5 worship experiences. 4 weeks. 3 countries. 2 hooks. 1 heavy suitcase, stuffed with the gizmos and gadgets that are the stock and trade of a worship VJ (video jockey). Couched beneath my projector and iBook are two books that I intend to read and review on the plane trips between the conferences. Call it a worship road-test.
The two books being lugged around the world are The Great Worship Awakening: Singing a New Song in the Postmodern Church, by Robb Redman, a pastor and consultant from Texas; and All in Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion, by Robert Wuthnow, who directs the Study of Religion at Princeton University and has written other books on the topic.
The road ahead is creel and demanding. These books will be taken into the most extreme worship environments imaginable and be asked to perform with insight, perspective, and wise counsel.
To be honest, I don't expect a great deal of success. Redman's book appears to be about singing in church. It is written with papal nicety, in seminary prose, possibly too delicate to handle the demands of post-charismatic, post-Reformation worship. And yet it promises to be a "travel guide that points out the issues to encounter along the journey." But can it appreciate the intricacies of a nonlinear worship journey that avoids a pre-determined outcome? Let's wait and see.
Wuthnow's book takes a more scholarly approach, leaning on its backbone of research, a 400-strong choir of statistic-singing voices, each one a compelling argument that …