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Review: Worship and Mission for the Global Church

William Carey Press, 2013. 608 pp.
In his seminal book Worship is a Verb, the late Robert Webber established a radical principle for worship: All creation joins in worship. But what does that look like? It can be difficult to recognize that the rest of the world worships differently than us—so how can this gap be reconciled? Krabill’s Worship and Mission for the Global Church: An Ethnodoxology Handbook is a one-of-a-kind resource, serving as an introduction to ethnodoxology. This tome is essentially a textbook on this emerging field in worship studies, a subject on which there has previously been little scholarship. Featuring a collection of essays from leading worship scholars from around the globe (including diverse voices such as John Witvliet, Jaewoo Kim, Harold Best, and John Piper), Worship and Mission was written by ICE (the International Council of Ethnodoxologists) in order to fill a much-needed gap in understanding the principles of multiethnic worship. Krabill and contributors are concerned that the transcultural principles of worship are only viewed through a monocultural lens. To that end, Worship and Mission has a threefold purpose: 1) to establish the biblical principles of worship, 2) to share stories of how biblical worship is being exemplified in international contexts, and 3) to provide tools for embracing ethnodoxology in local worship contexts.

Section I, “Foundations,” establishes the biblical, cultural, historical, missiological, liturgical, and personal foundations of Christian worship. It includes academic essays and personal reflections. Section II, “Stories,” features stories on how other cultures worship around the world. It is divided by region (Africa, Asia, America, Europe, etc.) and shares moving testimonies of how churches are applying the foundations of worship in diverse contexts. Section III, “Tools,” provides resources on implementing ethnodoxological principles in local worshipping communities. It covers art advocacy, teaching the arts, fostering multicultural worship, and discipling worshippers to have intercultural intelligence.

Ethnodoxologists are those called by God to learn from and encourage faithful artistic expression done in the name of Jesus Christ across the entire span of global cultures (Dr. John Witvliet, foreward)

Overall, this is an excellent book. While the size of this book may appear overwhelming, each chapter—148 in total—is short and easily digestible. It has a wide sweep and is designed to survey the entire field of ethnodoxology, from its principles to practices. The foundations are theologically solid, the stories are diverse and inspiring, and the tools are useful and applicable for most church contexts. Above all, Worship and Mission is a handbook, designed to be digested slowly, and discussion questions at the end of the book provide opportunities to discuss multiethnic worship among church leaders. This book would greatly benefit pastors, worship leaders, ministerial students, and scholars looking for an entry point to the exciting world of ethnodoxology. Krabill and the ICE team have compiled an excellent resource that will greatly benefit the Church and bridge the cultural gap that exists in, of all places, worship.

(My thanks is given to ICE for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review.)

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