Unceasing Worship – Harold M. Best
Unceasing worship by Harold M. Best is a book about what it means to live a life of worship. There have been numerous christian books written on this subject, many about the fact that we should not limit our worship to a time or place. Best goes further – the main emphasis of his book being about the concept of ‘continuous outpouring’ or ‘continuous worship’ and its implications. The writing style is accessible, but the content is not light reading. This book is aimed at all worshippers, with particular chapters specific to pastors, christian artists, songwriters and worship leaders.
The first half of the book focusses on the question ‘what is worship?’, beginning at creation and ending with Christ as the centre of our worship. Best uses biblical exegesis, but his arguments are philosophical in nature.
The second half of the book is extremely practical and focusses specifically on the arts and music. A large portion of the discussion is devoted to the ongoing argument of traditional versus contemporary methods of worship within the church. This then extends to an examination of how culture has influenced the church and how this has subsequently influenced the world’s view of the church.
Best speaks from a reformed perspective, his view of God’s sovereignty pervades the text;
‘We cannot afford to say that because he did such and such, he acts. Rather, he acts as he wishes even as we do such and such, not on the basis of the action, but because he is the sovereign Lord over a plan in which, by grace alone, we participate and to which our actions contribute as offerings, not levers or on-off buttons.‘ Chapter 7.
I found this book challenging in two ways. Firstly, I have heard over and over from various sources what it means to live a life of worship in the simplest possible terms. Best’s book really delves into the heart of what Christ-centered, authentic worship truly is;
‘We must understand that joy, pleasure and adoration are neither valid nor complete unless they can be shown and lived out in a variety of circumstances. Then, if a certain activity in a certain place, say, worship music, works its spell upon us, we need to be sure that this experience in no way substitutes for the experience we have by being in Christ as continuous outpourers when there is no music.‘ Chapter 9.
Secondly, as someone involved in worship on a very practical level myself, I found it extremely helpful in pointing out how our creativity as singers, musicians and songwriters should mirror God’s. He urges us to push the boundaries and be as diverse in our creativity and artistry as God is in his;
‘I would encourage all contemporary songwriters to go beyond the usual worship-related constraints and to explore the whole counsel of God, the extreme width and depth of the human condition, to leave no doctrinal stone unturned and to make sure that the body of Christ is fully equipped to sing its way through the entire catechism of the work of God.‘ Chapter 8.
Best’s style is to the point and at times, blunt and cutting. He does not hold back and often berates the church as a whole and on an individual level for various failings, including laziness, snobbery, envy and stasis.
I enjoyed this book immensely and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone, but especially those closely involved in worship in their local churches. It is ambitious, clever, witty, profound and above all, Christ-centered.
‘For the authentic worshipper, nothing but God is awesome. Only Christ went through hell last week. Only the most holy moment justifies the honour of saying ‘My God.” Chapter 13.
Unceasing worship can be purchased here.