The Way of Worship: A Guide to Living and Leading Authentic Worship

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


The Way of Worship: A Guide to Living and Leading Authentic Worship


Michael Neale and Vernon Whaley



Publication Date:

April 14, 2020




320 pages


What does a worship leader need to know? How does one worship well and help others do the same? Michael Neale and Vernon Whaley answer that question in a surprising way. They tell the story of a hiking and whitewater rafting trip that Neal took in 1997. During this trip, he learned an incredible amount about leadership, camaraderie and joy as he saw how the trip leaders related to the rafters and to their colleagues. Each chapter describes a particular event from that trip which has an important theme (such as being willing to be broken and reborn). Then Neale and Whaley explain how that particular theme applies to worship leading, breaking it into easy-to-follow principles.

Many writers would likely approach this book as a list of technical or business techniques that worship leaders should know. By talking about an experience that taught life lessons about worship leading, Neale and Whaley hit on two important points that many Western Christians have missed.

First, humans are story-lovers as well as story-tellers. Somehow, telling a story communicates things that reasoned arguments or lists of data can’t give, even when talking about the same idea. Presentation expert Nancy Duarte talks about this principle in her book Resonate, and story consultant Christopher Vogler hints at when he talks about archetypal story structures in his book The Writer’s Journey. This principle means that telling a good story with a theological theme provides something a theological treatise cannot. By starting each chapter with a story about Neale’s trip and then explaining the lessons that Neale learned from that experience, the authors capture readers’ hearts as well as their minds. In this respect, the book is similar to Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer (which gives a theological treatise and then retells it as a poem) or Matt Bohlman’s The Fall and Redemption of Shadowmere (which tells a parable and then explains the parable’s theme).

Second, playing worship songs is only part of what it means to be a worshipper. Ultimately, worship is something we do throughout our lives, in many different ways. Anything we do in a way that honors God can be seen as a worshipful activity. Thus, the first thing worship leaders need to learn is to live in a way that cultivates attitudes like humility, grace and wild-eyed amazement at the ways God shows himself to people. Neale’s rafting experience helped him understand this reality. In talking about it, Neale and Whaley ensure that worship leaders learn a foundation for living life well, not just doing their job well.

A powerful combination of good storytelling and helpful instruction.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Worship leaders, pastors or lay people seeking the character traits they need to live a life of worship.

Christian Impact

Neale and Whaley emphasize Biblical principles that worship leaders may not immediately think apply to them, but are actually vital. The result is a sobering yet inspiring book that prepares worship leaders for the long haul.

Note: This book may be sold with a student workbook or video lectures. Readers will find this book works well on its own, but may want to consider using the workbook and lectures for the best results.

The Way of Worship: A Guide to Living and Leading Authentic Worship

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