One thing I’ve been asked through my years in ministry is what are some good resources for those who are feeling called to oversee or help out in a worship ministry? So here’s a list of the best resources I’ve found, I’ve ordered them in the order of significance I’ve found them to be:
–Engaging with God by David Peterson
. This book should be on every pastor’s shelf, not just the shelf of a worship pastor. Peterson’s premise, as stated in the introduction, is “the worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.” This book is a meaty book looking at how God is worshipping in the Old and New Testaments and then how we should apply those things to our worship today.
–Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin
. I’ll read and recommend pretty much everything he’s done! This book gives a great theological base while tying it to the practical elements of what a worship leader is called to do.
–True Worshippers by Bob Kauflin
. This is a follow up to Worship Matters, and is aimed at the congregation. Helpful for a worship pastor to think through what he should expect of the congregation.
–The Worship Pastor by Zac Hicks
. Each chapter is a different area the worship pastor at least needs to be aware of and thinking through on a regular basis. If you’re interested, the list is: The worship pastor as…. Church lover, corporate mystic, doxological philosopher, disciple maker, prayer leader, theological dietician, war general, watchful prophet, missionary, artist chaplain, caregiver, mortician, emotional shepherd, liturgical architect, curator, tour guide, failure.
–Christ Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell
. Similarly to Rhythms of Grace (see below), Chapell takes it to the New Testament to present and how the various elements of church services through history have all attempted to be demonstrations of the gospel message.
–Doxology & Theology edited by Matt Boswell
. A number of worship pastors across the country contributed to this one, but it addresses how doxology and theology are two sides of the same coin. If our theology (study and understanding of God and who He is) does not affect and allow our doxology (praise of God) to become deeper and richer then it’s useless.
–Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith
. Smith is a philosopher at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, this is one of a three part series where he directs the cultural liturgies of our day and shows how those affect us, and also how we should be intentional with our worship liturgies because we are shaped and formed by that which we most love.
–The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
. This one should be read by every worship pastor! It’s a classic that talks about the need for both emotions and intellect in our worship (loving God with our heart, mind, soul and strength)
–Gather God’s People by Brian Croft and Jason Adkins
. I just read this one, it adheres pretty closely to the regulative principle (in a church service, we can only do that which is specifically described in Scripture), and I don’t agree with their idea of singing “Psalms,” (as in Ephesians 5:19
, “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs), but they’ve got some great things to think about as far as what the Bible actually tells us about how we should corporately worship.
–Reformation Worship by Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey
. I just started this one after getting a recommendation from Mark Dever at T4G. It’s already given me some great nuggets anythings to think through and about. They take a look at some various church liturgies from 1523-1586, with some comments and updated translations. So this includes liturgies from Calvin, Knox, Luther, Cranmer and many others. I realize it’s a hefty book, and very expensive, but from my just starting it, it looks like it will be a really helpful resource.
, Psalms 73-150
. The Psalms should be a regular part of the diet of a worship leader! They helpfully give us a context and phrasing to worship God with all our emotions, and we’re commanded to sing them in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5! These are some incredibly helpful commentaries to help you dig in to the Psalms and apply them to your local context.
–The Worship Sourcebook
. This is a resource put out by the Calvin Institue of Christian Worship and has more resources than you could think of! Scripture readings, prayers, confessions, creeds, as well as outlines of full service orders you can use. This is helpful to have a foundation of historical truths that you can incorporate into your services to remind people of the breadth of our historical faith.
–Every Moment Holy.
This is put out by the Rabbit Room (founded in part by Andrew Peterson) which has liturgies for you to recite and pray through throughout your day. There’s one in there that’s titled ‘Before Taking the Stage’ that’s helpful for every music team about to lead people in singing!
–The Book of Common Prayer
. I realize this is an Anglican resource, but is another helpful thing to have on hand as you look through the ways the church has planned various services throughout history. Plus, Thomas Cranmer knew his stuff!
–Doxology and Theology
. This started as the book, it’s the worship branch of The Gospel Coalition. They also do a conference regularly.
–The Institute for Biblical Worship
. While the D&T site has been a bit sparse with content, much of it has been moved here with more content coming regularly, and a conference coming up this spring!
This is by a worship pastor name Jamie Brown. He’s at an Anglican Church, and I don’t agree with everything he writes, but it’s often some good stuff to think about.
–Worship Matters Video Intensive
. I waited YEARS for him to do this! I’m currently taking my leaders at church through this, it’s Bob walking through his book in a video format, with discussion questions.
–The Worship Initiative
. This might be the most helpful thing to come out in the past few years! They’ve got devotionals, training with instruments, walkthroughs of a ton of songs, and they release new content regularly so it’s totally worth having access to it!
I’m always looking for new books or resources for us to use that are helpful for us to think biblically and theologically about how we craft our worship services, but this list will keep you busy for quite a few months, and give you many good ideas about how to better plan and structure our corporate worship services.
EDIT: Last updated October 19, 2020.