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Posts Tagged ‘Westminster Assembly’


Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching is one of the better books on preaching.  It would be easy to get worn down in the nuts and bolts of that book and miss the big picture that Chapell is trying to convey.

The same could be said for his newest book, Christ-Centered Worship.  It is not a nuts and bolts book (unlike his book on preaching).  It focuses on the big picture of worship, which is becoming quite rare these days.  His goal is not to advocate any particular form of worship- but rather to communicate that the gospel should shape our worship so that it shapes us.  If the gospel is not shaping our worship, then our worship (which really won’t be worship after all) is shaping us into something it should not.

“We consider the history because God does not give all of his wisdom to any one time or people.  Slavish loyalty to traditions will keep us from ministering effectively to our generation, but trashing the past entirely denies God’s purposes for the church on which we must build.”

So, Chapell tries to walk that fine line of being instructed by not enslaved by the past.   Chapell begins by comparing the liturgies of the Western Church to show how alike they tend to be.  He doesn’t want to ignore the differences between them, but focuses on the big picture- that the liturgies themselves are designed to present the gospel each week.  It is because we have forgotten that the gospel is to shape our worship that we have some many problems with worship.

“Because they have not been taught to think of the worship service as having gospel purposes, people instinctively think of its elements only in terms of personal preference: what makes me feel good, comfortable, or respectful.”

The particular liturgies he examines are that of Rome (pre-1570), Luther’s, Calvin’s, the Westminster liturgy and one proposed by Robert Rayburn in the late 20th century.  To most American evangelicals, these will seem quite foreign because we have mostly abandoned liturgies of the past.  We have done this not realizing they were intended to communicate the gospel.  As a result, worship in America is often devoid of the gospel.  It becomes more about styles and preferences.

The pattern they had in common is one of Adoration => Call to Worship=> Confession of Sin => Scripture Reading=> Sermon=> Singing of a Creed, Psalm or Hymn=> Offering=> Communion => Song of Response=> Benediction.

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