I lied yesterday. I said you could expect this book review later this week, when in fact, I couldn’t stop reading. I never finish a book in a single day. If anything, the book ended suddenly; I kept looking for a postscript or afterword or epilogue.
Make Love, Make War: Now is the Time to Worship (David C. Cook, 2009) is a wonderfully crafted outpouring from the heart of Canadian singer-songwriter Brian Doerksen, who has authored or co-authored — he seems to do much of his writing in tandem with others — some of our best known worship songs such as:
- Refiner’s Fire
- Your Love is Amazing
- Today (As for Me and My House)
- It’s Time for the Reign of God
- Faithful One
- Creation Calls
- Light The Fire Again
- You Shine
- and 84 other CCLI-listed songs
Some of these songs, and some I didn’t know, become the chapter titles for this book and are used as a springboard for discussion about what it means to live a life of worship to God, and also the worship songwriting process itself. On many chapters, I found the songs playing as on a loop in my head, providing a background soundtrack to reading the book. (Maybe someday that technology will exist as you begin a new chapter, the appropriate song will play…)
Furthermore, although I’ve missed hearing Brian live, getting to know his voice and spoken mannerisms from the Today live worship DVD resulted in almost hearing him speak the words right off the page. I questioned getting the DVD, since I already had the CD, but it has proved to be one of my all time favorite visual worship experiences. The book Make Love, Make War is the next natural progression, deeper into the heart of Brian’s love for his heavenly father, though if you currently own neither, don’t let that dissuade you from the book..
The book is part worship textbook, part autobiographical. It is in places humorous and at other places deeply serious. It is partly intended for worship music personnel at local churches — especially with its technical and practical tips for musicians at the end of each chapter — and also intended for the average person who seeks after God.
In many of our churches, the worship component involves half or more of the total time spent “at church.” Towards the end, Doerksen suggests:
“…we send people away to Bible school and seminary for years to learn the Scriptures and how to preach. And upon their return they preach sermons, which people often promptly forget. But there are very few theological schools designed to help modern artists and worship songwriters learn the Scriptures and biblical theology; we just tell them to write a song we can sing in church. Maybe it’s the songwriters who should study the most — because the lyrics of the songs are what really stick with us.”
In an excellent analogy — again towards the end of the book — he compares worship leaders to the Best Man at a wedding, leading the introduction of Bride (the church) and Groom (the Father), and then quickly getting out of the way.
Elsewhere he despairs over pastors who encourage worship leaders to include something “lively” or “up tempo,” when the heart of the Psalms is often woeful lament. His admiration for principal Psalmist King David — he just calls him Dave — is repeated throughout the book. He admits that sometimes, following after his role model, his song themes and lyrical choices have been met with criticism. This does not deter him; he feels he is living out the particular worship role for which God has chosen him.
Lord willing, Brian Doerksen will keep giving the church new musical worship material; but I also hope this isn’t the last time we see his name on a book. He has much to teach us about our relationship with the Father.