the whole of our lives.
This book was born from the pulpit, a carefully crafted offering that was first tested among the pews of St Helens Bishopsgate, London, and it shows—both in the gentle but thoughtful pastoral tone of the writing, and also in the structure of the book itself, which resembles a series of five exegetical style sermons. Each chapter roots itself in a central passage of Scripture, and from there, ripples out into ever expanding applications of thought and practice. In fact, Taylor states himself that there really is only one point to this book, albeit restated five times: ‘… the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus has revolutionised our worship such that it involves the whole of our lives.’
This works itself out in the chapters that make up the book:
- ‘Pleasing Worship’ asks us to tarry a while beside a well in Samaria as we learn the lessons needed to point our worship in the right direction.
- ‘Spiritual Worship’ explores the themes around being a living sacrifice, asking if defining worship by experiences is really what Paul had in mind.
- ‘Awesome Worship’ poses the tension we all feel—the tension the recipients of the book of Hebrews felt—to replace the object of our worship with the process of worship itself.
- ‘Infectious Worship’ follows Peter’s exhortation, delivered among scattered Christians, to see our response to who Jesus is as having an infiltrating effect on every spare of life.
- ‘Corporate Worship?’ asks an important question—where does all this leave us as we consider the implications of what so many people think of as a ‘worship service’ when the church gathers together?
If you’re a Pastor looking for the next trend in worship services that will reinvigorate your church, you may be disappointed in this book at first. But stick with it. You might find that the thing you’re looking for can actually be found here; but probably not in the way you imagine. Pastor or not, this is a subject we all need to grapple with: what is truly meant by how the Bible talks about worship? Taylor holds our hand as he tries to answer that question, walking us through pivotal Biblical passages and, like a trustworthy guide, points the way forward.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was challenged at a devotional level in my own response to the rule and redemption of Christ (spoiler alert: this is an important principle). I was also provoked to reevaluate my own thinking about how I’m shepherding the flock well through this revolutionary approach to worship. I’ve happily added this book to my list of recommendations given to young pastors, and would gladly give it to anyone who desired to grow in their understanding of worship.
Maybe it is true, maybe the proliferation of books on worship is wearisome, but William Taylor’s Revolutionary Worship will not add to the burden, in fact, I’m confident you would find it a joy.