TGC Worship, a new blog from The Gospel Coalition, seeks to promote gospel-centered worship throughout the church by training and equipping leaders in the Word-shaped ministry of singing, songwriting, and service planning.
As described in TGC's Theological Vision for Ministry, we believed gospel-centered ministry is characterized by empowered corporate worship.
The gospel changes our relationship with God from one of hostility or slavish compliance to one of intimacy and joy. The core dynamic of gospel-centered ministry is therefore worship and fervent prayer. In corporate worship God's people receive a special life-transforming sight of the worth and beauty of God, and then give back to God suitable expressions of his worth. At the heart of corporate worship is the ministry of the Word. Preaching should be expository (explaining the text of Scripture) and Christ-centered (expounding all biblical themes as climaxing in Christ and his work of salvation). Its ultimate goal, however, is not simply to teach but to lead the hearers to worship, individual and corporate, that strengthens their inner being to do the will of God.
While this statement focuses on preaching, the implications of robust gospel centrality surely do not end there. In the same way that preaching should be expository and Christ-centered, so should the rest of the congregational gathering. Christian worship is built upon, shaped by, and saturated with the Word of God. Our songs, prayers, and liturgies tell the world what we hold to be true. In all matters of faith, life, and practices (both liturgical and otherwise), we pray to be formed and informed by the perfect Word of God.
In Scripture we find examples that teach us about the rhythms of theocentric worship (Isaiah 6, Deuteronomy 5, 2 Chronicles 5-7, John 4, Romans 11-15, Revelation 4-21). Through the lens of the gospel, we learn to see congregational worship (preaching, singing, confession, prayer, Scripture reading, communion, baptism) not simply as a ritual, but as a regular opportunity to lift our eyes and see anew the glorious gospel of grace. This gospel enables true worship of God.
Role of the Worship Leader
But many churches don't operate from a theological practice of worship because they are led by Christians who haven't developed a theological conviction of worship. Many of our worship practices are influenced far greater by the voice of culture than by the Word of God. This is a critical time for the worship of the church to be biblical, theological, and pastoral.
The purpose of this effort is clearly stated in the new book Doxology and Theology:
One of the greatest needs of the modern church is theologically driven worship leaders. The church is starving for worship leaders who will teach them to sing about the great gospel of Christ in all its richness. This need for theologically driven worship leaders exists in large part because many believe that worship leadership and theological aptitude are mutually exclusive. Theology, they believe, is the occupation of pastors and professors, while worship is the business of church musicians and songwriters. So pastors and professors teach the truth and the worship leaders lead the singing. And because of this, our churches are limping along with people who do not understand that the greatest truths of the gospel have always been designed to cause the greatest praise.
In the midst of this confusion is a generation of worship leaders who are hungry to deepen their biblical understanding so that the people of God can recover gospel-saturated worship. They desire to think theologically, not just pragmatically. They want to know and understand the fullness of the role of the worship leader, not just how to lead three verses and a chorus. Furthermore, pastors and churches alike increasingly express a desire to be led by thoughtful worship leaders who understand the life-changing marriage between doxology and theology.
New TGC Worship Blog
To help further the conversation of gospel-centered worship, we are pleased to announce the launch of the TGC Worship blog. As church leaders and preaching pastors have found The Gospel Coalition to be a wealth of resources both theological and practical, the new TGC Worship blog seeks to equip all those entrusted with oversight of congregational worship. Ranging from topics of theology and philosophy to practical insights and songwriting, the goal of this blog is to equip and encourage leaders of worship to remain faithful to Scripture while engaging the culture with art to the glory of God.
Regular contributors to this new blog include:
- Mike Cosper (Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky)
- Matt Papa (Summit Church, Raleigh, North Carolina)
- Michael Bleecker (The Village Church, Flower Mound, Texas)
- Aaron Ivey (Austin Stone, Austin, Texas)
- Stephen Miller (The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri)
- Andi Rozier (Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois)
- Bob Kauflin (Sovereign Grace Music, Louisville, Kentucky)
- Joe Crider (Southern Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky)
- Ron Man (Worship Resources International, Memphis, Tennessee)
- Kevin Twit (Indelible Grace Music, Nashville, Tennessee)
I will serve as editor of this multi-author blog that will also include many other voices in the worship conversation.
We pray that this blog glorifies God and serves local churches as together we continue in all humility and faithfulness to herald the good news of the gospel in both sermon and song. As this conversation of gospel-centered worship continues, we must realize it is truly only beginning. For those passionate about adding to the conversation, come and join in.