Lovin’ on Jesus: A Concise History of Contemporary Worship is a
compact—but thorough—history of changes in North American Protestant
worship that occurred in the second half of the twentieth century and
that came to be known as “contemporary worship.” This scholarly but
accessible work reveals a fascinating and complex lineage, which led to
the worship forms that are now so common in many Christian worship
services across the globe.
Authors Lim and Ruth uncover the rise of this term itself in the early 1990s as the pivot point in the phenomenon’s history. They show how “contemporary worship” has multiple points of origin, and how new ways of worship developed along many different lines. The authors trace the rise of the term in the early 1990s, pointing to a new phase in its history: promotion and adoption by mainline congregations. The book documents this phase, as well as the earlier phases, with original source material including personal interviews.
“Swee Hong Lim and Lester Ruth have skillfully researched the roots of contemporary corporate worship: past and present. Lovin’ on Jesus is an important book for every pastor, worship leader, and worshipper. A big reason for worship methodology getting out of control and becoming the focus of one’s worship is ignorance. This wonderfully prepared study will help you keep your worship experience biblically centered, dynamic, and growing.”
—Rick Muchow, Founding Worship Pastor, Saddleback Church; worship leader and coach
“Whether you love, loathe, or ignore contemporary worship, readers will find Lim and Ruth’s one-of-a-kind history convincing and rigorous; the authors show how a modern genre of Christian worship claimed its place with structural, musical, sacramental, poetic, ecumenical, multiracial, transnational, and technological ingenuity and why it matters now to consider what it all means and where it is heading.”
—Gerald Liu, Assistant Professor of Worship and Preaching, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ
“In their history of ‘contemporary worship,’ Swee Hong Lim and Lester Ruth have hit the sweet spot between the academic study of liturgy and a practical guide to understanding and even implementing this form of worship. Particularly useful for teaching is the way Lim and Ruth organize their account by practices of time, space, music, prayer, technology, and scripture. The penultimate chapter on ‘The Sacramentality of Contemporary Worship’ offers a compelling explanation of why many congregations have found this mode of worship so compelling, while others see it as superficial. This will immediately become a required textbook for the courses I teach on Christian worship.”
—Ed Phillips, Associate Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology and Coordinator of the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology, Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA
“Contemporary worship means many things to many people. Some wholeheartedly embrace it; others reject it outright, and over the years, these competing emotional responses have made it nearly impossible to discuss the topic objectively. That is, until now. With a historian’s eye for detail and a musician’s ear for tone, Swee Hong Lim and Lester Ruth have written a book that fills one of the most significant gaps in worship scholarship today. Meticulously researched, accessibly written, generous in its praise, and balanced in its critiques—this is the book for which many of us have long been waiting.”
—Melanie C. Ross, Assistant Professor of Liturgical Studies, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT