I recently finished reading the second edition of Tim Milner’s book For the Renown of His Name. Here are a few notes about the book. The book has three main sections, which I will title Songs, Philosophy of Worship, and Applied Worship.
Songs. Tim discusses the songs on his last two albums (Form and Essence and Kiss the Son). I really enjoy hearing the stories of how and why a song came to be, so I appreciated this section.
Tim’s thoughts on “Bring Your Praise,” which focus on intentionality in worship, are particularly convicting. While worship is something that should take place every day, there is a degree of intentionality that should be present for collective gatherings. It is important to go to church on Sunday morning as a participant, not a spectator.
Philosophy of Worship. What it means to worship God has been defined many times and in many ways. Tim does not rewrite the definition of worship in this section, instead he gives scriptural basis for what worship (and he often uses the term “worship-devotion”) should look like. He talks about recognition of God, recognition of who we are, and recognition of God’s desire. He lists many attributes of God, and discusses how focusing on these attributes will enable us to worship.
Tim entitled the fifth chapter of the book: What do We Mean by “The Presence of God” in Worship? He discusses the concept of God being present in collective worship gatherings. God is omnipresent, so the only factor that changes in a collective gathering is us. Sometimes we are aware and receptive, sometimes we are not. When we pray or sing for God to come to us or meet with us (or for the Holy Spirit to come), it is an exercise in welcoming and receiving what is already there.
Applied Worship. In this section Tim talks about leading worship. He addresses the fact that most people will not arrive at church on a Sunday morning prepared to engage in worship. Some will be self-focused. Some will be distracted by the people around them. Some will be engrossed in worries or concerns. Some will be looking forward to the future (i.e. leaving the service). The job of a worship leader is to focus everyone on God.
Distractions during a worship service often compete for the attention of the congregation. Tim encourages planning, clear communication between sound operators and musicians, proofreading lyric slides carefully, tuning instruments, and being aware of stage presence. The goal is to remove unnecessary distractions.
One of my favorite lines from the book is: “Worship is never about manipulation.” The goal of a worship leader is to create a setting in which the congregation is able to worship God. This might mean directing the people to some extent, but that direction should be through proclaiming truth, not simply appealing to emotions. Excitement without understanding is meaningless.
Conclusion: Tim has many worthwhile things to say, and I recommend the book. Parts of it are targeted toward worship leaders, but it would be beneficial to anyone (regardless of musical involvement). His website has information on his music and his writing.