Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Author's Corner: PresbyBlogger Robert Austell

Today we are beginning what hopefully will become a regular feature of Thursday Read and Learn at Presbyterian Bloggers--The Author's Corner. Thanks to blogring member Robert Austell for agreeing to write about his new book, Biblical Worship Through Music. Suggestions for future Author's Corner posts are welcome and encouraged! Please leave them in the comments.

AUTHOR'S CORNER--Biblical Worship Through Music by Robert M. Austell, Jr.

The writing of this book was fueled by interest, faith, and passion. The Bible was the starting point for this study because I believe it is our authority and inspiration for worship. Scripture presents worship as the central responsibility and privilege of being a human created in God’s image. Therefore, I have an interest in defining and practicing “biblical worship.”

As a pastor and preacher, I am called to proclaim the Word of God faithfully in the context of biblical worship, and am interested in defining and practicing “faithful proclamation” of the Word. As a musician and worship leader, I am called to use my gifts to bless and lead God’s people in worship through music. I believe there is confusion and lack of clarity over the purpose and role of music in worship, and I seek to define and practice “faithful use of music” in worship.

Lest these seem like three independent but unrelated topics, I have found that God has gifted and called me to be a pastor, preacher, musician, and worship leader who loves, obeys, and follows His Word in Scripture. With what I think is a rather unique perspective on the spoken and sung Word in the context of biblical worship, I believe I can contribute clarity and faithful reflection on a subject that divides many churches and Christians.

In addition to the interest described above, I recognize that within the sphere of preacher and musician I also have unique perspectives. As a pastor and preacher, I fall right on the generation line between what has been described as “modern” and “post-modern.” I believe that I appreciate and can communicate the Word with older generations, yet also share the values and outlook of the post-modern or emergent culture around us.

I live and work in a special in-between time of needing to preach with language both cultures can understand. In the area of music, I am classically trained in music and composition, but also play by ear and understand and appreciate improvisation and related techniques. I believe that part of my unique voice in the area of music and worship comes from legitimately speaking as a member of a number of special interest groups, while seeking a greater and overarching perspective of biblical worship. Accordingly, in the book I begin with what the Bible says about worship, navigate through a number of issues and approaches, and return to what the Bible says about worship with applications and resources for the Church.

This project is also driven by hope. I hope this project and related teaching and implementation will be a helpful resource in the life of the greater church as I have opportunity to lead worship and teach in conferences around the country. I hope God will use this research to aid the Church in worshiping more faithfully. I also hope God will bless the implementation of my work in my own church context so that by being a faithful worshiping community we will serve as a “teaching church” in the area of music and worship for other churches.

The major sections of the book are as follows:

Part I-II: examination of foundational texts for establishing biblical principles and applications for worship

Part III: study of Luther and Calvin and their reaction to and reformation of the Roman Catholic Church of their day

Part IV: review, categorization, and synthesis of recent literature on the subject of contemporary worship music. Marva Dawn, John Frame, and Robert Webber are identified as significant heirs to Luther, Calvin, and the Catholic Church, and as influential writer-theologians representing key perspectives on worship music today.

Part V: collation and evaluation of data on size, age, staffing, training, worship style, and planning from PCUSA churches in the Charlotte, N.C. area to identify and evaluate applied local Presbyterian philosophy, planning, and practice of worship. This section is featured on the home page of the Presbytery of Charlotte and can be viewed as a PDF HERE.

Part VI: summary, synthesis, and final reflections.

Part VII: Appendix full of resources for using music to worship God in a biblically faithful way, including the following…
Biblical Worship Study Series (Seven Lessons)
Seminars on Biblical Worship (Outlines and Content)
Worship Planning Sheets
Other Music for Worship (link to mp3s of Austell compositions)

Here's the link to purchase book on

Robert Austell is pastor of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, and blogs at Lighthouse/Searchlight Church. He has taught this material in seminars at Montreat Wee Kirk, presbytery training events, and in local churches struggling with issues of music and worship. He is a frequent musical worship leader for Wee Kirk and other regional conferences. He currently serves (2009) as the Moderator of the Presbytery of Charlotte.


Elaine said...

The link given to purchase the book, doesn't work. However, if you type the visible url into your browser window -- that does work.

Norman, Oklahoma

Quotidian Grace said...

I've corrected the link so that it works now.

Sorry for the error.