In his outstanding book, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, Bryan Chapell writes, “Liturgy tells a story. We tell the gospel by the way we worship.”
That thought influenced the song choices and order for our latest album, The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11, 15 songs that tell the story of the gospel and our appropriate response to it.
In Scripture and history, God’s glory and grace have informed and shaped the way we relate to him. We’re awed by his greatness but attracted by his mercy. We’re undone by his holiness but drawn by his forgiveness. It’s a pattern that’s reflected in Isaiah’s encounter with God in Isaiah 6 as well as the scenes of praise around the throne in the book of Revelation. Beholding God’s glory and encountering his grace lead to going forth in mission – making the glory of God known to others.
Musicians know that when the flow of songs isn’t right, it’s a problem. But meetings are more than music and the gospel affects more than a musical flow. The way God relates to us – by the gospel of grace – is meant to shape the structure, order, and flow of our entire meeting.
That was the thought behind the progression of songs for The Gathering. At WorshipGod11, we interspersed the songs with readings from Scripture and comments that explained the flow of the evening. Here’s how it worked out:
Call to Worship (invitation to celebrate God’s grace)
There is One Reason
Adoration (recognizing God’s greatness and grace)
Greater Than We Can Imagine
Come Praise and Glorify
Confession (our sin and need for grace)
Shine Into Our Night
Have Mercy on Me
Assurance of Pardon (God’s provision of grace)
Now Why This Fear (right click for a free download)
Thanksgiving (gratefulness for God’s grace)
Petition and Intercession (dependence on God’s grace)
When You Move
Preparation to hear God’s Word (our need to grow in the knowledge of grace)
Your Words of Life
Show Us Christ
Consecration (response to God’s grace)
All I Have is Christ
Communion/Fellowship (the grace of union with Christ and his people)
We Hunger and Thirst
Commission (our desire to make God’s grace known)
Lift High the Cross
Benediction (living in the power of grace)
As You Go
I’m increasingly persuaded that we lose direction in our gatherings because we focus primarily on different pieces (songs, announcements, offering, sermon, etc.) rather than the gospel that holds all the pieces together. Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose to redeem sinners and to reconcile them to God (1 Pet. 3:18). We have no greater news to share with the world (1 Cor. 15:1-4). We have no greater power to display (Rom. 1:16). We have no greater message to proclaim (1 Pet. 2:9). Thinking about how the gospel affects not only our songs and sermons, but also the structure, of our meetings will go a long way towards insuring that we’re giving attention to the most important things when we meet.
On a more mundane note, I was excited that all but two of the musicians on The Gathering are from Sovereign Grace churches (it was great to have Ryan Foglesong and Dave Zimmer from Enfield on bass and drums). For some time I’ve wanted to give a platform not only to our songwriters and vocalists, but also to our instrumentalists and arrangers. I’m pretty excited about what our players have come up with.
You can purchase the album from Amazon (6.99), iTunes (9.99), or Bandcamp (9.00) (includes guitars charts and lead sheets). I hope you enjoy listening to and singing these songs as much as we did recording them.
You can download all the lead sheets and guitar charts here.