Worship and Mission after Christendom

by Alan Kreider and Eleanor Kreider

Herald Press, 616 Walnut Ave, Scottdale, PA 15683, 276 pages, 2011, $19.99.

Reviewed by Roberta R. King, associate professor of communication and ethnomusicology and director of the Global Christian Worship program, Fuller Theological Seminary.

The saying “Mission exists because worship does not” (Piper 1993) served as a rallying cry for articulating the link between worship and mission in the late twentieth century. Yet, as pithy, stimulating, and influential as the saying has been, John Piper did not fully explore the multiple facets implied in such links.

In Worship and Mission after Christendom, Alan and Eleanor Kreider step out and explore the important elements critical to bringing the two fields together. They provide keen theological, historical, and missiological insights focused on the post-Christendom, Western world of the early twenty-first century. The authors begin by arguing for mission as a worldwide phenomenon, where geographical borders are no longer a limiting feature of mission. With some twenty years of mission service (mostly in England, but including Switzerland and Australia), the Kreiders bring broad ecumenical experience and abundant resources to their fine literary research and writing.   

Readers will better understand the biblical basics of worship and historical aspects of mission, including the good, the bad, and the ugly of classical mission under Christendom. Followed by a deeply revealing discussion of the missio Dei, the Kreiders offer new understandings to the term, especially as it relates to missional Western settings. For example, they identify the recovery of narrative in post-Christendom worship and highlight biblical precedents and theological aspects of the forgotten significance of storytelling in the West: an approach long significant also for ministry in broader cross-cultural contexts.

Other key topics include the importance of the Eucharist, a call to hospitality, cultural variability in worship styles, inculturating worship and witness in the post-Christendom West, and worship forms as historically practiced in Christian liturgy.   

While many books on post-Christendom focus only on their own context, the Kreiders do not hesitate to challenge the post-Christendom Church in the West to break from any insular navel gazing. They effectively argue for the Church’s participation in the mission Dei with all believers—despite their location—who worship God and serve him in mission. They do so by addressing the globalizing elements of migrating peoples and rich partnerships in mission between churches worldwide. Thus, Worship and Mission after Christendom makes a significant contribution not only to the Church in the West, but also to the Church universal. I’m pleased to have a new resource for my classes.

Check these titles:
Farhadian, Charles E., ed. 2007. Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons, Deepening Practices.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

King, Roberta R., Jean Ngoya Kidula, James Krabill, and Thomas Oduro. 2008. Music in the Life of the African Church. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press.

Piper, John. 1993. Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.    


EMQ, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 8-9. Copyright  © 2011 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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