One of the most significant experiences in planning and experiencing worship, both privately and corporately in the CBWC family has been facilitated by the book Gathering for Worship: Patterns and Prayers for the Disciples. It is edited by Christopher Ellis and Myra Blyth and published by the Baptist Union of Great Britain which is comprised of about 2000 churches and like ourselves, finds itself in a sea of under attended liturgical churches like the Anglicans and Methodists on the one hand and a strengthening Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church on the other hand.
While retaining a ‘free church tradition’, it looks at how the faith language of the people, like ourselves liturgically, can be framed in a worship tradition that is structured, yet open to the Holy Spirit. About half of our churches have been using the Gathering for Worship book, which includes a disc that accompanies the book with the entire text in it.
Some of the people who have found this book helpful are the following:
I have found this book to be a great resource for leading worship as it is creative, fresh and refreshing, well organized and accessible to the user. More than anything, however, I appreciate this book for the way it consistently draws and beckons the worshipper into the depths of beauty and wonder of God and his kingdom. Les Biggs, Elk Lake Baptist Church, Victoria, BC
I’ve use this as much for personal refreshment as for planing corporate worship. The prayers and responsive readings are magnificent. The book as a whole clarifies, edifies, and inspires. Mark Buchanan, New Life Community Baptist Church, Duncan, BC
Gathering for Worship is an invaluable resource for both pastoral and lay worship leaders. This book provides practical and hands-on insights rooted in a solid theology of worship. Its emphasis on the worshipping church as a community of disciples gives a prophetic voice that challenges individualism and consumerism in contemporary culture that heavily influence church life today. Chung-Yan Joyce Chan, Associate Professor of Church History, Carey Theological College
I use Gathering For Worship in conjunction with A Manual for Worship and Service. I appreciate it because it often has material that is fresh and broader in scope than the other manuals I have. As a congregation, we often use its responsive readings, and they are very helpful for our worship times together. Mark Doerksen, Willowlake Baptist Church, Winnipeg, MB
Gathering for Worship is a superbly crafted work published by the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It provides thoughtfully worded resources for just about every possible worship service. The book’s strongest feature is that, throughout, it is informed by a clear theology of worship. The pattern which it presents (the diagrams illustrating this early in the book are brilliant) is the historic Reformed approach to worship, which leads the worshipper through all the essential elements of worship in logical order. The Reformed pattern begins with the approach to God, in a Call to Worship, a hymn or song of praise. Entering into God’s presence should then make us aware of our sinfulness which brings us to a prayer of confession. God’s people, having heard words of assurance, then, naturally move to hearing what God is saying to them in his word. Great emphasis is placed upon extensive reading of Scripture, followed by the sermon. Then having heard God’s word, the movement is toward response. Here then is the place for prayers of thanksgiving and petition, notices and the offering (seen as response) and finally the people of God are commissioned to go out into the world to live out their faith. Gathering for Worship provides a multitude of resources for each of these elements. I have just spent two months of sabbatical leave at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University. RPC is the Baptist private hall at Oxford, and one of the co-authors of Gathering for Worship, Rev. Myra Blyth teaches there. I had many opportunities for conversation with Myra, and also saw the theology of worship reflected in this work being practiced. Regardless of whether a chapel service at RPC was designated as “traditional,” “contemporary,” “alternative,” or “Celtic” it inevitably was informed by the same careful theology of worship with which this book imbued. Too often, I believe, evangelical worship is not deeply informed by an underlying theology of worship. There is a notion that having a structure means somehow being stifled. In fact having a structure provides enormous freedom, as a good structure insures all the essential elements of worship will always be present. Instead of having to reinvent the wheel week by week, I can focus on the content of the service, drawing from many different resources. I’ve drawn on this particular resource frequently over the last two or three years, and I strongly recommend it! Mark McKim, First Baptist Church, Regina, SK
There is still a larger pool of experiences to draw from, but I’ll leave that for another day. Here are some words from David Coffey, who, when he wrote this, was the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the President of the Baptist World Alliance. In his forward he wrote;
“Christian worship is the most momentous, the most urgent, and the most glorious action that can take place in human life.”
These words of Karl Barth encourage us to see worship as an action, which is at the heart of the Christian community:
Through Christian worship we are summoned to meet the God who gives us life, sets us free from sin, transforms us into the likeness of Christ, calls us to witness in a broken world and empowers us to look for the coming of the King.
(I personally would consider the conversion experience to be the most momentous action of the human life, but I understand Barth’s point)
In worship we gather as disciples of Jesus, we open ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit and we offer all that we are and might be to the God of all Hope.
When we leave the place of communal worship, our eyes are refreshed to see where God is working in the world and we are strengthen with a new obedience to walk in the words and ways of Jesus.
“…I pray that like the Apostle John, we will be “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day”, and hope to the possibility of our imaginations being refurnished as we worship the Living Lord. May we be empowered for witness in God’s mission among all people everywhere – to God be the glory”
Good words from David Coffey.
I commend this book for personal reflection and preparation as an outline, which only a Holy Spirit-inspired listening will frame properly for worship.
We are about to order copies of this book from England. We are awaiting information from them regarding the cost of the book and shipping and handling charges. If you are interested in ordering a copy/s once the books arrive, please email Claudia Wakeman, email@example.com and you will receive further information later this month.