He thinks this happens best by allowing our services to follow this general movement: Adoration, Confession, Assurance, Thanksgiving, Petition, Instruction, Charge and Benediction (9899). And I can't think of a better way to let the structure of service reflect the truths of the gospel than to follow the movement he proposes. His historical account, compelling argument for "gospel re-presentation," and liturgical resources make this a good book for pastors and worship leaders to have on hand.
Similar to the Christocentric exegesis that is promoted by many today, this is a fractional theory and practice that seeks to glorify the other persons of the Trinity through focusing on the Son. My issue with this method is not that it states that all worship and Scripture is about Christ but rather that it is focused on Christ.
It's basically making sure a worship service contains 8 main pieces: adoration, confession, assurance, thanksgiving, petition, instruction, communion, benediction. And another thing, coming from the Pentecostal heritage we like to leave things open for the Spirit's leading. But, with that, I've always thought that expository preaching could have a meaningful place in our churches to engender the best of both worlds. So when I read Chapell's Christ-Centered Preaching, I was like, oh, here it is! But, now that I read Christ-Centered Worship, I think if we were to do this we'd be taking it too far. And the liturgy makes for a LOT of reading. He doesn't come across as 'my way or the highway.' He's reasonable, sensible, and interesting to read. The second half of the work contains a slew of Scriptures and songs suited for occasions where the components of the liturgy might find a proper place. Given all my unanswered questions regarding the liturgy as a worship model, this book is definitely a keeper.
Using examples from both Scripture and the history of the church, Chapell demonstrates the consistent importance of "telling" the story of the gospel not only in our language, but also in our symbols and even the very the elements our our service.
In every age, including our own, writes Chapell, those who build churches have been forced to consider how their understanding of the gospel gets communicated by the structures in which it is presented (17). Chapell explains that the biblical word for all thats included in our worship is liturgy (latreia, see Romans 12:1), and it simply describes the public way a church honors God in its times of gathered praise, prayer, instruction, and commitment (18). Chapell claims that our goal should not be to replicate historical liturgies, but to learn how the church has used worship to fulfill gospel purposes through the ages so that we can intelligently design worship services that will fulfill gospel purposes today (21). The first half of the book explores common elements found in Catholic, Reformed, and modern liturgies, then proceeds to explore several factors that should influence how we structure our services today. These consistent elements are summarized as: Recognition of Gods Character (Adoration) Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession) Affirmation of Grace (Assurance) Expression of Devotion (Thanksgiving) Desire for Aid in Living for God (Petition and Intercession) Acquiring Knowledge for Pleasing God (Instruction from Gods Word) Communing with God and His People (Communion) Living unto God with His Blessing (Charge and Benediction) (118) Chapell conceives of the corporate worship service as nothing more, nothing less, than a re-presentation of the gospel in the presence of God and his people for his glory and their good (120). While church leaders have a responsibility to preserve the necessary elements of the gospel story, these gospel truths will not lead to worship or transformation into the image of Christ if people cannot understand them. In addition to considering the necessities and capacities of the congregation, Chapell advocates a horizontal dimension in the worship service that reflects Gods love to one another through sharing our praise, praying for one another, corporately confessing sin, encouraging one another in song, collecting alms, receiving instruction together, demonstrating concern for the lost, and communing together (120). Chapell has provided a rare combination of historical perspective, biblical theology, sensible advice, and practical resources that set Christ-Centered Worship apart from every other book on worship that I have read.
"Christ-Centered Worship" by Bryan Chapell shows how the liturgy of a church's weekly gathering/service can be structured so as to conform to the contours of the gospel. By referring to two things, the church's liturgy in history and descriptions of people meeting God in the Bible, he shows how the good news is such that it tends to shape the containers in which God places it. After making that point, the second section of the book provides helpful resources for the gospel-shaped services he argues for. Bob Kauflin, one of the main worship leaders for Sovereign Grace Ministries, makes points in his teaching that fill in where this book is lacking. In our concern for structuring our services in a gospel shape, we should expect God to move and work among us, which may involve some necessary changes in what we think is a well-planned liturgy. Chapell himself says that the point is not to have a perfectly planned service, but for people to meet God, repent of their sins, and cherish the Savior with his transforming, loving, and missional power and glory. If the gospel is what we want presented and re-presented, then the main thing worship leaders need is not to study liturgy (as helpful as that can be), but to cherish Christ, clothed with his own gospel. If we can agree that any given liturgy can be more or less gospel-shaped, can we not also take that Sunday morning thing and apply it to other forms of worship? If we can shape our gathered worship, then why not also shape our alone time with God? If we can have gospel-shaped worship for the gathered church, then why should we not also strive to have that same thing for the gathered family? Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice
Chapell's conclusion to the historical analysis, however, did not demand such a liturgy. Having established a further, biblical, basis for the elements he has thus far presented, Chapell now moves to explain their purpose. The purpose of Christ-centered worship is to re-present the Gospel. In the following chapter, Chapell plays further on the theme of worshipping for the good of others by describing the mission of Christ-centered worship. Christ-centered worship ends the struggle of worship wars because it focuses on the true substance of worship rather than its style. Biblical, Christ-centered worship values the glory of God and the good of man and therefore serves both. Christ-centered worship does not focus its worship on the unbeliever, but does not forget them in the process. The purpose of the book is best stated by the author himself: "My intention has not been to take sides in the traditional/contemporary worship debate or to try to mandate a liturgy for all churches. The writer's conclusions are able to be implemented in churches regardless of worship style and serve only to strengthen the substance of their worship.
Overall, though, the book was helpful and instructive.
Bryan Chapell is the president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, the denominational seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America.