Dr. Chapell has given us a gift, the gift is this thoughtful book on why The Church worships the way it does and what importance each element of the worship experience has for us. My son had the privilege of attending Covenant Seminary and taking courses from Dr. Chapell. He told me about this book as well as Christ Centered Preaching. I have had this book on my shelf for about a year and just now got around to reading it (partly at the encouragement of our new lead pastor).
Dr. Chapell takes Part 1 of the book to explore the history of liturgy and how The Church has structured its worship services for 2,000 years. He compares the Roman Catholic church with the movements by Martin Luther and John Calvin. It is interesting to note how liturgy is not that different from one church structure to the next. Dr. Chapell points out that Martin Luther was not trying to re-write the Catholic Church, but he was trying to improve on it through the structure of the worship experience. But as he did that he came to realize that he had a difference of opinion with the Catholic's on doctrine and theology. That then shaped the Protestant movement where a major difference in theology took place. But surprisingly enough there was not a major shift in the order and style of liturgy.
From here Dr. Chapell then explains the Westminster Catechism and it's liturgical style as well as that formed by Robert Rayburn during the 1980's. What is amazing is that over the period of 2,000 years liturgy has not evolved in a way that it looks totally different today than when the early church started to meet. The main elements are still the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Upper Room. These two elements are easily defined as the ministry of the sermon and the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.
But as Dr. Chapell points out many times people are confused about our worship services. They think that the time of singing, prayer, reading of scripture and moments of testimony are just the preliminary work leading up to the real work of the Sermon. But as each of major liturgies show our time of the Liturgy of the Word starts from the opening call to worship and music until the end of the service with the Benediction. All of the time is "worship" and important for our relationship with the Lord.
In Part 2 of the book Dr. Chapell moves on to "Gospel Worship Resources." He gives examples for each of the different aspects of our worship experience. He explains the ins and outs of how to plan a worship experience and the importance of the flow of the service to help the church of God fully worship and express their adoration and love for God.
From the opening invocation to the expression of our sinful state and nature to our expression of adoration and thanksgiving to the ministry of the word Dr. Chapell gives us good outlines, structure and examples that will help us to plan and lead our congregations into meaningful worship experiences.
This book will be a valuable tool for every worship leader and preaching pastor who wants to guide their flock into Christ Centered Worship experiences. While the book is expressly a textbook it doesn't read like a boring textbook. Instead it reads as a great review of our historical roots and an expression of how we, The Church, has not truly changed at all from it's structural roots of worship. Instead we hold to the true tradition of worship and help our current culture learn how the Lord is relevant even in today's community.
This book will be a great help for laymen as well as pastors to learn how we can best express our worship to God and gain meaningful insight through the process.