Begin here. Don’t read any other books on liturgy until you’ve read this one. While many seminarians are familiar with “Christ Centered Preaching”, I firmly believe that “Christ Centered Worship” is Bryan Chapell’s greatest contribution to the church. I first read this book in 2017 and it cemented all of the swirling ideas I had concerning liturgical matters.
Chapell gives us a helpful historic summary of different ancient, Roman Catholic, Reformation, as well as modern Reformed liturgies, but the chief value of this book is how he argues for a Christ-centered “logic” for the worship service. In short, the order of our worship ought to take cues from the order of our salvation. God is holy. Man is sinful. Christ is our redeemer. We respond in faith an obedience. Even shorter: God, Man, Christ, Response. That’s how you ought to order the flow of your worship service.
Several benefits of this structure include:
Requiring you to add elements of worship you may not currently employ (i.e. confession of sin, prayers of praise/thanksgiving, confessions of faith, Scripture readings)
Requiring you to shift elements of worship up or down in the flow of the service (i.e. put the offering after you’ve looked to Christ for pardon and forgiveness)
Bringing greater proportion and balance in the service. (many worship services are imbalanced towards redemption and response, but are weak on praise, confession, thanksgiving.
Ensuring that every service proclaims all the main “beats” of the gospel message.
If you’ve read Chapell’s book, I’d love to hear any insights you have in the comments.