Brief Reviews, Volume 9

Sandra Maria Van Opstal – The Next Worship [Review]

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0830841296″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Experiencing  the Now-But-Not-Yet
of God’s Kingdom

A Brief Review of 

The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World
Sandra Maria Van Opstal

Paperback:  IVP Books, 2016.
Buy now: [ [easyazon_link identifier=”0830841296″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ] [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B01BDW9AF4″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]
Reviewed by Leslie Starasta

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.


C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
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