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Koessler in Christianity Today


Dr. John Koessler’s article, The Trajectory of Worship: What's really happening when we praise God in song?, was the cover story for the March 2011 edition of Christianity Today. Dr. Koessler is professor and chair of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute and author of the forthcoming Folly, Grace, and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching (Zondervan).

“Like most churchgoers, I tend to view worship as something that moves from earth to heaven. We think of worship as something that originates with us, our gift to God. Perhaps this is why so many of us are conflicted about it,” writes Dr. Koessler. “The biblical portrait of worship moves in the opposite direction. The trajectory of heavenly worship begins with God and descends to earth.”

Raised on jazz and classical music, Dr. Koessler recounted his own history of worship, from his first time singing with a hymnal to worshiping at a Pentecostal church and disliking the musical tastes of his children. He related this journey to his study of worship and the posture Christians are instructed by the Bible to take toward it.

He provides three suggestions for viewing worship. First, he writes, we do not have to please everyone in our worship. Secondly, the quality of worship is not directly related to the quality of music. And finally, Dr. Koessler concludes that it is not varying tastes in music that are detrimental to the Church, but a lack of respect between Christian brothers and sisters on the topic.

“Worship is not a private practice. It is the chief work of heaven and the duty of every creature,” writes Dr. Koessler. “A day will come when our conflict and mutual discomfort over the church's worship will end. Until then we must muddle through the best we can by reminding ourselves that we are part of a much larger congregation—one populated by patriarchs and prophets, saints and angels, where we are invited to join a chorus that began on the first day of creation.”

For more information about Dr. Koessler, please visit


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