Essential Worship: A Handbook for Leaders

Essential Worship is a concise, easy-to-read primer on the basics of worship theology and practice.

Baker Publishing, 2016
Worship Planning and Leading

Worship leaders are adrift in a sea of worship resources, but, incredibly, no single book provides a simple introduction to worship and worship leading. Essential Worship is a concise, easy-to-read primer on the basics of worship theology and practice. Each concept is introduced clearly and concisely. Diagrams, charts, and bulleted lists make the information easy to digest. And preparation and reflection questions help readers apply the material to their own church context.

Whether one is a beginner or an experienced worship leader, readers from all traditions will find in this resource a solid foundation for future success. It is particularly well-suited for the first-time worship or praise band leader, as well as for pastors who want to be more intentional about the music in their services.


"Greg Scheer offers personal and fresh perspective on the inter-workings of corporate worship with his unique blend of levity and insight. This book is a good springboard for conversation and growth for both worship leaders and congregations."
Sandra McCracken, singer and songwriter

"This is the book we've been waiting for! It is a comprehensive introduction to the theology and practice of worship, combining historical and biblical perspectives with a practitioner's pastoral experience. It has been carefully curated from a wide range of sources, reflecting the multiplicity of Greg's own ecclesial influences. And to top it off, it is crafted in accessible prose with questions for reflection designed for worship directors and their teams. It is an essential resource for anyone looking to grow in their understanding of corporate worship."
Glenn Packiam, pastor, New Life Downtown; author, Mystery of Faith

"Greg Scheer is a theologically and pastorally sensitive reflective practitioner--an ideal teacher for a new generation of worship leaders. His own capacity to play both the guitar and string bass, to write music for both praise bands and string quartets, and to address both Pentecostal and liturgical leaders makes this an ideal book to stimulate learning across generations and cultures. This is also an ideal book for group study in which pastors, musicians, artists, and worshipers of all kinds can learn together about how to deepen their faith, not only in gathered worship but also in all of life."
John Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

"I usually find introductions to worship and worship leading disappointing because they are either theologically, historically, liturgically, or practically weak. There is always some gap. For the first time, I've found something that briefly yet thoroughly covers it all!"
Zac Hicks, Canon for Worship and Liturgy, Cathedral Church of the Advent; author, The Worship Pastor

"Practical and accessible wisdom is what Greg Scheer gives us in Essential Worship. This book is light enough on its feet, while weighty enough in its content, to offer insights across a variety of churches and worship styles."
Lester Ruth, research professor of Christian worship, Duke Divinity School

"What is your definition of worship? Whatever it is, you will have a richer appreciation of worship after studying and applying this book. Greg Scheer offers a book that is personal in its witness yet public in its purpose, accessible in style yet deep in application, scriptural at its core yet drawing upon church practice, global in breadth yet local in use, orderly in presentation yet open to the Spirit, and Reformed at its roots yet ecumenical in perspective. In short, it is what worship leaders need in a time when the word worship is often spoken but rarely understood."
C. Michael Hawn, University Distinguished Professor of Church Music and director of the Sacred Music Program, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

"Greg Scheer has presented the church with a fine gift. Articulate and deeply knowledgeable, Scheer writes as though having a personal conversation with the reader. He moves from principles to practice, acknowledging the work of many theologians but always writing in his own voice and illuminating the discussion through his own experiences. I'm especially grateful for his stress on the importance of the role of congregational music and for his emphasis on the arts in worship. While his language and presentation are easily accessible for lay leaders, Scheer's exposition addresses profound matters that would make for lively classroom engagement of theological students. Certainly, for anyone who is engaged in planning or leading Christian worship, Essential Worship belongs within easy reach on the bookshelf."
Deborah Carlton Loftis, executive director, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada

"It's quite difficult to find a book of worship that is theologically careful, biblically intelligent, historically minded, liturgically inclusive, contextually nuanced, and practically helpful. But that's precisely what we have here: the essentials done well. Scheer is keenly aware of the complexity of this field of study and practice but he's not undone by that complexity, because a clear head, a simple argument, an economical prose, and a generous spirit mark this exceptional book."
W. David O. Taylor, professor, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Greg Scheer's Essential Worship stands out in the rapidly growing list of books and pamphlets offering advice to worship leaders. The advice he offers is both eminently practical and wise, richly grounded not only in his own personal experience as worship leader but also in Scripture and in the history and theology of Christian worship. It is unusually balanced and judicious. Rather than joining the crusade for nothing but traditional forms of worship or for nothing but contemporary forms of worship, Scheer urges us to honor and learn from the past while being open to trying new forms. Rather than joining the crusade for nothing but traditional hymns or for nothing but new songs, Scheer urges us to continue to sing the best of the traditional hymns while being open to adding new songs. It's a masterly blend of practicality with broad learning and judicious balance."
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University; senior research fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

"In Essential Worship Scheer combines his successful knowledge, skills, and experiences as a minister of worship, musician, and scholar to provide refreshingly insightful and practical guidance on worship. This riveting, instructive, and inspiring book demonstrates the author's understanding of vital worship that is essential to the bloodline of today's congregations. It is relevant, theologically astute, and generously accessible to the reader, and a must for those who lead worship!"
James Abbington, associate professor of Church Music and Worship, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

"From Pentecostal to Reformed and the many realms in between, Greg Scheer takes us on a journey to the corners of the worship world. Global songs. Psalms. Heart music. All are part of his worship and music cosmos and we are richer for being invited to share, step-by-step, in the ways they enact their transformative power."
Eileen Guenther, president emeritus, American Guild of Organists; professor of church music, Wesley Theological Seminary

"In this indispensable new book, Greg has done an amazing job of articulating a clear and succinct theology of worship for worship leaders of all kinds. I highly recommend this book to those looking to explore more deeply what it means to lead the church in worship, whether they be seasoned church musicians or just beginning in the field."
Isaac Wardell, director of Bifrost Arts

"In a sea of books, blogs, and resources for understanding 'worship,' this is a needed anchoring perspective. Greg does a wonderful job of introducing us to the essentials of worship through the framework of Scripture, theology, and practice. Highlights for me were the chapters on song repertoire and explorations of the people of worship."
Bruce Benedict, chaplain of worship, Hope College

"Essential Worship is a gem. Greg Scheer writes with great depth and sparkle. He is a joy to read."
Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., senior research fellow, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; president emeritus, Calvin Theological Seminary

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