The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World
Sandra Maria Van Opstal
In her most recent book The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, Sandra Maria Van Opstal presents a convincing case for why diverse or multicultural worship must become normal and expected in our churches rather than reserved for special events. Van Opstal does so using biblical evidence, leadership resources, engaging metaphors and her own personal experiences as a worship leader and trainer.
Beginning with the first pages, Van Opstal gives scriptural reasons for diverse worship. She turns to oft-quoted passages in Revelation of what believers are looking forward to celebrating in heaven and then asks, if this is our ideal why aren’t churches engaging in this now? She emphasizes throughout the book “congregational worship should reflect the diversity of God’s people” ( 14) and “in worship we experience the now-but-not-yet of God’s kingdom” (15). These two concepts are set forth not as ideals to reach in the future, but as what worship in our churches ought to be now.
As Van Opstal continues to unpack this topic, she uses the images of table and food to convey ideas. These images are fitting biblically given the importance of the Lord’s table in worship but also the important themes of having a worship service that is hospitable to everyone. Illustrations of a potluck and the etiquette question of what to bring when going to dinner at someone’s home are used to convey important concepts regarding planning worship, how to involve diverse worship team members, and including the entire church in worship.
While definitely emphasizing worship, Van Opstal touches on a wide variety of broader leadership issues, including how leadership is structured on worship teams and other ministry teams including, but not limited to, gender, ethnic, and socio-economic issues. Readers are reminded that the Christian life, and particularly ministry, is not about our comfort but about making others feel comfortable in order that we may share Christ with them. As such The Next Worship is a very important addition to every Christian leaders’ bookshelf.