Worship and the World to Come
Christians sing because we are people of hope.
Yet our hope is unlike other kinds of hope. We are not optimists; nor are we escapists. Christian hope is uniquely shaped by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and by the promise of our own future resurrection.
How is that hope both expressed and experienced in contemporary worship? In this volume in the Dynamics of Christian Worship series, pastor, theologian, and songwriter Glenn Packiam explores what Christians sing about when they sing about hope and what kind of hope they experience when they worship together. Through his analysis and reflection, we find that Christian worship is crucial to both the proclamation and the formation of Christian hope.
The Dynamics of Christian Worship series draws from a wide range of worshiping contexts and denominational backgrounds to unpack the many dynamics of Christian worship—including prayer, reading the Bible, preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, music, visual art, architecture, and more—to deepen both the theology and practice of Christian worship for the life of the church.
"Worship and the World to Come is a timely and highly significant volume. Glenn Packiam shows us how there is a pressing need for careful, theologically sensitive studies that review the fast-growing contemporary worship scene."
"In this book Glenn Packiam offers a deep and insightful perspective on Christian hope as it is lived out within real Christian communities. While there has been much useful conceptual work done on the theology of hope from the perspective of systematic theology, relatively little is known about what it means when it is lived out within worshiping communities. For Packiam, worship and hope are deeply tied together. Worship is 'the place where we rehearse our hope,' a place where hope becomes embedded within us. It matters how we worship, and it matters that we look carefully at the ways in which we worship if we are to hope faithfully. By gathering rich and deep empirical data and using it as a locus for theological reflection, Packiam not only helps us to understand hope more fully, he also moves our understanding on in important ways. This book is an important contribution to the emerging field of theological ethnography and a worthy contribution to the church and academy."
"Glenn Packiam in this book Worship and the World to Come has embarked on a journey less traveled by a practitioner-scholar in the contemporary praise and worship (CPW) field. Often, CPW has been accused of valuing emotional experiences at the expense of robust theological thought. Through this work, Packiam has done much to redress this notion in the investigation of Christian hope as understood in normative theological thoughts and parsing it within the frame of CPW worship practices. It is an illuminating work that reflects his keen scholarship while staying true to his spirituality. This book showcases the maturation of CPW practice—or, if we dare, CPW worship tradition—with its practice undergirded by theological thought."
"The New Testament is quite clear: Christians are to lean into the future with hope. 'Look forward,' the Scriptures say time and again. But what is the actual tilt of that leaning found in Christians today? In his book Glenn Packiam provides a fascinating answer to this question with special reference to contemporary worship and worshipers. Seeing how he describes how Christians today hope in the future, I was at times encouraged by what I read and at others deeply alarmed. Scholars, pastors, and rank-and-file worshipers alike will benefit from Packiam's study. It has immediate pastoral impact for assessing and promoting a biblical, hopeful leaning into God's future in Christ."
"There is now a growing number of theologically trained worship thinkers and practitioners interested in moving past the old 'worship wars' of style toward a deeper, more thoughtful type of worship training (or catechism). This book promotes training to produce the fruit the Bible encourages us to grow—fruit that fills each of us as Christians, that is, as Jesus-followers, with an irresistible, irrepressible hope for what is to come. Dr. Glenn Packiam is committed to what is sometimes now out of vogue, the notion of discipleship. His evident dedication to the formation of the people of God makes this book worth reading. In fact, this is what many of us have long been hoping for—a book that simplifies complex theological concepts into very useful frames for worship leaders and worshipers who may not have undertaken any formal study."
"If it is fundamentally impossible to be a Christian without hope, then all Christians at worship are in the business of singing themselves into a new story that beckons from the future—the good future of God in Christ that the Spirit makes palpable here and now in our public worship. That's the basic point that Glenn Packiam makes in this theologically learned, liturgically intelligent, and pastorally sensitive book—a book that deserves careful reading by scholars and pastors, along with every worship leader charged with the holy task of leading the people of God in song. Our calling as church leaders, as Packiam rightly sees it, is not only to announce our new future in Christ; our task is to enact and embody that new future in our songs of praise and proclamation. How and what we sing, then, become a singularly formative means by which the Spirit transforms our lives to be a sign and foretaste of God's new creation. That's the charge! That's the hope!"
"Worship songs have a profound influence on the contemporary church both enriching our understanding of the gospel and sometimes corrupting it. In this unique and outstanding book Glenn Packiam, composer, worship leader, and theologian, aids our comprehension of how worship should help us envisage and live in the world that Jesus has already inaugurated."
"Glenn Packiam has taken one of the most elusive ideas in Christian tradition—hope—set it alongside one of the most contested—eschatology—and grappled with how both inform the public worship life of American evangelicals. Set within a rich, multifaceted study of Christian worship in the contemporary United States, the result is a compelling exercise in practical theology that never shies away from uncomfortable truths. Packiam distills a wide range of sources, ideas, and arguments into a discussion of evangelical worship that is both deeply insightful and highly accessible. This is a piece of practical theology that is theologically serious and practically engaged, a consideration of hope and eschatology that is careful in its marshaling of theological scholarship and attentive to the complexities that reflect the life of evangelical churches in the twenty-first century. Scholars of evangelicalism, church leaders, and Christian worship professionals alike will find much wisdom in this timely volume."
"Glenn Packiam is a translator, enabling theology to speak to congregational worship ministry and enabling that ministry to communicate to theology. His qualifications? His own biography as both a worship leader and theologian, his sharply observed fieldwork, and his careful sifting of important theological and musical texts. Incisive, measured, and genuinely charitable, this book will provide the help theologians and worship leaders need to glean what they need from each other for their shared work in the kingdom of God."
"In Worship and the World to Come, Glenn Packiam delivers an accessible, engaging integration of the eschatological work of leading biblical scholars and theologians N. T. Wright and Jürgen Moltmann within the key and context of the practices of contemporary worship. The result is an inspiring theological vision for worship that situates our present life together as the church within the transformational redemptive purposes of God for all of creation. Packiam's pastoral and theological work in this book will nourish worshipers for the journey of faith by reorienting our gaze toward the goal of salvation—the new creation—as it breaks into the present by the power of the Spirit."
Part 1: Setting the Stage
1. What Is Practical Theology?
2. Contemporary Paradigms for Congregational Worship
Part 2: Hope and Eschatology
3. What Is Hope? Exploring Various Models of Hope
4. What Is Christian Hope? Early Visions of Eschatology
5. What Is Christian Hope? Eschatology in Contemporary Theology
Part 3: Evangelicals, Worship, and Hope
6. Hope Espoused: Popular Evangelical Eschatology
7. Hope Encoded: Examining Contemporary Worship Songs
8. Hope Experienced: Exploring Contemporary Worship Services
Part 4: The Spirit and the Church
9. The Spirit of Hope
10. Carriers of Hope