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Surprised by Worship by Travis Cottrell

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Surprised by Worship by Travis Cottrell

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

"Packed in less than 200 pages, it speaks to our attitudes, our mindset . . . as well as your heart."

As a freelance book reviewer, my need-to-read pile of books grows daily. My first thought after receiving this book was, “What can be said about worship that we Americanized-Christians really need to hear again?” Even if we are not paid as worship leaders in our churches, we certainly know how to raise our voices and make a joyful noise.”

Following a foreword that somehow evolved into a mini-sermon by Beth Moore, Travis shares biblical and modern-day stories of people who, while experiencing life’s struggles, are also open to spontaneous acts of worship. And not just corporately with body of believers!

Surprised by Worship is his journey in discovering anew the presence of God when he least expected it. The surprises you can’t plan or schedule in a worship service or in life. Packed in less than 200 pages, it speaks to our attitudes, our mindset . . . as well as your heart. Using highly personal illustrations and transparent moments, it is more like a one-on-one conversation than a lecture on the seven steps of worshipping well.

By bringing us the hope, strength, even deliverance when we are distracted or heavy-laden, worship can be our sweetest resource to consistently living the life of a Christ-follower. As my pastor would say, “Holy moments when the ordinary becomes holy simply because of the presence of the Almighty.” In every circumstance, God's voice can be heard, especially in those moments when we never expect it.
Here are a few hard-hitting, convicting quotes that resonated with me:

"I have a feeling that if we dropped our defenses before God’s throne, our offenses would go away.”

“When truth emerges in unfamiliar or unattractive packages, we are prone to become offended and close off to what God might be doing.”

“ . . . not trust that He will make my life easy and pain-free, but trust that whatever comes my way, I can rely on Him to hold me safe. To pick me up. To keep me in His care.”

Do you choose not to clap your hands much in worship, like me? Do you neglect the moving of the Spirit because you don’t like standing up all the time or repeating the words over and over again or because it’s a newer song you don’t like? Pick up a copy of Surprised by Worship today and begin to experience worship with a fresh set of eyes and an even softer heart!


Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.