This is a great book that encourages Baptists to more intentionally think about worship. Something that we probably don't pay as much attention as we should. Freedom in worship can translate into sloppy, shallow ill-conceived worship. Gathering Together can be seen in the light, and further development, of work that has been done in the UK, especially by Chris Ellis. In fact the title Gathering Together has resonances with Chris Ellis' own book on the theology and practice of worship, Gathering and the service book he edited with Myra Blyth, Gathering for Worship.
The book has chapters on the different ingredients of worship - prayer, preaching, the Eucharist, the creed, baptism, and music, as well as chapters on the using the Christian year, liturgy has a means of community worship, rather than individual worship. The book also includes sample liturgies for worship and particular occasional services. Contributors include both academic theologians and local pastors, reflecting the book's desire to both encourage theological reflection on worship as well as how this might look in practice. Contributors include a number of younger American Baptist theologians, like Derek Hatch, Scott Bullard and Cameron Jorgenson, who are following in the steps of James McClendon, Steven Harmon, Barry Harvey, Curtis Freeman, Beth Newman and Philip Thompson (both Newman and Thompson have chapters in this book). (Harmon has blogged a helpful series summarising this new generation of Baptists doctoral work).
The book is very American in terms of context, so not all claims about Baptist worship would be true of worship in a UK, European or other part of the world. The chapters on the use of the liturgical year and on liturgy as a means of communal worship are definite highlights and offer something important ways that our worship can be shaped by the gospel story and be multi-voiced.
There is much to learn in this book for any Baptist minister on what makes worship that is faithful and formative and Baptist!