One of my frustrations with church has been the way that we typically separate preaching from worship. One of the churches I attended years ago seemed to have a particular problem with this dis-integrative tendency.
I loved this church. We would enjoy an extended time of musical worship, led by one of the most talented teams I have ever encountered. But then the “worship” would end. The platform would be changed with a pulpit brought out. The children noisily would leave. People dug out their papers and pencils. The pastor cracked a few jokes while fiddling with his lapel mike.
Everything about that transition signalled that we were no longer worshipping. Now we were about to receive teaching – valuable teaching for sure, but we were clearly no longer engaged in the act of worship.
For that reason, I was pleased to receive Michael Quicke’s new book, Preaching as Worship: An Integrative Approach to Formation in Your Church. The concern is timely and Quicke’s instruction is both thorough and insightful.
Integration is a difficult thing, and so it is probably fair to say that this book has more to say about worship than it does about preaching. I might suggest that it is probably best to read Preaching as Worship alongside Quicke’s earlier book, 360-Degree Preaching. Integrating these two resources will give the reader a fuller understanding of the ways by which biblical preaching and worship can combine to good effect.
Quicke applies some of the same tools that he introduced in 360-Degree Preaching, most notably, “the preaching swim” which here he re-purposes as “the worship swim.” ‘Swim’ is Quicke’s metaphor for the process of preparing to preach/worship. The book is helpful in describing tangible ways to go about creating a greater sense of collaboration between preachers and worship leaders, an aspect that is missing from many other similar books.
We should probably acknowledge, however, that all of this is going to take a lot more of our time – or perhaps will require a re-allocation of some of the ways by which we use our time. I would quickly add, however, that we don’t have to reject this approach for that reason. It may be that by embracing a more collaborative approach to our worship/preaching that we will end up with a more powerful result.
For example, I thought Quicke’s encouragement to use blogging as a way of enhancing this collaboration to be both current and helpful. I might add that involving worship leaders in the development of one’s sermonic thinking will lead to deeper, more reflective preaching as well.
The early stages of the book offer a deep theological discussion of the nature of both preaching and worship and how the two are properly read together. I particularly liked Quicke’s use of the term “myopic preaching” which he uses to describe preaching that avoids the “big picture” in favor of smaller, technical, bits of exegesis, unfortunately isolated from larger trinitarian themes. We ought to listen closely to Quicke on this matter.
At its best, the preacher is the church’s primary worship leader. Preaching ought to worship. Worship ought to preach. Quicke’s reminder of these things is welcome.
Michael J. Quicke, Preaching as Worship: An Integrative Approach to Formation in Your Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011.