28
Feb
2017
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Book Review: New Testament Priests, Speak Up! Encouraging Broader Participation In The Lord’s Supper by Mike Stephenson, by Bob Upton

Understanding what worship is can be a challenge for a new believer. Even harder might be actually going ahead and sharing in a worship meeting. Truthfully, many find it very intimidating to start participating audibly in the Lord’s Supper. “I could never see myself standing up and talking.” “What should I say?” “What will others think of me?” “How do I know what worship really is and what’s considered appropriate?”

A verse that I’ve found very helpful in understanding what worship is comes from the story of Joseph. When he finally revealed himself to his brothers after many years in Egypt, he told them with excitement, “Tell my father of all my glory . . .” (Genesis 45:13). That’s what worship is . . . telling the Father of all the glories of His Son, the Lord Jesus.

New Testament Priests, Speak Up! is an easy-to-read book that can help any man in the assembly learn to do just that. As the subtitle indicates, its primary purpose is to encourage broader participation in the Lord’s Supper as opposed to the same few brothers sharing every week.

Among the standard books on the breaking of bread for the assemblies have been two written by A.P. Gibbs, Worship; the Christian’s Highest Occupation and The Lord’s Supper. Many young believers have been directed to these books as a way to help them understand the purpose of the Lord’s Supper meeting. For over 50 years they have served us well, yet there is a need today for a fresh reminder to new generations of the centrality of the Lord’s Supper.

New Testament Priests, Speak Up! is grounded in what most assemblies would believe about the Lord’s Supper. This is accomplished in large part by reference to a number of key Bible passages along with a variety of helpful quotes from classic books on worship, books that a young person would  likely not have. The author then adds practical guidance and advice for the reader.

Unless you understand what the Lord’s Supper is, you may never be moved to participate in it. This book speaks in conversational language that will teach you what the Lord’s Supper is, why it is so important in the life of the assembly and how every man can easily take an active part in it. Furthermore, as I’ve already mentioned, public speaking can be very frightening to many. Thus, a major goal of this book is to offer very doable suggestions for how to get over that hurdle.

The book opens by telling the story of the author’s approach to helping some men in his own assembly understand and begin participating in the remembrance meeting. He guides you through those lessons and training sessions that they did together and focuses on how they put into practice what they had been learning. Even if you don’t follow exactly how he did this in his assembly, it will give you assembly leaders ideas on how to assist others to learn about this vital meeting and gain confidence to share a hymn, a prayer, or a passage of Scripture in the meeting.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about his book is that Mike anticipates the questions that often come up: Why is there silence sometimes and is that good? Why do people speak of a theme to the meeting? What does the leading of the Holy Spirit mean? These are the types of questions that young people or those new to an assembly fellowship often have. Thus, it’s refreshing and beneficial to have someone provide an easy-to-follow explanation of why we do what we do. Frankly, this is a book I wish I had had when I was younger.

Who is this book for? Really, it’s for anyone who would like a simple, biblical overview of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, why we should want to participate vocally in it and how to go about that. Even for those who are quite familiar with the assembly perspective on the Lord’s Supper, it can be very useful as an oft needed reminder of those principles of worship as well as a source of ideas on how to encourage others to actively and regularly join in. Just saying “we’d like to hear from you” usually won’t be enough. People need practical help.

This is an easy and very readable book to give to those in your assembly. We have given it to all of the men in our fellowship. It can be read in just a few sittings. You could also use this as a study guide for an informal class on the Lord’s Supper. I warmly recommend this book.

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