Worship in an Age of Anxiety: How Churches Can Create Space for Healing, By J. Michael Jordan

Worship in an Age of Anxiety

How Churches Can Create Space for Healing

Dynamics of Christian Worship

by J. Michael Jordan

Worship in an Age of Anxiety
  • Length: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: June 04, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0610
  • ISBN: 9781514006108

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The history of the theology of worship is riddled with examples of clergy and worship leaders who have sought to manipulate their parishioners' anxiety in order to spur repentance and turn people toward God. Even if such ends may be desirable—at what cost?

In Worship in an Age of Anxiety, Jordan challenges this utilitarian approach, offering a critical assessment of contemporary as well as historical evangelical figures such as D. L. Moody and Billy Graham who have deployed anxiety as a tool for conversion.

Proposing a completely different model, Jordan takes up various elements of worship, including:

  • liturgy
  • space
  • music
  • preaching
  • the sacraments

In doing so, he develops a practical theology of worship that also turns people toward God but within a healing framework.

While worship alone cannot heal anxiety, it can be a time and place where, rather than being manipulated, anxiety can be acknowledged, accepted, and offered to God.

"J. Michael Jordan is a beautiful soul, and this book is a beautiful book. Worship in an Age of Anxiety—about the intersection of worship, church, and our internal lives—is a jarring invitation to God's people to find their trust in the love of the Trinity. This is an excellent book, and one you need to pick up."

A. J. Swoboda, associate professor of Bible and theology at Bushnell University and author of After Doubt

"The church desperately needs new resources to reframe our reaction to the anxiety epidemic. Our response cannot just be sequestered off in pastoral counseling or outsourcing to secular mental health. Jordan's book helpfully points out that our response must take place at the heart of the church's collective life—in our very practices of worship."

Curtis Chang, author of The Anxiety Opportunity: How Worry Is the Doorway to Your Best Self

"Michael Jordan describes a troubling reality: 'Many evangelical churches operate with an implicit theology of anxiety which works against the strategies for flourishing that people with anxiety learn in their mental health journeys.' We've become accustomed to these dynamics, so Jordan's book is a gift to the church, both unpacking the history of how we got here and offering healing ways forward through an appreciation of time and space, music, preaching, and sacraments. This work evokes a prayer: May our worship, in all life's uncertainty, once more remind us, 'You are a beloved child of God.'"

Mandy Smith, pastor and author of The Vulnerable Pastor

"With careful analysis and a pastor's heart, J. Michael Jordan brings his liturgical scholarship and his decade of experience as a college chaplain to urge a breakaway from what he calls the cycle of 'anxiety-repent-relief' that Christian worship, particularly worship in the evangelical-revival traditions, has engaged with regarding people's anxieties. Jordan suggests a full-orbed approach toward healing and transformation for both preacher, church, and people. He prescribes the fullness of the ministry of Word and sacrament anchored in the community of the church—for the sake of and the well-being of the whole people of God in service to the gospel and the Lord of the gospel."

Neal D. Presa, associate professor of preaching and worship and vice president of student affairs at New Brunswick Theological Seminary

Read an Excerpt


1. Anxiety Today
2. Anxiety, Repentance, Relief, Repeat: Explicit Messages About Anxiety in Evangelical Worship
3. Implicit Practical Theologies of Anxiety in Evangelical Worship Today
4. A Healing Approach to Liturgical Time: Years, Weeks, and Days
5. A Healing Approach to Liturgical Space: Room to Flourish in a Technological Age
6. A Healing Approach to Church Music: Evaluating the Script We've Inherited
7. A Healing Approach to Preaching: Faithful to Text, Self, and Listener
8. A Healing Approach to the Sacraments: More Than Words, More Than Me
General Index
Scripture Index


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J. Michael Jordan

Rev. Dr. Michael Jordan (PhD Drew University) is an ordained Wesleyan pastor with eleven years of pastoral ministry experience in United Methodist, American Baptist, and Wesleyan churches. He currently serves as Dean of the Chapel and Associate Professor of Religion at Houghton College. From 2002-2009, he was the pastor of Exton Community Baptist Church in Exton, PA, and has also served on the pastoral staff of his current church, Houghton Wesleyan.