Bryan Chapell's book Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon has equipped thousands of pastors with practical counsel and a theological basis for directing their congregations toward Jesus. Now, the president of Covenant Seminary has exhibited the same attention to history, sensible advice, and the biblical witness in his latest book, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice (Baker Academic, $24.99, 320 pp.). He was interviewed by CT editor-at-large Collin Hansen.
What is—and is not—Christ-centered worship?
Christ-centered worship is not just talking or singing about Jesus a lot. Christ-centered worship reflects the contours of the gospel. In the individual life of a believer, the gospel progresses through recognition of the greatness and goodness of God, the acknowledgment of our sin and need of grace, assurance of God's forgiveness through Christ, thankful acknowledgment of God's blessing, desire for greater knowledge of him through his Word, grateful obedience in response to his grace, and a life devoted to his purposes with assurance of his blessing.
In the corporate life of the church this same gospel pattern is reflected in worship. Opening moments offer recognition of the greatness and goodness of God that naturally folds into confession, assurance of pardon, thanksgiving, instruction, and a charge to serve God in response to his grace in Christ. This is not a novel idea but, in fact, is the way most churches have organized their worship across the centuries. Only in recent times have we lost sight of these gospel contours and substituted pragmatic preferences for Christ-centered worship. My goal is to re-acquaint the church with the gospel-shape of its worship so ...1