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Work and Worship

Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy

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The chasm between work and worship has a devastating effect on the health, vibrancy, and effectiveness of both our labor and our liturgy.

Drawing on years of ministry, teaching, and leadership experience, Matthew Kaemingk and Cory Willson explain that our Sunday worship and our Monday work desperately need to inform and impact each other. They engage in a rich biblical, theological, and historical exploration of the deep connections between worship and work, showing Christian leaders how to help people practice the presence of God in and through their daily work.

Work and Worship will be a valuable resource for professors and students in courses on vocation, work, calling, worship, and practical theology. It will also appeal to pastors and worship leaders as well as marketplace ministry leaders who want to enact Christian practices in the workplace.


Foreword by Nicholas Wolterstorff
Part 1: Foundations
1. Worship That Forms Workers
2. Worship That Fails Workers
3. Workers in the Pews
Part 2: Resources
4. The Old Testament: The Integrity of Work and Worship
5. The Pentateuch: Bringing Work into Worship
6. The Psalms: Singing God's Work into Ours
7. The Prophets: Destroying Work and Worship
8. The Early Church: Worship and Work in Ancient Christianity
9. The Early Church Offering: Work Becomes Worship in Christ
Part 3: Practices 
10. Work at the Lord's Table
11. Worship That Gathers Workers
12. Worship That Scatters Workers
Epilogue: Rethinking Monday


"Here, finally, is the book that will take the 'faith and work' conversation to new depths of intentionality. With theological clarity and real-world accountability, Kaemingk and Willson mend what we have rent asunder. Advancing scholarship in theology of culture, it is also a must-read for those who lead worship for workers--which includes, of course, everyone. This should become a standard textbook, for the sake of the church and for the sake of the world."

James K. A. Smith, Calvin University; author of Desiring the Kingdom, You Are What You Love, and On the Road with Saint Augustine

"Kaemingk and Willson make an inspired contribution to the underdeveloped connection between work and worship in Christian life. They do not take the predictable approach of beginning with a theology of work and applying it to worship; rather, they come at it from the opposite direction, proposing that when references to labor are faithfully represented in the liturgy, it forms us for the work we ultimately present to God in all vocations. This book is well-reasoned and well-researched. It is a gift to the people of God."

Constance M. Cherry, professor of worship and pastoral ministry, Indiana Wesleyan University; author of The Worship Architect

"We are disposed to dualism, and there is no place where this problem has more meaning than in the integral relationship of worship to work. This duality tragically affects the integrity of the church in every city and every culture. Born of years of deepening commitment and maturing insight, the great gift of this groundbreaking book by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory Willson is its remarkably rich study of Scripture and history, showing that the deepest, truest witness through the centuries comes from an understanding of liturgy and labor--which is surprisingly seamless. With unusually rich biblical and theological insight, Work and Worship is a gift to the church."

Steven Garber, senior fellow for vocation and the common good, M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust; author of The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love and Learning, Worship and Work

"The bad news: work and worship have been sadly decoupled in our modern society, most notably in our church pulpits. The good news: in this beautiful and timely tome, scholars Matthew Kaemingk and Cory Willson argue quite persuasively and winsomely how work and worship were meant to be seamlessly coupled, with our work informing our worship and our worship informing our work. Kaemingk and Willson skillfully and methodically trace the rich biblical, theological, and historical foundation of this work and worship coupling across diverse people groups and cultures, ancient and modern. It is my earnest prayer that this book finally reunites and binds together--forever--these two vital segments of our lives."

Luke Bobo, director of strategic partnerships, Made to Flourish

"Our practices of Christian public worship shape us for faithful witness in every part of our lives and are shaped by the hopes, needs, and fears that we bring with us as we gather. This book offers a probing exploration of this dynamic, with particular attention to Christian discipleship in the workplace. It is ideal for any believer who longs for deeper connections between worship and daily life, and for any pastor or worship leader who shapes public worship. It is a book that promises to spark generative ideas and to prompt deeper engagement with public prayer, preaching, and other central practices of worship."

John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin University, and Calvin Theological Seminary

"This book is for bridge builders who desire to put into practice what it can mean to live a fully integrated life. There is so much truth in this book that it made my heart ache for our current reality and, at the same time, soar with hope for what could be by simply understanding that the church can provide so much more for its community of laborers. Kaemingk and Wilson approach this topic with great self-awareness and humility, offering readers many resources to bring work and worship together."

Julie Chung, connections minister, Saddleback Church

"Both honest and hopeful, Work and Worship explores the gap between Christian worship and Christians' work lives, offering a clarion call to challenge what is broken and celebrate what is promising about human labor in light of God's own work. With probing theological reflection and vivid examples drawn from worshiping communities around the world, Kaemingk and Willson's efforts are historically contextualized and faithfully grounded, making this book a practical, pastoral addition to any shelf. Work and Worship is a gift to the whole Christian community--drawing from diverse traditions for the faithful within each congregation who are aching to hear a good word about their work."

Laura Kelly Fanucci, author of To Bless Our Callings: Prayers, Poems, and Hymns to Celebrate Vocation

"In Work and Worship Kaemingk and Willson offer us a profound exploration into worship practiced in light of the daily grind. This is a reconciliatory vision for Christian leaders and laypeople who wonder how worship on Sunday and work on Monday are interconnected. The range of materials here--both biblical and historical--lay deep foundations that I want to see my students engage as they move from their classrooms to worship to the table and then out into their wider vocations."

Bruce Benedict, chaplain of worship arts, Hope College campus ministries

"Nothing is more important for the local church today than to reconnect our Sunday services with our work on Monday so our whole lives can be an act of worship. This wise, accessible, and learned book is a magnificent gift to all who seek insight--theological and practical--on how to do that well. I'll be recommending this book for years to come."

Greg Forster, director, Oikonomia Network

The Authors

  1. Matthew Kaemingk

    Matthew Kaemingk

    Matthew Kaemingk (PhD, Vrije Universiteit and Fuller Theological Seminary) is the Richard John Mouw Assistant Professor of Faith and Public Life at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he also serves as director of the Richard John Mouw Institute of Faith and...

    Continue reading about Matthew Kaemingk

  2. Cory B. Willson
    Paul Stoub

    Cory B. Willson

    Cory B. Willson (PhD, Vrije Universiteit and Fuller Theological Seminary) is Jake and Betsy Tuls Associate Professor of Missiology and Missional Ministry and directs the Institute for Global Church Planting and Renewal at Calvin Theological Seminary in...

    Continue reading about Cory B. Willson


"Work and Worship is one of the very best and most important contributions to the broader faith at work movement that has come along. It fills a critical need and brings a powerful, richly developed message about the connection of our daily work with our gathered worship as the church. . . . [The authors'] book demonstrates a profound understanding of biblical teaching and the historical practices and thinking of the people of God. Their skillful unpacking of biblical teaching is accompanied by many dozens of in-the-trenches and in-the sanctuary examples of both good and bad integration of work and worship. The truth is inspiring, the concrete examples equally so. . . . Work and Worship fulfilled its mission in outstanding fashion. The evidence of my enthusiasm is that I plan to re-read it very soon--and I plan to buy and give copies to my several pastor friends. I urge you to do the same!"

David W. Gill,

WorkPlace 313