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Andrw Jones


5 worship experiences. 4 weeks. 3 countries. 2 books. 1 heavy suitcase, stuffed with the gizmos and gadgets that are the stock and trade of a worship VJ (video jockey). Couched beneath my projector and iBook are two books that I intend to read and review on the plane trips between the conferences. Call it a worship road-test.

The two books being lugged around the world are The Great Worship Awakening: Singing a New Song in the Postmodern Church, by Robb Redman, a pastor and consultant from Texas; and All in Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion, by Robert Wuthnow, who directs the Study of Religion at Princeton University and has written other books on the topic.

The road ahead is cruel and demanding. These books will be taken into the most extreme worship environments imaginable and be asked to perform with insight, perspective, and wise counsel.

To be honest, I don't expect a great deal of success. Redman's book appears to be about singing in church. It is written with papal nicety, in seminary prose, possibly too delicate to handle the demands of post-charismatic, post-Reformation worship. And yet it promises to be a "travel guide that points out the issues to encounter along the journey." But can it appreciate the intricacies of a nonlinear worship journey that avoids a pre-determined outcome? Let's wait and see.

Wuthnow's book takes a more scholarly approach, leaning on its backbone of research, a 400-strong choir of statistic-singing voices, each one a compelling argument that creativity is a significant part of American spirituality. Yet on first impression, it appears old school, snobbish and hierarchical, a book for high church people who drive Oldsmobiles. The churches used as examples tend to be large, at least 30 years old, and nothing at all like the organic churches being started by the starving artists and 20-something church planters in some of our road-tests. Still, I have an open mind. And a heavy suitcase.

The Testing Environments

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