Worship changes who we are as we pursue who God is.
This opening sentence is a descriptive prelude to all that Gareth shares from his heart in this compelling book on worship. Many people confine worship to what they experience on Sunday morning, specifically the music. But this book's subtitle - "where worship and life intersect" - expresses an important truth.
I have been involved in local church worship ministry for over 50 years, and I initially thought that Worship Walk would just be another book among many written on the topic of worship. However, I was pleasantly surprised to be quickly caught up in the various aspects of our daily lives that Gareth spotlights "through the lens of worship," as Kevin Boese wrote in his endorsement. And that's exactly how it should be, as worship encompasses all of life - not just music and not just worship services. Someone once said that if worship doesn't take place Monday through Friday, then it will never happen on Sunday.
Corporate and private worship are intertwined, but I like this book's emphasis on worship that takes place outside the doors of the church. Gareth writes in a comfortable style that is easy to understand, and includes Scripture references and personal examples.
Chapter 6, which focuses on silence, is one of my favorites. I had to smile when he talked about our efforts today to have no dead space during the service, for that is exactly what we've done. "There was a time when silence and reflection were part of the gathered worship experience - meditating on a Scripture passage, silent prayer, time to wait quietly and allow God to speak. And when he did, there was time to wrestle with and respond to his prompting." Gareth goes on to mention being drawn to the echoing silence of stone walls in European cathedrals. I've been blessed to visit some of these beautiful cathedrals myself and have experienced exactly what he describes: "There are many factors that give the feeling of awesomeness: the age of the building, the height of the ceilings, the architecture, the artwork, the stained glass. But more than that, there is a sense of silence, of quiet reflection. People who walk into the building talk in hushed whispers." Is a time of reflective silence missing in our churches today? I definitely think so.
I also have to mention an inspiring little exercise that Gareth encourages us to do in Chapter 12. Referring to the last line of "Shout to the Lord" that says, "Nothing compares to the promise I have in you," Gareth asks: " What promises make you want to shout out in praise?" Here are some of the answers he gives:
Heb 13:5 - Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
John 14:3 - I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
1 John 4:4 - The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Rom 8:38-39 - Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Worship Walk is a book that I will come back to often. It would even work well for Bible study or quiet times. I am glad to recommend this book to every reader.
I'll close with a few impactful quotations from Worship Walk:
"Worship draws our attention from ourselves to God, enabling us to begin to see things from his perspective."
"As the church has become more comfortable within itself, confession has been pushed aside."
"As we grow in prayer, we begin to wrestle with who we really are before a holy God - not who we carefully allow others to see."
"True worship, like true worshippers, never stays in the church."
"Confession is worship that frees and heals us."
"Our time of freedom of expression and worship is coming to an end - even in our tolerant society - because the one thing tolerant societies cannot stand are absolutes."
This book was provided by BookFun.org and Gareth J. Goossen in exchange for my honest review.