Lovin' on Jesus

A Concise History of Contemporary Worship

By Lester Ruth, Swee Hong Lim Published
Paperback image ISBN: 9781426795138 $29.99 Buy
eBook image ISBN: 9781426795145 $29.99 Buy
The surprising, fascinating, and influential story—still unfolding—which helps us understand our own worship.

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.

Lovin’ on Jesus also tells the story of the ongoing evolution of contemporary worship both within and beyond mainline congregations.  It is important to note that the story of contemporary worship includes not only music, but also its other features.



“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

About the Authors

Lester Ruth

Lester Ruth is the Research Professor of Christian Worship at Duke Divinity School.  He was a student of James F. White - the former University of Notre Dame Professor of Theology (Liturgical Studies).

Swee Hong Lim

Swee Hong Lim is the Deer Park Assistant Professor of Sacred Music and Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program at Emmanuel College, Toronto, Canada.  He was a student of James F. White - the former University of Notre Dame Professor of Theology (Liturgical Studies).