Though we are 2,000 years past the founding of the New Testament church, we are seemingly still confused about how we ought to worship God. There are many competing philosophies of worship, many disagreements about everything from its purpose to its God-ordained elements and methods. We know we must worship, but we so often don’t know how.
It is for this reason that we continue to see so many new books on the subject and for this reason that we need to. This includes, most recently, H.B. Charles Jr.’s On Worship: A Short Guide to Understanding, Participating in, and Leading Corporate Worship. He confesses that, though he has previously written on preaching and pastoring, he found it surprisingly difficult to write on worship. “I believe I have a biblical philosophy of these [other] ministry subjects. After more than thirty years of experience in pastoring a church and preaching each week, I feel comfortable writing about those subjects. Who, truly, is competent to write about worship? And if writers feel confident that worship is a subject they have thoroughly mastered, should we be reading what they think?”
Though he does not claim to have thoroughly mastered the subject of worship, he has made a long and careful study of the matter and over many years of leading a church has attempted to refine his convictions along Reformed, Protestant lines. The result is On Worship which “is not a theological treatise, biblical study, or comprehensive handbook on worship.” Neither is it meant to be. It is instead “more like a compass than a road map” that “seeks to point you in the right direction.”
The three sections and thirty chapters lead to a well-rounded and biblically-faithful understanding of why and how God calls us to worship him. It leaves room for different Christians to worship in ways consistent with their traditions and culture, yet also calls us to ensure that, no matter what, our worship is “shaped and governed by the Word of God. Sacred Scripture should be foundational to all that happens in our public and corporate worship assemblies. Beyond the foundation, however, God’s Word should explicitly structure our worship lives—privately and publicly.”
This is a book that will benefit every Christian, for whether or not we have been called to take a leadership role in worship, it most certainly falls to each one of us to understand it and participate in it.