The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2020
Matthew Kaemingk / Cory Willson
Paperback: Baker Academic, 2020.
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Work and Worship is in fact the single best book I have read on rethinking our relationship between worship and work. In it, the authors seek to reconcile the professional and faithful lives of the congregation. Worship, they argue, is where that incarnational moment can happen. To help guide churches to the point where their worship becomes integrated with their work outside of worship, the authors organized their book into three parts. Part 1 explores theologies and practices of worship and how that impacts workers, both positively and negatively. In Part 2, the authors explore biblical and historical practices of integrating work and worship. Most of this section lingers in the Old Testament, with two chapters on work and discipleship in the early church. In Part 3, Work and Worship moves to practices that can help churches make this connection on their own.
The first standout feature of this book is that it is painfully real. It bears in mind that people have jobs that they enjoy and that are drudgery. It remembers that people are blue collar and white collar. It operates on the knowledge that people are formed within their work spaces, because those are the spaces where people spend most of their time. These authors understand that work, like the rest of creation, is both deeply flawed and steeped in sin, while also something that can be reconciled to God (13, 226-28).
The second major strength of the book is that Work and Worship decentralizes theology, moving it away from the clergy and ecclesial institution into the hands of the people. Throughout, the authors have clergy playing a facilitator role rather than a teaching or presiding one. There is no clericalism to be found here; just the opposite in fact. Ordinary people are “ordained in the priesthood of all believers,” and they have a role to play in the parish of their workplaces (230-31). Worship is not just about their theological instruction, and the church is not about programming opportunities to monopolize the lay person’s time. It is about preparing people to take their faith into every aspect of their lives.
- From our review of this book, written by Allen Stanton,
to be published in full on our website soon
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