Today Crossway is officially releasing my new book, True Worshipers. It’s been a long time coming.
My first book, Worship Matters, was published in April 2008. It was supposed to be aimed at a general audience. But after reading my first draft, my pastor and friend C.J. Mahaney wisely observed that I was trying to address pastors, music leaders, musicians, church members, and non-Christians, all at the same time. To say it was scattered would be kind.
So I narrowed my focus. I imagined sitting across the table from a 20 something individual who wanted to serve the church with his musical gifts but lacked theological training. Worship Matters was the result.
True Worshipers is the book Crossway wanted me to write seven years ago. It’s for anyone who wants to understand more biblically how the worship of our meetings relates to the worship of our lives. It’s for those who want to be the kind of worshiper God says He’s seeking.
A Few Misconceptions
True Worshipers isn’t meant for musicians. I mean, hopefully musicians will read it, but it’s really for anyone. For years I’ve been struck by the fact that millions of Christians (or so it seems) equate worship with singing. And yet in the conversation where Jesus defines what it means to be a “true worshiper,” music is nowhere in sight. Maybe worship encompasses more than we thought.
We often think of “worship” primarily as what we feel and do, then evaluate ourselves and others on our performance. Were we passionate enough? Did we get the liturgy right? Were our emotions appropriately stirred? Did we sense something other worldly? True worshipers see worship more as God’s gift of Himself to us rather than an effort to win his favor or justify ourselves.
In True Worshipers I talk about the essence of worship, which I believe is exaltation. Along with breathing, worship is the most natural thing we do. We’re always looking for something or someone to fulfill us, comfort us, satisfy our longings, or make us happy. Athletes exalt their strength or agility. Scholars and philosophers exalt their intellect. Politicians exalt their savvy. Scientists exalt their rationality. Billionaires exalt their financial security. Actors and rock stars exalt their fame. But no one is more exalted than God. No one. Every knee and every thought will one day bow before the blazing glory of Jesus Christ. Which is why true worshipers look for every opportunity to magnify, lift up, make much of, and exalt Him now.
It Never Gets Old
For those who’ve read Worship Matters, True Worshipers will feel like familiar territory. I’m not breaking any new ground in this book. But that’s okay. The ground of God’s glory in the gospel of Jesus Christ is worth digging into deeper and exploring with endless delight as we mine the riches of being numbered among the worshipers of God. In light of our increasingly isolated and independent culture, I try to build faith for gathering together with the church, pointing out the inconsistency of worship being “just me and Jesus.” We look at the horizontal aspects of gathering, especially singing, and I suggest ways we can expect to encounter the presence of God’s Spirit without losing our biblical moorings.
The book ends with an extended meditation on what awaits us in the new heavens and the new earth. Those Jesus has redeemed from every tribe, language, people, and nation will be home. Not one will be missing. All our arguments, philosophizing, questions, musings, and wonderings about worship will be over. And all that will be left is wonder – that we’re standing “blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). Every pain, temptation, sadness, trial, sickness, and sin – gone. Forever loved by our God and Savior whose beauty, goodness, and wisdom far exceed our wildest imaginings. Yes, we’ll have cause for GREAT joy.
And thinking about that day and what God did to insure we’ll be there is meant to bring us great joy now. Which is a primary reason I wrote this book.
True worshipers. If God is seeking them, I want to be numbered among them. I trust you do, too. And because of the lavish mercy and grace He’s shown us in Jesus Christ, we can be.
Bob, I just ordered your new book. Having read Worship Matters through a few times, I am looking forward to delving deeper into “familiar territory”and hearing God’s message in a fresh and new way. Thank you for your desire to be biblically sound and to help us become true worshipers of our Lord and Savior.
Paul, thanks for your encouraging words!