Preaching as Worship

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.


One thought on “Preaching as Worship

  1. Thanks Kent for this review. I have led worship for over 15 years and have experimented with a whole variety of styles and formats, within the context of churches will all sorts of expectations. Now, as I am heading out into a period where I will more regularly be bringing the sermon in a Sunday morning context, I recognize many similarities between the two roles, as well as the very same pitfall. Assuming that both Worship leader (and entire worship team) and the speaker are all seeking to be led by God’s Spirit, the rest of the coordination is often left to come together on its own. This may look “spiritual” on the outside, but might it not be through the sharing of ideas and life experiences that the entire group of people involved in crafting the Sunday morning moment of encounter may hear from the Spirit and receive the guidance to fully communicate what is on God’s heart? Furthermore, will the purposefulness of this communication and sharing not grow relationships and openness between the leaders, thus exemplifying the work of God in the community of faith that the leadership wants to exemplify to the entire assembly?

    As you said, Kent, this will require time and effort. But I believe that the spiritual depth and relational and personal maturity that will result from this are well worth the cost.

    I am also interested in reading for myself the author’s ideas on keeping track of the “big picture” in both worship and preaching. I often find myself trying to explain the content of certain songs at the outset of a time of worship or right in the middle as I fear that the great riches found therein might be lost by the congregants if I don’t do so. It is not that I think the people are not for the most part sufficiently informed theologically to grasp these truths, but rather that I fear their expectancy is too limited to grasp how they apply to God’s great redemptive work for all of creation–as well as how it applies to them individually.

    I look forward to discovering how preaching and worship, the details and the wide scope, the personal experience and the corporate plan of God communicated in word and song can all be integrated into a deeper and more applicable church experience.

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