Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel

This book by Mike Cosper is challenging me to the core.  As a worshiper and a worship pastor, this read is essential.

Some great quotes from the book:

  • “Celebrity pastors and worship leaders are everywhere, leading services that seem more about spectacle than substance” (17).
  • “The boiling, fiery, deadly presence of God is the natural reaction of holiness in the presence of sin” (57).
  • “Simply put, Worship One, Two, Three is this: worship has: one object and author, two contexts, three audiences” (75).
  • “Participating in God’s glory-sharing life, then, happens in two contexts: scattered and gathered.  Worship scattered is the Spirit-filled life of the Christian in the world, and worship gathered is the meeting of God’s people to remember, encourage, and bless one another” (76).
  • “In this sense, the gathering is unique not as an encounter with God (it is that, though God’s presence is a constantly available comfort and help to the Christian); rather it’s unique because it is an encounter with the people of God, filled with the Spirit of God, spurring one another along in the mission of God.  Christ in me meets Christ in you” (80-81).
  • “…asks whether we think of gathered worship as being more like a concert hall or a banquet hall.  If it’s a concert hall, we show up as passive observers and critics, eager to have the itches of our preferences and felt needs scratched.  A banquet hall, by contrast, is a communal gathering.  We come hungry and in community, ready to participate and share the experience with one another” (99).
  • “Worship wars were often style wars, pitting generations against one another not because of philosophy or theology, but because of culture” (112).
  • “For pastors and leaders, this reality should make us shudder; our decisions about the practices and rhythms in our church gatherings are forming the character, beliefs, and devotional life of those who attend” (120).
  • “The gathering shapes our ordinary life, and ordinary life shapes our experience of the gathering” (150).


Designed to help Christians think more theologically about the nature of true biblical worship, this book shows how the gospel is all about worship and worship is all about the gospel. Cosper ultimately answers the question: What is worship?


Mike Cosper is one of the founding pastors of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as the pastor of worship and arts. He is also founder of Sojourn Music and contributes regularly to the Gospel Coalition blog.