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Transformation Church (Worship: Actively Embrace Jesus) by Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer

The 25 page chapter on worship in this book is perhaps the best writing I have ever read on the topic of worship and church music, period.  As a worship leader/church music director I’ve read a lot on the subject, but Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer hit the nail on the head.

Transformational Church is a book which reports the results of a ground breaking study done on the American Church which identified seven principles of what the authors term “Transformational Churches”.  What exactly is a TC?  In short, it’s a church where members are learning to live move like Jesus, where the church is growing not just in numbers but also spiritual maturity.

I’ll be honest and tell you up-front I didn’t read the entire book.  Instead, I decided to focus on that area of the book related to the ministry over which I have the most direct impact: worship and music.  I didn’t start that way, but after reading the introduction to the book where they lay out their research, summarize their findings, and also identify each of the seven principles, I decided to focus my time on the principal of worship.  So the only principal of the seven I read a chapter on was the principal worship.  For the record, then, I read chapters 1-2 and 7.   The 25 pages of chapter seven, however, took me three days to wade through (instead of less than an hour), and I’ll be going back to the chapter to re-read it again and again and I work to implement their suggestions in my ministry.

Will I read the other chapters?  Yes, but for now I need to focus on what I am responsible for and not allow myself to get side tracked.  I will say I did skim some of the other chapters, particularly the ones on mission mentality, leadership, prayer, and building relationships.  While the study focused on those areas from a church-wide perspective I was able to read the principles in relation to just the music ministry, so I will be going back to do a more focused-study of them later .  My theory on music ministry (and really leadership in general) is that the music ministry (or whatever ministry you are leading) is a microcosm of the entire church, so principles that can apply to the entire church can be applied in the specific ministry.

Let me speak specifically about the chapter on worship: it summarized the principles of worship precisely while at the same time bravely opening up Pandora’s box in discussing musical style.  While I take issue with their final conclusion on the issue of a blended service (something I’ll write more about on my blog, I Respond to Jesus, directed specifically towards church music and worship directors in the coming days), I agree with their over-all assessment, reminding the readers that in the end everything is about God and not about our own personal preferences.  Perhaps the best way to summarize where the chapter goes is to reflect on this question raised in the chapter: “Do we see evidence of God changing lives as a result of our worship services?”  If you want to see how to answer that question in the affirmative, then check out this book!

One final note.  While the book is published by Lifeway and the study was conducted by Lifeway Research, it is not a Baptist book by any means.  In fact, the churches studied in the book (and mentioned by name) are from many different denominations – I can’t even say the majority of them are Baptist.  They did a fantastic job of looking at the broad spectrum of churches in America today.

For more information on the study you can visit the Transformation Church website by clicking here, view an introductory video on YouTube by clicking here, or even access their online community on Facebook by clicking here.

This is a chapter that needs to be read by every church music director, and the book is one that really needs to be read in its entirety by every pastor and church leader in America.   This book definitely gets a 5/5 stars

Cross posted on I Respond to Jesus

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Filed under Church Leadership, Fiction, Worship