Doxology and Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader, ed. by Matt Boswell. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2013. 223 pp. $14.99.
Growing out of a conference by the same name, Doxology and Theology presents the belief of editor Matt Boswell and contributing authors that “theology is not just for the academics—it is for every Christian, especially worship leaders” (2–3). Boswell, pastor of ministries and worship at Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, bemoans the fact that “many believe that worship leadership and theological aptitude are mutually exclusive” (1) and offers this volume as a corrective.
The book is divided into fourteen separate chapters by various authors that address subjects related (more or less) to this primary thesis. Boswell begins in Chapter 1 by presenting “five marks of the worship of the church” from Psalm 96: The worship of the church is God-centered, biblically formed, gospel-wrought, congregational, and missional. He continues in Chapter 2 with qualifications of a worship leader, arguing that “the worship leader in many churches serves as a functional elder, and therefore should exhibit the qualities that the New Testament expects of elders” (24, emphasis original).
In Chapter 3 Michael Bleecher expresses concern that “our churches are filled with uninformed worshippers.” As a solution to this problem, he suggests, “where the Word of God is taught correctly, the opportunity exists for the informed worshippers to respond to God with their heart and mind, with affection and thought” (45, emphasis original).
Zac Hicks argues in Chapter 4 for a robustly Trinitarian worship that has four results: The Trinity affects the possibility and proximity of worship, protects the priority and purity of worship, affects the posture and procedure of worship, and directs the practices and propositions of worship.
In Chapter 5 Matt Papa attempts to demonstrate “how worship fuels missions (Rom. 3), and that missions rises and falls on the wings of worship” (77).
Stephen Miller insists in Chapter 6 that “the character of our hearts, good, bad, and ugly, will necessarily shape everything we do in ministry” (95).
Chapter 7, by Aaron Ivey, argues for the necessity of social justice as a church mandate and claims that “we cannot teach the idea of serving the poor and being people of justice unless we are altering our lives to actually live it out” (107). Thus, Ivey has “come to the humbling conclusion that a crucial role in the life of the worship leader is to lead the charge in seeking justice, renewal, and redemption” (111).
In Chapter 8, Bruce Benedict contends for a gospel-shaped liturgy such that “through our words and actions, we call people to stand in the glorious victory of the cross, to raise their hands in a united gesture of praise, to confess their sins with humble spirits, and bodies, to be sent out in mission filled with the confidence and assurance that the Holy Spirit is powerfully present and at word” (122–23).
Mike Cosper maintains in Chapter 9 that “pastors of worship should be attentive to how the creative gifts of the church are being nurtured and cultivated, and how opportunities to express those gifts are being stewarded” (141).
In Chapter 10, Aaron Keyes insists that a worship leader is also a disciple-maker.
Building on the premise that “the relationship you share with your pastor is crucial to the survival of the role you serve in supporting him” (161), Andi Rozier presents in Chapter 11 guidelines for nurturing the relationship between the worship leader and his pastor.
Boswell returns in Chapter 12 to address the worship leader and family worship: “We care tremendously about our churches worshipping in a biblically informed, theologically rich manner. We should be equally concerned about the worship in our homes” (174).
In Chapter 13 Matt Mason focuses attention on the act of singing itself, and Ken Boer concludes in Chapter 14 by simply connecting the gospel to the worship leader and his task.
I doubt very few astute observers of worship leadership in evangelical churches today would disagree with Boswell’s assessment that many worship leaders have little, if any, theological acumen. Indeed, since, as Boswell rightly argues, worship leaders are at very least functional elders, biblical requirements concerning sound doctrine and aptness to teach are as applicable to worship leadership as to any other ministry position. This is why at Southwestern Seminary, each of our church music and worship ministry degrees have a theological core. Thus, Doxology and Theology is a welcome corrective that targets the vast array of theologically (and even, in many cases, musically) uneducated worship leaders. Each of these chapters will stretch such a worship leader to consider more carefully his task. I’m not convinced every chapter logically flows from the book’s thesis, such as Ivey’s claims concerning the church and social justice, but most of the chapters will at very least push worship leaders to think theologically. Yet a book like this is a starting place only; hopefully it will motivate a desire to receive formal education in these important areas.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, TX