Book review: What happens when we worship by Jonathan Landry Cruse

16 Jun 2021

By Tanwin Tanoto 


This book is about going to church. And no, I don’t mean logging on to YouTube.

In the era of online churches and Zoom meetings, going to church may be the most boring event in your week. But as Jonathan Landry Cruse shows, going to church is only boring and mundane because “our eyes are blinded to the supernatural wonder that is taking place all around us”. He also argues that “worship is the most important thing you will ever do. Period”. After reading this book, I have to agree with him. This book makes going to church exciting again!

Staring with a brief theology of worship, Cruse gives an excellent survey on the importance of worship. He argues that it is in the weekly worship service that God meets us. Also, in these meetings, we are shaped to be more like Christ. “The primary means of edification and discipleship comes through the exhortation and explanation of Scripture in the context of the rhythms of corporate worship.” In other words, corporate worship is where the Spirit is growing us in maturity.

Another important aspect of Sunday worship is this is where God renews His covenant – weekly because we are a forgetful creature. The weekly routine is not mundane; instead, it is a form of God’s grace where we come to be reminded of His unfailing covenant with His people week after week. Now that gets me excited to come to church every week!

In the second half of the book, Cruse gives us the anatomy of a worship service. Starting from the call to worship, the songs that we sing, corporate prayers, confessions, reading of the Bible, preaching, and the benediction, Cruse dedicates each of this component a well-presented chapter on what these practices mean biblically. For example, Cruse explains the significance of the call to worship. In my church, the call to worship is just the first three minutes of the service where someone welcomes the congregation, followed by reading a Bible passage to encourage us to worship, and sometimes closed with a prayer. But Cruse argues that the reason we do this is first and foremost a gospel expression – that God calls us first to join Him in His fellowship. So yeah, there is no mundane element in our worship service when we understand the significance behind it.

Whether you have a high liturgical worship service or a lower liturgical service, this is an excellent book that is more relevant now than ever. If you have a low liturgical style of worship, this book will give you a different perspective on what it means to worship God on Sunday. If you are from a high liturgical worship service, this book will explain why we do what we do on Sunday.

Overall, this is an excellent resource to recapture and reignite our hearts on the beauty and wonders of Sunday worship service. Cruse brilliantly infuses biblical insights and gospel-centeredness into a boring and mundane topic – or so we thought. Now, I really can’t wait for Sunday!


Read another of Tanwin’s reviews HERE.