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What Happens When We Worship (Cruse)

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Many churchgoers assume that worship is inherently boring, something we need to make exciting. But as Jonathan Landry Cruse shows, churchgoing only seems monotonous and mundane because our eyes are blinded to the supernatural wonder that is taking place all around us.

In this book, Cruse helps us perceive the significance of worship and guides us through the spiritual actions of a worship service. Once you recognize how God is doing something to us and for us and through us in each element of the service, Lord’s Day worship will become the highlight of your week!

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Table of Contents:

Foreword by Michael S. Horton

Part 1: Introduction

1. What Happens When We Worship?

Part 2: A Brief Theology of Worship

2. The Most Important Thing We Will Ever Do

3. We Are Being Shaped

4. We Meet with God

5. God Renews His Covenant

6. We Submit to God’s Agenda

7. We Commune with the Saints

Part 3: The Parts of the Service

8. God Calls Us

9. The Verdict Is Pronounced

10. Jesus Gets Up to Preach

11. God Feasts with Us

12. We Get a New Name

13. We Sing a New Song

 Part 4: Conclusion

14. Extraordinarily ordinary Worship

15. Preparing for Worship



Jonathan Landry Cruse (MDiv, Westminster Seminary California) is pastor of Community Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he lives with his wife and son. 



“What happens in worship? God is at work, and the best thing we can do is receive it. I’ve known Jonathan Cruse for many years now and have enormous respect for his gifts not only in theology but in music. This book will broaden and deepen your vision while narrowing it on ‘the Author and Finisher of our faith.’ Please read, mark, and inwardly digest the teaching in this important book.” — Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“This excellent book is a fresh, engaging, and thoughtful call to worship. It opens up the importance, vitality, and character of worship in a very helpful way.” — W. Robert Godfrey, chairman, Ligonier Ministries

“Protestant worship can appear to be boring. The remedy for some is to add beauty and grandeur, and for others, excitement. The Reformers understood that biblical worship needed spice but that such pizzazz came not from externals or style but from Scripture, faith, and a right understanding of what transpires when God’s people meet in His name on the Lord’s Day. Jonathan Cruse uses the teaching of Scripture and the wisdom of Reformed theologians to remind Protestants how extraordinary their simple worship is.” — D. G. Hart, associate professor of history, Hillsdale College

“As responsibility for the faithful transmission of Reformed ministry and worship passes from one generation to the next, Jonathan Cruse has shown himself willing and able to take up the mantle. He presents the old strengths of God-centered, gospel-structured, Spirit-dependent, word-filled, and Bible-regulated worship with a fresh voice, conveying to this generation the genius of worship that is Reformed ‘according to Scripture.’ ” — Terry L. Johnson, senior minister, Independent Presbyterian Church, Savannah, Georgia

“I am amazed at how much solid material Jonathan Cruse has managed to pack into these few pages of What Happens When We Worship! Each aspect I think of on this vital subject is addressed succinctly and with biblical fidelity. I love the questions for further discussion. They turn you from a mere intellectual student into a fellow participant in a quest for authentic, God-glorifying worship. Read this book, and you will increasingly put mind, heart, and soul into your worship with renewed enthusiasm.” — Conrad Mbewe, pastor, Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia

“Jonathan Cruse gives us a fresh work that can help unite several generations in a recovery of regularly anticipating heaven on earth. This work is accessible to all—biblically informed, practically oriented, and well presented. I am happy to commend it and especially recommend the final sections on worship, rightly offered. We can only hope that the coming generation will heed this new and young voice—rooted in much more than his own limited experience.” — David W. Hall, senior pastor, Midway Presbyterian Church, Powder Springs, Georgia

“When we come together to worship, we do so as members of Christ’s mystical body, drawing near to the Father in the Son by the Spirit, knowing that the triune God draws near to us and draws us up into the heavenlies where we worship Him in spirit and truth. This sentence describes the most astounding reality possible, one that lies beyond our imagining, eclipsing every earthly glory and imbuing worshipers with the glory of the world to come, a reality that is joy unspeakable. Jonathan Landry Cruse seeks to impart something of that inexpressible glory in this well-written and well-argued gem that helps us to understand the true experience of worship, an experience transcending all lesser views of worship, whether those stressing entertainment or an over-stuffed liturgy or anything that falls short of the glory of biblical new covenant worship. Read this to understand better this dynamic that occurs in Reformed worship or to introduce someone who longs for such but has never known it. Cruse, an accomplished musician and OPC pastor, beautifully lays out the heart of such worship before us. Let all come and partake freely of these divine waters that quench the inner thirst and never run dry.” — Alan D. Strange, professor of church history, Mid-America Reformed Seminary

“Jonathan Cruse’s must-read, page-turning book on worship is masterful both in explaining what is really going on when we worship our holy and gracious triune God corporately as well as why and how we ought to engage with each part of a biblically grounded and biblically marinated worship service. One doesn’t need to wholeheartedly amen every detail this innovative book offers to have a profound appreciation for the way the author biblically and practically shows the place of priority that public worship ought to have in the life of every Christian. I wondered as I read this convicting and yet exhilarating book: If true believers embrace this high and moving view of worship, would the church soon see much greater days of repentance, reformation, and revival? May God forgive us for our paltry and backsliding view of worship and fill us with Himself and His glory and beauty (Ps. 27:4) as we strive to worship Him in Spirit and truth.” — Joel R. Beeke president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; and pastor, Heritage Reformed Congregation, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Jonathan Cruse has written a helpful, popular-level guide to corporate worship, which can only serve to enrich the worship of the Christian believer each Lord’s Day and, in turn, the church as a whole. This is a book every minister should encourage every member to read. It will help us all to worship through new eyes, appreciating more deeply why we do what we do when we gather together as Christ’s church.” — Jonny Gibson, associate professor of Old Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia