Worship is a Verb: Eight Principles for Transforming Worship by Robert E. Webber
The title of this book, Worship is a Verb, might suggest that it is the major premise of the book. Indeed, in the first chapter Webber lays out his contention that worship is a verb – something we are to be doing. He continues to come back to this thought throughout the book. Description of the Book
Chapter 1, Winds of Change
The author begins the book with his personal frustration with worship and his perception that there is a widespread shift in thinking concerning worship. He lists five new insights he has had concerning worship and eight principles of worship. The author expands on these eight principles in the next nine chapters.
Chapter 2 covers the first principle that “worship celebrates Christ” (Webber, 2004, p. 21). Webber tries to lay out the Biblical basis for worship in this chapter. This chapter is mostly theoretical, but does include one illustration of how Webber sees a proper worship time unfolding.
Chapter 3 talks about the second principle that “worship tells and acts out the Christ-Event” (Webber, 2004, p. 43). In this chapter Webber talks about the historical order of worship. Chapter 4 talks about the third principle, “In Worship God Speaks and Acts” (Webber, 2004, p. 65). Webber says that God speaks through the Word and acts through the Bread and Wine (pp. 71-80).
Chapter 5 is on principle four – “Worship is an act of communication” (Webber, 2004, p. 85). Webber talks about the communication of the primary symbols, the Word and Table, and of the secondary symbols, which include personal preparation, the Preparation and Dismissal movements of worship, and body language.
Chapter 6 covers the fifth principle which is, “In worship we respond to God and each other” (Webber, 2004, p. 109). Webber talks about how we respond to God Himself, God’s actions, and the specific. He spends some time talking about images and their use in worship as well as giving examples of how people respond in worship.
Chapter 7 discusses Webber’s sixth principle of worship that we should return worship to the people. Webber talks about worship being a meeting between God and His people, suggesting that there is dialogue in this meeting. He also suggests the participation of every person in worship will help restore the concept of the priesthood of all believers. He also talks about the tension between order and freedom in worship. In this chapter Webber includes a large section that contains suggestions and examples of how individuals can participate in worship. Chapters 8 and 9 both deal with the seventh principle of worship – “All creation joins in worship” (Webber, 2004, p. 156). Chapter 8 is devoted to the discussion of time as a vehicle of worship. Webber spends some time talking about the church year and its importance in worship. Chapter 9 discusses using space, sound, and the arts as vehicles of worship. Chapter 10 covers the final principle of worship that says worship should be a way of life. This chapter is divided into sections on “worship and prayer”, “worship and the family”, “worship and work”, “worship and social action”, and “worship and evangelism” (Webber, 2004, pp. 205- 213).
The book ends with a short epilogue in which Webber includes practical suggestions on how to implement the principles and suggestions of his book into one’s church. He advocates a slow process of changing worship practices so that the congregation will see the benefits instead of rejecting the changes without understanding why there might be need for a change. A bibliography includes a number of sources about worship that would be beneficial to the person wanting to study more about worship.
Webber begins this book by discussing his personal frustration with worship that can be easily understood by those who have also felt they don’t really worship in the worship service. Webber’s personal tone throughout the...