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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books; 1 edition (31 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433533421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433533426
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 718,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Is it singing? A church service? All of life? Helping Christians think more theologically about the nature of true worship, Rhythms of Grace shows how the gospel is all about worship and worship is all about the gospel. Mike Cosper ultimately answers the question: What is worship?

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been thinking about issues of worship within the church for a while and have become rather confused by it all.
Mike Cosper writes both sensitively and challengingly about these things, starting by describing what the subtitle says,
'How the church's worship tells the story of the gospel', going through the gospel story and showing how the concept of 'worship' fits in with each part of it.
He then considers how we can adapt what we learn there in our worship today.
Although it has some good specific advice for pastors and worship leaders, I don't fall into either of those categories and I would recommend it for any disciple who want to get a deeper grasp on the issues.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good read which a group of us shared on a fortnightly basis. Some chapters more relevant than others but that will be different for everyone who reads this very helpful book.
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Amazon.com: 33 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
No Worship Leader, Church Musician, Pastor or Worshiper Should Be Without It 20 Mar. 2013
By Bobby Gilles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In Rhythms of Grace, Mike guides us through a biblical history and theology of worship, from the Garden of Eden to the wilderness, the period of temple worship, and the coming of Jesus.

Then he unveils his "Worship One, Two Three" paradigm, showing that worship has:

One Object and Author: God
Two Contexts: The Church Scattered and the Church Gathered
Three Audiences: God, The Church (each other), and the World

When we understand this, a lot of the practical and theological questions disappear. We stop arguing whether to sing songs to God or to sing them about God (the answer is "both"). We stop arguing whether worship service planning should focus on our church family or the "seeker's" in our community (both).

Perhaps the most contentious part of Rhythms of Grace will be Mike's critique of the Temple Model of worship service planning (often called the Wimber Model, after John Wimber, one of the founders of the Vineyard movement). I won't go into the argument here, but urge you -- no matter where you stand in this debate now -- to read Mike's critique with an open mind.

You'll also find a full description of "liturgy" that will take the mystery out of that term and teach you how to craft services that repeatedly "tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love" (to borrow a phrase from the hymn "I Love To Tell The Story"). He ends with a chapter devoted specifically to singing, and a chapter on "The Pastoral Worship Leader."

The Appendix includes several sample "Orders of Service" from different churches, a list of Recommended Resources (books, websites and more), and a short, practical section on technical challenges for church audio and congregational singing -- advice about sound equipment, instruments, audio engineering, room setup and more.

I've learned a lot from Mike over the years. And many of his mentors have become people that I've also learned from, following introductions by Mike, such as Bob Kauflin, Kevin Twit, Harold Best and the late Chip Stam. Now with this book, you can quickly and repeatedly benefit from the wisdom and experiences Mike has gained. His writing style is engaging, and he simplifies complex subjects without reducing them to simplistic formulas or platitudes.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Liturgy: You know, for Kids! 28 Mar. 2013
By Matthew Westerholm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Donald Hustad, longtime professor of church music at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, once wrote, "Through the years, there has been a continuing (and perhaps, healthy) tension between these two forces--formal worship versus freedom of style" (Jubilate II, 215). Mike Cosper's new book pleads for thoughtful worship-service planning that derives its shape and goals from the gospel. Rhythms of Grace is invaluable to the service planner seeking introduction to the merits of formal liturgical patterns, and I absolutely will use it in the undergraduate classes I teach. Many of my students begin with worship service paradigms borrowed from concert or stage venues, and their worship service orders revolve around tempos and keys rather than deep gospel truths. While few liturgical writers appeal to them, Cosper will hit them right between the eyes.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Rhythms worth making 12 April 2013
By Book Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Author: Mike Cosper

Publisher: Crossway

Pages: 222

Mike Cosper serves as the pastor of worship & arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. He is one of the founding pastors at Sojourn as well as the founder of Sojourn Music. You can find his regular contributions to the Gospel Coalition Blog.

This new book (content: worship) is an instant classic, in my opinion. Decades from now, this book will still be making waves in the truths of the gospel. The book is gospel-saturated written by a "gospel-saturated man" (p.11 - B. Kauflin).

From the moment I turned the first page, I struggled to put this text down. It is that rich with gospel truth & gospel history. The reason I mention history is because the first 4 chapters are a SOLID running commentary on the gospel throughout the Old Testament & Jesus' fulfillment of the law & shedding full light on the gospel to all people.

When the term "gospel-centered" is mentioned, one may easily tend to think of complex theology & deep truths. However, gospel-centeredness is rather simple. What happens to often is that; "You deal with the gospel when you become a Christian, and then you move on to bigger things as you mature" (Cosper). However, Cosper implies (from cover to cover) that there is no bigger thing than the gospel. Therefore, the author's premise is gospel remembrance.

"We gather (to worship corporately) to remember our identity-shaping story, and send one another back into the wider world, allowing that story to shape us as we go" (Cosper).

Never getting over the gospel & allowing the gospel to reframe & reform your life is exactly what gospel-centeredness is. The gospel is applicable to all facets of life, because there is never a moment/situation/circumstance where the gospel is not needed.

Throughout the text, Cosper explains why worship (remembering the gospel, singing about the Gospel to God, about God and to another) is a mandate for the believer(s).

One of the many strengths of the text are the resources available. In some chapters, there are sections of "getting practical" provided by the author. In these sections, the author describes some of the clear practical implications based on the chapter's content.

Also provided along with the text are two things: (1) recommended resources (books, websites, blogs regarding worship) and (2) sample service orders (that are formed around the gospel).

Any worship leader or pastor will find these resources of much benefit because of the freshness (of/in the gospel) that these give. Also, any believer who wants to become more gospel-centered & rooted in the life-changing application of the gospel ought to dive into this text. This book has the potential to change church-goers into disciples who live the greatest story ever told & sung.

Thank you, Crossway Publishers, for providing this text for the purpose of review.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is an Excellent Resource! Read this Book! 28 Mar. 2013
By Jarrod Manning - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I lived in Louisville for five years while attending Southern Seminary and have seen, first-hand, the ministry of Mike Cosper. I was very excited to get a copy of his book and read it as soon as it arrived.
After reading "Rhythms of Grace," I can say it was all I thought it would be and more. Not only does Mike share his thoughts on music ministry in the church, but he gives a concise history of worship in the church. This book was both educational and practical. His balanced approach to some of the "hottest" topics in the current "Worship wars" is insightful and helpful.

Rhythms of Grace gave me a framework to assist me in planning worship services that proclaim the gospel to Christians and non-Christians alike. It will be a resource that I will continually go back to in teaching others and in my personal ministry work. I'm thankful for this resource and appreciate Mike Cosper's thoughtful and pastoral approach to music ministry in the church.

I am planning on purchasing copies for my pastor and our worship team; I would urge anyone involved in local church ministry to do the same.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of those 10/10 books I wish I read when I first started serving in music ministry 3 May 2013
By William Chong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
GENRE: Christian ministry / worship

SIZE: 223 pages. Just 10 chapters and 3 Appendices. I read through the whole thing in 2 days, and again more slowly over the course of several weeks.

The gospel is all about worship - once broken by sin - restored in Jesus. Worship, whether scattered or gathered, is all about rehearsing the gospel story, and being shaped by it.

Amazingly Mike starts not by defining worship. Instead, for the first 4 chapters he walks the reader through how the Bible describes worship - from Eden, the wilderness, in Israel, and then in Jesus (biblical theology).

Chapter 5 is the clincher where Mike unpacks the "Worship 1-2-3″ paradigm he uses to summarise what worship means for the local church (first described in this interview - [...] Basically, worship has one object (the Triune God), two contexts (gathered and scattered), and three audiences (God himself, the gathered church, and the watching world). With this paradigm, Mike shows how many of our disagreements about worship comes from overemphasising one of these aspects. For example:

"You'll find that many of the heated battles of the worship wars erupt when these categories get confused. For instance, the well-intentioned seeker-sensitive movement seems to have lost sight of the church as an audience in worship (and a crucial one). Those who would rather lie in bed and watch The Masters on Sunday have lost sight of the call to gather with God's church. Those who compartmentalize their "church" life from their hellish "secular" life forget that they are living sacrifices, and all of life is an act of worship. (p.86)"

Chapters 6-8 focuses more on defining and fleshing out gathered worship as spiritual formation, as historically rooted in the story of the church, as an opportunity to rehearse the gospel story (he terms it "rhythms of grace", hence the title). Chapters 9-10 address singing as worship, and the pastoral responsibility of planning and leading worship.

The appendices are also helpful as they include sample service orders from a few different churches, a list of recommended resources, and a discussion about audio/sound engineering in gathered worship (with a rocket of an anecdote in it!).

Yes for me. Mike writes creatively, and spins wonderful prose throughout the book to describe and explain the nature of true worship, and to answer questions about it.

If you're not a worship leader or church musician some of the terms and references may be a bit new, as Mike assumes the reader is aware of things like "worship wars" and other in-house concepts. But he does try to explain each new term as it comes up, and his storytelling style is definitely easier to digest than the more academic styles of Bryan Chappell, DA Carson and David Peterson.

I finished this book loving Jesus - our true worship leader - more, and inspired to press on in retelling the gospel story when we gather as a church.

Reading the first four chapters of the book is biblical theology at its breathtaking best, imaginatively told and left me (numerous times) grateful for God's redemptive plan throughout history. If that's where the book ended, it would already have been a worthwhile read!

When tackling more contentious issues of musical style, sound, vision etc. Mike has a gracious tone coupled with a rapier wit that leaves you embarrassed to disagree with him, and appreciative of the wisdom he's curated from many helpful thinkers. I particularly appreciated:
- his great explanation of John 4:24′s worship in Spirit and in Truth"
- his critique of the Temple Model of worship planning (leading people into the throne room of God in music)
- his appeal for worship planning and leading to be seen as a pastoral task.
- his appeal for repetition and using non-singing elements in gathered worship (e.g. prayers, creeds, readings)

Most churches lack any real theology for worship, and most church leaders don't know why the church is gathering, and what the goal is. Mike gives a concise yet thorough primer, rooted in Scripture and history, to answer all this. He doesn't answer every question in-depth, and you don't get a stand-alone, one-sentence definition of worship. But after reading this book you'll definitely understand worship from a more biblical, gospel-centred, historically-rooted and theologically grounded perspective.

Anyone remotely interested in what we should do when we gather as Christians, especially worship leaders. This is one of those 10 out of 10 books that I wish I had read when I first started out serving in music ministry. I'd rate it even higher than books like Worship Matters and Worship by the Book, just because I think it's a more accessible read and is so gospel-saturated.


On worship:

"The story of worship as told in the Bible defines worship in a radically different and surprising way. It's a story that surprises us because we discover that it doesn't primarily feature us. The star of the story is God, who is at the center of all worship but is also at its origins in history and its origins in our hearts. The story of worship (like the story of the gospel) is all about God."

"The story of God and Israel is the story of God and us. The bleary hope sung by the patriarchs became a tearful slave song in Egypt, and in the deserts on the other side of the Red Sea another movement of the song began. "God lives with Israel" was the title of the movement. Its rhythms were carved into the flesh of lambs and goats, punctuated by a river of blood flowing out of the temple and shouts of "glory, hallelujah" as the divine presence filled the tabernacle."

"Like the beautiful movement of Psalm 22, the longing of the patriarchs, the weary blues of the wilderness, and the tear-filled lament of the exiles find themselves resolving into a glorious celebration hymn in the life, work, and song of Jesus. That's the story of worship: God creates, sin corrupts, but Christ redeems. And all of us get to sing along."

On gathered worship:

"Harold Best puts it like this: "We do not go to church to worship. But as continuing worshipers, we gather ourselves together to continue our worship but now in the company of brothers and sisters.""

""Speaking the truth in love" is not so much about interpersonal boldness as it is about a community that shares a confession, a unified expression of faith in the God who saved them. The gathered body teaches the Word and proclaims it together; we speak the truth in love as we sing, read the Scriptures, and remember the gospel together."

"...the gathering is unique not as an encounter with God (it is that, though God's presence is a constantly available comfort and help to the Christian); rather it's unique because it is an encounter with the people of God, filled with the Spirit of God, spurring one another along in the mission of God. Christ in me meets Christ in you."

"We gather because we have work to do. Ekklēsia emphasizes the work of the people. We gather to do our work, which is to say, we gather to remember, to encourage, and to spur one another on."

On musical styles and preferences:

"So let's all acknowledge this fact: for better or worse, our worship, regardless of our tradition or musical style or culture, is shaping the hearts and minds of our congregations. We are always teaching, shaping, and painting a picture of what the Christian life looks like. It's in this light that we should evaluate our gatherings. What are we saying about "normal" Christianity? How do our services reflect the way the gospel changes our perspective on the world? What are we saying to those who suffer? To the poor? The rich? Those who are like us? Those who are unlike us?"

"My friend Isaac Wardell... asks whether we think of gathered worship as being more like a concert hall or a banquet hall. If it's a concert hall, we show up as passive observers and critics, eager to have the itches of our preferences and felt needs scratched. A banquet hall, by contrast, is a communal gathering. We come hungry and in community, ready to participate and share the experience with one another."

On worship wars:

"Whoever dubbed the debate over musical style a "worship war" failed to realize that worship is always a war. The declaration that there is one God, that his name is Jesus, and that he has died, has risen, and will come again is an all-out assault on the saviors extended at every level of culture around us."

"Every hymn of praise is a little anti-idolatry campaign. . . . When we sing "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow," we are also saying "Down with the gods from whom no blessings flow.""

"Today, when many worship services are reduced to preaching and music, it becomes very easy to equate music with worship--and that's a dangerous slope to park your car on. If music is worship, then when you mess with someone's musical preferences, you threaten their access to God. No wonder the debates become so heated."

"We need to remember that the hymn tradition, with its strict melodies and unity of voice, is but one stream of congregational song. There are other cultural traditions and other ways of participating in singing with the church."

"The rock ensemble is part and parcel of our culture. It's how people celebrate, and I don't think it's going away any time soon. So go ahead and use it, but don't let it rule the gathering. Pull the band out for a song or two, leave choruses open so that voices can be heard. Train your musicians to restrain, restrain, restrain. If your church isn't singing, you're doing it wrong."

VERDICT: Must read for pastors, worship leaders, musicians, anyone involved on Sunday morning. Good to read for all Christians.
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