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But what is it?
Is it singing?
A church service?
All of life?
Seeking to help Christians think more theologically about the nature of true worship, Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship tells the Story of the Gospel shows how the gospel is all about worship and worship is all about the gospel. Mike Cosper ultimately answers the question:
What exactly is worship?
Number of Pages: 176
Publication Date: 2013
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)|
Mike Cosper is the director of the Harbor Institute for Faith and Culture, where he works to create resources for Christians living in a post-Christian world. Prior to that, he was a founding pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he served for sixteen years as the pastor of worship and arts.
Pastor, The Village Church; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network
Mike Cosper is uniquely gifted as both a musician and a pastor to speak into the culture where art and church meet and mesh. This is an important book for folks thinking about what it is to be a musician, a worship leader, and everything in between. The historic question of how we worship on Sunday and with our lives is an important one to keep asking because the songs we sing have the power to shape who we are and who we will become as individuals and as a community.
Years ago, A. W. Tozer remarked that worship was the missing jewel of the evangelical church. Since that time, evangelicals have been engaged in an urgent and sometimes feverish struggle to determine the nature of true biblical worship. In Rhythms of Grace, Mike Cosper takes us back to first principles and roots his understanding of worship deeply within the context of the Christian gospel. This is a book that will offer much to Christians and church leaders seeking to understand worship. It is both biblical and deeply practical, and it is written by an author who has deep experience in the worship life of a thriving and faithful congregation.
-R. Albert Mohler Jr.,
President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Mike’s Rhythms of Grace was like sitting across the table from someone you need to be listening to. In this season of the Church, there is some confusion on why and what a worship leader is and does. This book brings great clarity to that confusion. As someone who aims to see song leaders become worship leaders and worship leaders become worship pastors, I found this to be a key read. This will be an important piece in training new leaders, and a great reminder to more seasoned leaders, to sing the gospel and above all, highlight Jesus.
Worship and arts director, Frontline Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I know of no one more insightful on questions of worship than Mike Cosper, and I know of no one more gifted to articulate a Christ-focused, Kingdom-directed, Spirit-driven sense of what it means to worship in the presence of the triune God. Read this book and see if it does not drive you to re-pattern your worship to fit the full rejoicing, lamenting, raging force of the biblical adoration of the triune God.
-Russell D. Moore,
Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Tempted and Tried
When Mike Cosper writes, I read. And even though I'm not a pastor and don't play the guitar, I learned a lot from him about how the gospel of grace shapes our rhythms of congregational worship. Pick up this book and benefit from his biblical wisdom and pastoral experience.
Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; coauthor, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir
This book challenges worship leaders not merely to announce a gospel of grace in Jesus Christ, but to begin to discover how that gospel reshapes every dimension and element of worship. It invites readers into a world where theology and practice, belief and action are intimately intertwined—where every practice reflects and then reinforces a theological vision, and every doctrine both grounds and sharpens practices. Who better to offer this challenge and invitation than a reflective practitioner who considers it a joy to discern the implications of this gospel of grace for a host of practical concerns, week by week, year by year?
Director, Professor, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary
The story of the Gospel is one that must be emphasized again and again in worship. In Rhythms of Grace, Mike Cosper outlines the narrative of our hope, the order of our praise and importance of our worship to every gathering of believers.
President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom
I can’t overstate my excitement about Mike Cosper’s new book, Rhythms of Grace. This practical volume represents the many years my good friend has spent in serious theological reflection, doxological engagement, and faithful service in the Body of Christ—at Sojourn Church and well beyond. Mike’s passion for God’s glory and God’s worship are evidenced on every page. In particular, I’m thankful for how Mike helps us plan our services of worship in light of the history of redemption and the riches of God’s grace. Liturgy isn’t a four-letter word; it’s the storyboard, which helps us connect with God’s commitment to redeem people, places and things, through the person and work of Jesus. I will use Mike’s tremendous book in the seminary classes I teach on worship; but I will also place it in the hands of seasoned worship leaders and young congregants alike. Thanks dear brother, for your art and heart!
Founding Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, Tennessee; author, The Reign of Grace, Restoring Broken Things, and Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith
We don’t need another book telling us how to do worship to grow our church or connect with our culture. We need historical rootedness, not contemporary fads. We need to be taught so that we can teach the church to worship along with the storyline of the gospel.
Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; author, For the City and Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission
The greatest composers are gifted synthesizers. They have the ability to weave what they’ve heard and learned and experienced in the past into their own musical story. If Rhythms of Grace were a symphony, the critics would hail it as a masterful work of synthesis—a fusion of biblical, historical, cultural and philosophical elements into an engaging, challenging and thoughtful treatment of worship. At the end of this work, you’ll also be able to sing the primary thematic motive—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Senior Associate Dean, School of Church Ministries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
For the glory and enjoyment of God, the health of the church, and the spread of the gospel—this is why you should read Rhythms of Grace, by Mike Cosper. Inside this book Mike proves to be a good pastor giving us a practical theology of worship that cautions against and corrects error, while shepherding us toward a more biblically faithful understanding and experience of worship in the church gathered and scattered.
author, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself; Lead Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship, St. Charles, Illinois
An important contribution to the discussion among many younger evangelicals about worship and liturgy. Mike writes with grace, and a wisdom beyond his years. Frankly, I am amazed by the amount of ground he manages to cover! Mike introduces many to ideas and thinkers that all in the evangelical world should know. Mike has set a lofty goal, painting a picture of liturgy as a beautiful way, and I believe he succeeds. For anyone nervous about exploring the world of liturgy, Mike is a gentle and wise companion.
Campus Minister, RUF; Founder, Indelible Grace Music
Mike Cosper has written a book that is both easily accessible and also deeply challenging for anyone who wants to see worship flourish in their congregation. Rhythms of Grace is a must-read—especially for church musicians and pastors who desire to deepen in their understanding of how worship shapes and forms individuals and communities.
Founder, Bifrost Arts
For many churches, having a well thought out approach to how to lead music is woefully lacking. This needs to change, and this book will surely help. Rhythms of Grace will be a book that I will rely on in the future to develop music leaders for our church and the churches we plant. Clear, beautifully written, theologically grounded yet very practically helpful, and completely gospel-centered—this is a book for pastors and music leaders alike. In fact, I would get two copies so that pastors and musicians can read it together!
Pastor, The Vine Church
Vernon Thornton5 Stars Out Of 5good and thought provokingJanuary 17, 2015Vernon ThorntonI would recommend this to anyone wanting to think afresh what worship is all about. Regardless if you agree with the author on everything, you will still walk away with thinking more deeply about our lives as worshipers.
JudeLondon, ONAge: 35-44Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Informative and inspiring, poetical and practicalMay 22, 2013JudeLondon, ONAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Book Review - Rhythms of Grace
J. I. Packer, in the introduction to David Wells' book God the Evangelist, declared that believers "need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian." Now, the word worship is certainly a deep and multifaceted idea that stretches far beyond the music played at a church service. But it is exactly this, the music one hears and participates in on Sunday, which is most often meant by those using the word. And though I'd like to think that I am a worshiper, I must admit that the singing and music that occurs when we gather as Christians is not something that comes natural to me.
That is why a book like Rhythms of Grace by Mike Cosper is so valuable to me. It takes me into a realm that I am a little uneasy in, and makes me feel comfortable and even conversant in its concepts. I found Cosper's book to be both poetical and practical. At one moment the pages would flow in a symphony of words conveying the wonder of worship. The next page would discuss helpful applications in a straightforward and simple manner. For someone like me, this presented worship in a way that was accessible and inspirational.
In my reading and analyzing of the book, I noticed three distinct sections: chapters 1-4 presents worship in a Biblical-historical framework; chapter 5 dealt with Cosper's perspective on corporate worship; and chapters 6-10 focus on matters of application.
The first two sentences of chapter one delineates the approach the author will take in the first four chapters as he firmly anchors worship in history: "The gospel is a story about worship. It begins with promise and serenity, spins wildly and terribly off course, and is rescued in the most unexpected and surprising way possible" (25). With this course directing start, Cosper tells the story of worship in the Biblical narrative.
In chapter one Cosper presents the intra-Trinitarian worship of the Godhead as they ascribe worth to each other. He introduces us to humans in Eden who experience harmonious and blissful worship in the Garden before the Fall where sin makes worship a newly unnatural activity. Chapter two looks at worship in a context where separation from God has taken place and demonstrates that we humans are worshipers and our worship can mistakenly be directed towards idols or properly directed to God. Chapter three paints a picture of worship in Israel through the time of the patriarchs, the Exodus, and the development of the cultic rituals of the Jews. Cosper looks at how we relate to God in a fallen world. Chapter four proclaims the reordering of worship in the redemption wrought by Christ. He becomes our worship leader and priest and reconciles us to God.
This section of the book was very enjoyable to read as worship was eloquently weaved through the ages of redemptive history. These chapters were some of the most poetical, and I found them informative and inspiring.
In chapter 5, a very helpful chapter for me, the author presents his perspective on worship in the here and now. He introduces a memorable construct he employs for understanding worship and church life. This framework can "answer a lot of the questions, confusion, and challenges" (75) that are part of church worship. For Cosper, Worship One, Two, Three is a paradigm that teaches the following: worship has one object and author, two contexts, and three audiences. The author and object of worship is God. The contexts are Worship Scattered (for the believer everything is worship) and Worship Gathered (worship occurs when the Church gathers). The three audiences are God, the Church, and the World. I found this chapter profoundly profitable. I will return to some of these ideas regularly.
Chapters six through ten delve into practical applications of the material the author has presented thus far. Chapter six looks at how worship is spiritual formation and how we work in and at worship. Worship is also war towards the world and the lies that we face every day. Chapter seven explains in practical terms how we arrived at our current state of worship in North American Christianity. Chapter eight entails insight into parts of the worship service and how they come together. The ninth chapter considers singing and music whereas chapter ten presents the pastoral aspects of leading worship. These chapters were very informative and interesting. They would be of particular importance to those directly involved in worship ministries.
The practicality of this book is enhanced by several appendices which include information on service orders, worship resources, and technical aspects.
I found this to be a book that was informative and inspiring, poetical and practical. I plan on lending it to friends who serve in worship ministries and recommend it to anyone who aspires to understand and appreciate worship in the church and in our lives.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for reviewing.