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Preaching as Worship – A Book Review

Michael J. Quicke. Preaching as Worship: An Integrative Approach to Formation in Your Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011. 279 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-8010-9226-8. $17.99 Paperback.

Michael Quicke has been a leading homiletician for several years, giving us terrific material such as 360-Degree Preaching. Preaching as Worship is yet another valuable resource for the church in general and pastors in particular. As the title suggests, this book focuses on the relationship between preaching and worship. Quicke’s aim is to “open preachers eyes afresh to glorious big picture worship” (20). He says, “I plead for a shift of worldview. Instead of claiming the supremacy of preaching as all-important, I dare claim the supremacy of worship, which includes preaching and much else” (21). He transparently and humbly weaves his personal discovery throughout this book, providing theological and practical insight along with personal testimony and experience.

Quicke says that preachers can become “myopic” (39), missing important details of life and leadership. He says often these preachers view the church as their own “preaching dome” (37). He argues that preachers have a bigger role than delivering sermons, and should see themselves as worship leaders.

In chapter 2, he provides several reasons why preachers are sometimes “not interested” in worship: (1) worship is considered less important, (2) worship is viewed as burdensome, (3) worship is seen as a specialist subject, (4) worship is deemed controversial, (5) worship is reckoned an enthusiasm, (6) worship causes personal pain, (7) worship is dismissed as boring, and (8) worship is just not understood. He encourages preachers to elevate their concept of worship saying, “Worship embraces vision, mission, and everything else, for nothing is more important than living together for God’s glory” (37).

He says that “myopic preaching” is marked by several characteristics, each showing a serious indicator that preachers have separated their task from worship. These indicators include: faulty definitions of worship (such as “music only” or “Sunday only”); a thin theology of worship; a non-directive use of Scripture (not using Scripture to direct the entire corporate worship service), “liturgical amnesia” (having low regard for 2,000 years of worship); feeble community formation (seeing corporate worship as something for individuals only); naïveté about culture; ambivalence about music; not living in God’s narrative (not showing people how they fit within God’s grand story); isolated preparation (preparing sermons separate from others, including musical worship leaders); and “worshipless sermons” (chapter 3).

Quicke then moves toward a fuller definition of worship. He points out that worship is bigger than preaching, is bigger than music, needs liturgy, needs some pragmatism, embraces mission, and is bigger than Sunday services (chapter 4). He proposes that true worship is God-empowered, all-inclusive, continuous, and Trinitarian (70-76).

Building on this theology, Quicke describes what “big picture preaching” looks like. He says that preachers should see themselves as worshipers, see preaching as an act of worship, and see how worship itself is proclamation. He adds that preachers should help the listeners learn how they belong to “God’s unfolding story.” He also states that “worshipful preachers” will actively seek “community transformation,” and most of all, big picture preaching means that preachers will no longer see their task apart from worship.

After setting out these foundational points and chapters, Quicke takes individual chapters to tease out his thoughts and the implications for preachers. Throughout the book, he also provides a “Question Toolbox” that summarizes his thought and serves as a tool for corporate worship preparation. The questions are:

  1. Gift: Are we thankfully receiving this gift from the Triune God of grace?
  2. Magnification: Are we expressing its richness toward God?
  3. Scripture: Are we allowing Scripture to direct?
  4. Audiences: Are we addressing two audiences? (God and people)
  5. Community: Are we building community by story?
  6. Mission: Are we enabling community to scatter?

As a homiletics professor, I plan on using Preaching as Worship because this is one of the only recent homiletics books to deal with this vital relationship between worship and preaching. I fear that many students may leave preaching classes thinking that if they can preach good sermons, then everything else will just sort of happen in the church. They certainly can become “myopic.” While I am committed to sending out expository preachers, I also want to send out “worship-leader preachers.” That means students need to think about how to incorporate the public reading of Scripture in gathered worship, select songs, how to work with the musical worship leader, do public prayer, create biblical community, celebrate the ordinances, and lead the mission of the church from the pulpit.

As a pastor, I plan on working through this book with our elders and pastoral interns. I was personally challenged, motivated and instructed by Quicke on this important topic.

  • As an author who slogged through five years of writing Preaching as Worship you can perhaps imagine my huge delight at reading your generous review. It’s not only that you have obviously read it carefully (your overview is so thorough – thank you) but you end with hopes to work through the book with your elders and pastoral interns. Hallellujah! That is my dream – that a number of pastors will be willing to make a practical response! Please keep me in the loop as you work through some of the issues. Like any book (especially one with an element of autobiography) much may prove irrelevant. But how much I long to see some worthwhile fruit in the kingdom. I am aware of one or two other pastors who are contemplating a practical response. I am praying for practical outcomes of big picture worship. Bless you Tony in all your ministry.