Boswell, Matt, ed. Doxology & Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader. Nashville, B&H Publishing Group, 2013. 233 pp.
I have had the honor of serving as Pastor of Music and Community at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church for twelve years and experiencing the tension of the overwhelming joy coupled with the pressing weight of the role of leading the people of God in worship. When I pick up my guitar and lift up my voice each Lord’s Day, my passion is to lead those gathered for worship in biblically-saturated, Christ-exalting worship in such a way that those participating in glorifying our Creator together know Him more fully as a result of the worship experience. I lead with the premise that God has graciously revealed Himself through the pages of Scripture; therefore, we respond with worship in accordance with the truth therein. Within the throes of the battle to lead God’s people in biblical worship, Matt Boswell’s Doxology and Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader is an excellent resource that provides prescient instruction for those in the trenches of worship leadership.
Summary and Evaluation
In Doxology and Theology, Matt Boswell and a host of other worship leaders combine to guide others who share the platform of leading worship by providing a refreshing framework for leading worship—one that is founded on and saturated with the truth of the Bible. Boswell builds this framework by describing the dance that exists between the partners of truth and worship. He states, “Theology shapes doxology” and explains—with the unique ability of a song-writer—that our doxology (praise in response to truth) is an impossibility without theology. Without the knowledge of the One we worship given to us in Scripture, our most zealous attempts at worship would be aimless at best. “The rhythm of worship is revelation and response: our beliefs about God’s revelation dictate our response” (12). Because of the dance that exists between theology and doxology, worship leaders cannot divorce the two. In the remainder of the book, Boswell and other worship leaders describe the graceful movement those who gather for corporate worship experience each Lord’s Day.
Boswell begins the description of this dance by correcting the disjointed understanding of many who may approach worship with the idea that theology is the concern of the preacher and doxology is the concern of the worship leader. He argues rightly that the worship leading role in the church is inextricably linked to an understanding of theology and, therefore, is in many ways pastoral in nature. The worship leader leads the body in truth through song in much the same way that the preacher leads the body in truth through sermon.
As he develops this thought, Boswell states that the worship leader serves as a “functional elder” and concludes that, because of the shepherding role of the worship leader, the worship leading position in the church should be filled by men regardless of whether or not the church declares them a pastor/elder (24). With the church suffering as a result of increasingly confused societal positions on gender roles, Boswell’s stand on the matter was both courageous and sound, although such a position could have and perhaps should have been presented with more explanation since the term “functional elder” is nowhere mentioned in Scripture. Regardless, his position reiterates the high-calling of the worship leader within the life of the church, a calling that deserves the study and understanding of the revelation that provides the basis for his leadership in worshipful response.
The many contributors to Doxology and Theology creatively develop the worship leader by describing from various points of view the myriads of ways theology leads to doxology. The book’s structure flows from the theological foundations of the Trinity, the gospel, and the primacy of Scripture in worship to challenge the leader to utilize worship as a divinely appointed weapon wielded by the church for missions and discipleship within the contexts of the home, the church, and to the ends of the earth. The many perspectives from which the authors write enhance the multi-faceted topics they cover while providing a refreshing understanding and framework to the role of worship leader.
As one who lives and leads inside the bounds of this revelation and response paradigm, I found the book both extremely refreshing and immensely helpful in the ways the authors captured and consolidated this dynamic dance of truth and response. The book is a useful tool to all worship leaders (including those that lead worship from the pulpit) as well as to passionate lay people who gather to respond to God’s truth in corporate worship.
Nate BeVier, Pastor of Music and Community at Ashland Ave. Baptist Church in Lexington, KY