Unceasing Worship

Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts

by Harold M. Best

Unceasing Worship
paperback
  • Length: 226 pages
  • Published: November 2003
  •  In stock
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-3229-3
  • Item Code: 3229
  • Case Quantity: 44

  • Discerning Reader's Best Book of 2003

We are not created to worship. Nor are we created for worship. We are created worshiping.

Too often Christians have only thought of worship in terms of particular musical styles or liturgical formats. But a proper view of worship is far larger than what takes place in churches on Sunday mornings. Worship is not limited to specific times, places or activities.

God is by his very nature continuously outpouring himself. Because we are created in his image, we too are continually pouring ourselves in various directions, whether toward God or toward false gods. All of us, Christian or not, are always worshiping, whether or not that worship is directed toward God. We are unceasing worshipers.

The fruition of a lifetime of study, reflection and experience, this volume sets forth Harold M. Best's understanding of worship and the arts. Widely respected as one of the foremost thinkers and practitioners in his field, Best explores the full scope of worship as continuous outpouring in all settings and contexts. With careful exposition and eloquent analysis, Best casts a holistic vision for worship that transcends narrow discussions of musical style or congregational preference. On this broader canvas, Best addresses popular misunderstandings about the use of music and offers correctives toward a more biblically consistent practice of artistic action.

Incisive, biblical, profound and comprehensive, Best's landmark volume is one by which all other statements on worship and the arts will be measured.

"Unceasing Worship is a cut above the rest of the books on worship. Drawing on a lifetime of learning, artistry and leadership, Best writes with clarity, passion and deep humility about the great loves of his calling: the triune God, the Bible, churches, and music and the arts. There's encouragement, insight and challenges for every pastor and worship leader in this refreshing and inspiring book. Unceasing Worship is a rare gift of wisdom that combines clear thinking and warm-hearted devotion."

Robb Redman, pastor, Forest Hills Presbyterian Church, Helotes, Texas, and author of The Great Worship Awakening

"In a world filled with easy reads, this is a decidedly hard book. But it is exceedingly wise, and wisdom takes time and work--and love. Harold is my friend, and I know how agonizingly he labors over each word and phrase. That passion is alive on every page of this miraculous book. Like many of you, I have struggled alone all my life trying to understand what it is God wants of me when he calls me to worship. Harold Best has emerged from a din of voices to let us know we are not alone in our struggle to understand what worship demands, asks for and is. After all, this does not pretend, like so many others have pretended, to be an answer book. There is only one of those. This book is the sound of a voice, behind what was before a locked door. It invites us to struggle together to join together in unceasing worship to the One who alone deserves to be praised."

Michael Card, songwriter, musician and author of Scribbling in the Sand and A Fragile Stone

"Most books on worship are filled with historical data or practical ideas. This book stands out because it is chock-full of wisdom. Every five-page segment leaves the reader with thought-provoking insights and questions to ponder, drawn from a fruitful lifetime of wrestling with how we can faithfully honor the God who created and redeemed us. "Especially insightful is Best's insistence that worship must never be limited to what happens in a public event on Sunday morning. This theme makes this a book on worship not only for worship leaders but for all worshipers who seek to renew their spiritual life. Consider studying this, one chapter at a time, with your church council, board or worship leadership group."

John D. Witvliet, Director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

"I am particularly attracted to the theological development of continuous outpouring. That the triune God continually outpours toward creatures and creation, and we to him, breaks new ground. It challenges convention and makes us approach worship and artistic expression with new eyes."

Robert Webber, founder, Institute for Worship Studies, and Professor Emeritus, Northern Seminary

"Harold Best has given us a full-field theology of worship. It is also written from the heart. Best hits the high notes and charts the pitfalls of humanity's instinctive, unceasing worship of God. Outstanding!"

Paul F. M. Zahl, Dean, Cathedral Church of the Advent.

"Worship is simply the most important action in which any of us will ever engage. Harold Best tells us why. Worship is also distressingly conflicted, mired in contentious controversy and cheapened by clich├ęs. Harold Best tells us why. But he does more, far more: in well-crafted sentences and arresting images Harold Best immerses in the deep and wide world of worship in which we receive and respond to God with 'all that is within me.' "

Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College

"One could not praise this book too much! Harold Best follows his own advice and writes with 'richness, range, comprehension, and temperate and timely word choices.' His phrases are weighty and elegant; a vibrantly truthful person, his language always points out idolatries, invites our reform and celebrates the grand diversity of the creation's worship-full 'outpourings.' If we would live what Best teaches, both we and our churches would be revived!"

Marva J. Dawn, author of Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down and A Royal "Waste" of Time

"In this book Harold Best has given the church a gift--the gift of understanding that worship is a poured-out offering of love to Jesus that we give him every day of our lives, with the wonderful effect that our corporate worship on Sunday is all the better for it. Along the way he exposes our fallenness as worshipers, our capacity for idolatry (especially music), and the real but limited role of art forms as conveyors of truth. Prophetic, timely, compelling--just what the Lord of the church ordered."

Paul Basden, senior pastor, Preston Trail Community Church, Frisco, Texas, and author of The Worship Maze
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CONTENTS

Introduction

Part 1: Unceasing Worship as Continuous Outpouring
1. Nobody Does Not Worship
2. What Is Authentic Worship?
3. Mutual Indwelling: The Final Geography of Worship
4. The Corporate Gathering and Authentic Worship
5. Worship and Witness: The Indivisible Task of Continuous Outpouring
6. Worship, Praying and Preaching

Part 2: Unceasing Worship and the Arts
7. Continuous Outpouring and Artistic Action
8. What Creative People Can Learn from God's Creation
9. The Peculiarity of Music and Its Unique Role
10. The Arts in Contrast: Allowing Art to Be Art
11. "You Shall Not Worship Me This Way": Worship, Art and Incipient Idolatry
12. The Cultural Expanse, Part 1: Realities and Unities
13. The Cultural Expanse, Part 2: Issues
14. What of Quality?

Epilogue

Notes

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Harold M. Best (DSM, Union Theological Seminary) was for more than twenty-five years the dean of the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. An organist and composer, he has been a mentor and model for musicians, artists, and church leaders. He also has served as president of the National Association of Schools of Music and has written extensively on matters of curriculum, culture, and educational policy issues. He is the author of Music Through the Eyes of Faith.

BY Harold M. Best

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