The Worship Architect
A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services
by Constance M. Cherry
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 17 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 17 Oct 2021
Baker Academic & Brazos Press, Baker Academic
“This second edition of The Worship Architect makes Bible-based, historically conscious, and God-aware training for worship leaders even more accessible, taking into account changes in our world such as the blending of physical and online spaces. In this classic text, Cherry grounds Christian activity within our worship of Jesus Christ, stating ‘we worship locally to serve globally.’ There is a great need for the Christian church to grow in understanding the fullness of the power of worship in our post-pandemic world.”—Tanya Riches, senior lecturer and MTh coordinator, Hillsong College, Australia
“Worship to God, with God, and for God has a formative influence on the believer. Therefore, the structure and design of congregational worship play a crucial role in the spiritual formation of worshipers. If worship is God’s gift to us, then this new edition of The Worship Architect is Constance Cherry’s guide to help us steward this gift well. This book is a comprehensive master class for worship leaders who want to design worship that is pleasing to God.”—Abson P. Joseph, vice president of academic affairs and professor of New Testament, Wesley Seminary (Indiana Wesleyan University)
“This book is widely used in Hong Kong seminaries. In the past few years, I have witnessed numerous worship practitioners, seminary students, and church pastors from different denominations being stimulated, challenged, inspired, equipped, and shaped by this book to plan biblically faithful services and nurture the congregations in their local churches. God as the Master Architect has called us to be worship architects, and readers will surely be deeply encouraged by this theologically grounded and effectively applicable book.”—Cazaria Ho Heung Choi, assistant professor and program director of worship studies, Evangel Seminary, Hong Kong
“The expertise, wisdom, and pastoral sensibilities of Constance Cherry shine through in her masterful work, The Worship Architect. Her experience in leading and teaching worship, which few can match, has given her the tools to produce an accessible blueprint for leaders who desire to place the gospel at the center of their worship gatherings. Having taught from the book numerous times, I can attest to its ability to reach across denominational and cultural boundaries, as well as to the positive outcomes elicited by immersion in its theological and practical depths. During this time when many churches are seeking substance over style, The Worship Architect remains a foundational resource for worship renewal.”—Dinelle Frankland, academic dean, The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies
“In a world that is becoming alarmingly deprived of sound worship theology, The Worship Architect is a welcome and much-needed guide for all Christian worshipers. In this book, Constance Cherry has combined rich insights and robust theology of Christian worship with years of field experience as a minister and a trained musician, producing a work that deserves to be in the hands of every Christian serving in worship. Comprehensive in scope yet readily accessible, The Worship Architect is my top recommendation when asked about primary resources for worship leaders, planners, and team members. Cherry is an able mentor and a gentle guide who walks readers through various components of biblical worship. Whether one is a seasoned worship minister or simply desiring to gain a deeper understanding of corporate worship, this book will help educate, inspire, and fuel the readers to wholeheartedly serve God through worship.”—Matt Wonjoon Lee, vice-dean of SaRang Global Academy, School of Worship, South Korea
“Both learned and wise, practical and pastorally sensitive, Cherry’s book is a tremendous gift to teachers and pastors and an invaluable aid to worship leaders as well. It is a book that I return to repeatedly for guidance and grounding in my own thinking, teaching, and practice of worship. I highly recommend it.”—W. David O. Taylor, associate professor of theology and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
Available on NetGalley
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The format and style of Worship in churches have been changing over the years. The factors that spur changes include congregational size, cultural influences, renewal movements, liturgical requirements, and so on. Along with the trend, the word "worship" has also become more loosely used to include personal devotions, small group gatherings, musical events, conferences, workshops, as well as everyday living. In an effort to recover the meaning of worship, author and professor Constance Cherry has revised her 2010 volume about designing worship services with a focus on Church services. Part of the concern has to do with what the author calls "a diminishing ecclesiology and an anemic Christology." The purpose of her writing this book is: "to equip leaders to prepare and lead Christian worship services that are faithful to Scripture, historically conscious, relevant to God, Christ-centered, context-specific, and engaging for worshipers of all ages." Using the metaphor of building a house, Cherry designates four rooms of worship as follows: - First Room: The Gathering of God's People - Second Room: The Hearing of God's Word - Third Room: The Response to God's Word - Fourth Room: The Sending out of God's Disciples This is followed by questions such as "Who are the users of the building?" "Will it be a welcoming place?" "How do we use this space to facilitate interactions and build relationships?" Moving from a general overview to specific details, readers are invited to think of worship in terms of building a house, a metaphor wholly suited to the common reference to the Church, as the House of God. In addition to expanded material of several original chapters, this new edition includes some recent developments that arise from the past decade, such as: - How globalization has influenced worship? - What about the nature of secularization? - How the pandemic has affected the way we worship? - What is the relationship between evangelism and worship? - What about the worship conducted at the local Church and other venues? Her chapter on Global Worship answers a lot of the questions above. On top of that, there are descriptions and strategies pertaining to the use of the Christian Year with useful frameworks for planning worship accordingly. She touches on the different types of worship styles as well, namely "liturgical worship," "traditional worship," "blended worship," "contemporary worship," "ancient-future worship," showing us why they are more "myths" than anything else. She reminds us not to be fixated on such "packaging" that focuses on human needs, and to learn instead to ask questions like: "How to help people encounter God more authentically?" She then offers us an alternative in terms of "convergence." My Thoughts ============== The author has largely updated the book by maintaining the same principles but modifying the approaches. For instance, in foundations, we learn about the way the Bible teaches us about cornerstone, which was true in architecture then. Modern architecture and advanced engineering have improved to spread out the foundations in different places. The key idea however is the need for foundations. By learning to see the similar principles and the modified processes, we get an updated view of how to apply ancient biblical truths to modern contexts. She shows us how to see the big picture to keep all the individual parts together. Other principles include the need for stability, for vision and access, for intangible thing like beauty and meaning. This emphasis on principles enable readers to adopt the idea and to modify it for their own environments. Since the body of Christ everywhere is unique, the worship design and approaches ought to be unique. Starting from first principles is the way to go! Plus, I appreciate her emphasis on biblical principles each time, which is exactly what we all need with regard to true worship. That way, she helps readers maintain a biblical perspective before we actually begin to navigate the tricky cultural trends and nuances. Cherry is clear in her purpose as she begins each chapter, which helps a lot from an academic standpoint. This helps us see where she is coming from. When we deal with a lot of material, it is often necessary to state the premise on a regular basis. Otherwise, it is easy for one to revert to original presuppositions which does not help if we truly wants to learn or to change our perspectives. Some of the key themes are crucial to the understanding of why we have certain liturgies in worship services. One of the most important chapters is the foundations for worship. I am aware of some readers who would prefer to jump to the latest thinking that they are the greatest relevance to what worship is. I would caution against that because true worship requires us to design and implement our ways in accordance to the Scriptures and theological truths they teach. This is done through the theological themes Cherry has listed clearly for us. I appreciate how the author lists down the pros and cons of the different worship styles and then guides us to learn about convergence to help the community encounter God. Finally, a word about engaging people living in the new cultural realms. This is a necessary update to help us navigate an increasingly complex and diverse cultural environment. She challenges us to adopt multicultural, multigenerational, multiracial, forms of worship, which is the future of global worship. Her segment on worship during the pandemic is absolutely a must-read. In it, she does not simply tell us about the impact of the pandemic on the Church, she sees if from the lens of the marginalized and those who had been feeling isolated all along in the pre-pandemic days. Referring to those who cannot physically travel to Church or those who for various reasons are unable to congregate in person, going online for everyone is a chance to see from their points of view. Perhaps, we can use the circumstances that we are stuck in to learn not just of new ways but to discover new perspectives of people who are different from us. This is a book that is packed with useful information and wise strategies. It is not just an academic book for students of the theology of worship. It can be used as a handbook, a workbook, a valuable reference book, all rolled into one. Truly, it would be a book that the late worship theologian, Dr Robert E. Webber would be proud of. Constance M. Cherry (DMin, Northern Seminary) is professor emeritus of worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, where she taught from 2004-2020, and is a founding faculty member of the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies where she has taught in the Doctor of Worship Studies program since 2000. She has been active in church ministry roles for decades and is the author of The Worship Architect, The Music Architect, and The Special Service Worship Architect. Rating: 4.75 stars of 5. conrade This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Academic and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.