Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review of Missional Worship by Cathy Townley

Missional Worship

Missional Worship: Increasing Attendance and Expanding the Boundaries of Your Church
by Cathy Townley
ISBN 9780827216440
Chalice Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Much has been written in recent years on the "missional" church. Much of this discussion centers around how churches are trained to see themselves as missionaries, and see the church as a mission center that equips people to go out into the world with their Christian faith instead of as an organization that people should join out of duty and obligation.

Into the mix of literature on this movement, Cathy Townley submits her discussion of Missional Worship. Rev. Townley has developed a through book of equipping a church to outreach through worship.

Missional Worship is a book with two parts. The first part discusses a philosophy and some basic methods to develop a missional worship service. These include a clear target audience, some key networks that a worship leader has formed relationships within, finding some key leaders that will advocate for and help build your worship service, developing a prayer team, as well as some helpful hints in building a worship team.

The second part of Missional Worship focuses on the "nuts and bolts" of what a missional worship service needs to have in order to be successful. For instance, how do you develop a leadership community of worship leaders without making it into another committee people serve on? How do you create a quality worship service without degenerating into a performance model of worship and church life? How do you deal with transitions in a worship service that does not degenerate into an "insider experience" or on the other hand feel choppy and disjointed? These are all important questions that Townley seeks to answer.

What is most helpful about Townley's teaching is that a worship leader needs to have a worship lifestyle. If a pastor or a worship leader is simply a showman, and he/she does not live the truth they are teaching, people will know it and see it. But if the person is authentically prayerful, authentically passionate about their faith, and authentically active and hopeful of reaching unbelievers, that will pass on to the congregation as well.

There were a couple of things I struggled with in Missional Church. I thought for a book that talked about "missional church" the author spent an awful lot of time a 1980s church growth model of outreach. I also thought the author wrote a lot like she might speak during a seminar, and I got the impression she is a better teacher and workshop leader than writer.

All in all though, there is a lot of good advice in this book, and some helpful hints for those designing a worship service that is hopeful of reaching unbelievers. I took much of it to heart. I am sure others will be benefited by taking Townley's advice to heart as well.

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