DEVELOPING A WORSHIP LEADING PRACTICUM
FOR MASTER OF ARTS IN WORSHIP LEADERSHIP STUDENTS
AT AZUSA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
A THESIS PROPOSAL PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY
OF THE ROBERT E. WEBBER INSTITUTE FOR WORSHIP STUDIES
FLORIDA CAMPUS, ORANGE PARK, FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF WORSHIP STUDIES
Copyright © 2007 by Leland James Altizer
All rights reserved
DEVELOPING A WORSHIP LEADING PRACTICUM FOR MASTER OF ARTS IN WORSHIP LEADERSHIP STUDENTS AT
AZUSA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
LELAND JAMES ALTIZER
_______________________________________________ (President or Provost)
GLOSSARY OF SELECTED TERMS ………………………………………………………………..viii
1. INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM ……………………………………………………..1
Introduction and Statement of the Problem
Purpose, Design and Evaluation of This Project
Limitations and Definitions of This Study
Biblical and Theological Legitimacy
2. THE DESIGN AND DELIVERY OF CORPORATE WORSHP …………………..13
Introduction to Worship: the Hebrews
The Essentials of Christian Worship
The Design of Corporate Worship
The Leading of Corporate Worship
3. METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY ………………………………………………………..69
Methods Used to Teach the Objectives
Research Design, Implementation, and Data Collection
Population of the Study
Analysis of Data
4. FINDINGS ……………………………………………………………………………………………..76
Presentation of Data
Summary of Data
5. SUMMARY …………………………………………………………………………………………….82
Summary of the Project
1. CLASS SCHEDULE ………………………………………………………………………………………87
2. AUXILIARY CLASS LECTURES …………………………………………………………………..89
3. THE EVALUATION TOOLS ………………………………………………………………………….97
4. THE PRACTICUM ASSIGNMENTS …………………………………………………………….105
SOURCES CONSULTED ………………………………………………………………………………….114
A project of this magnitude is never completed in a vacuum. To all who enabled and encouraged me in this work, I am deeply grateful.
I was invited into ministry and encouraged in the process by Don Schmierer and Fred Jantz, both of whom found ways to guide and mold, without asphyxiating me. I am also deeply grateful to the congregations of Quail Lakes Baptist Church in Stockton, California, and Cornerstone Community Church of Simi Valley, California, for their gracious acceptance of my leadership and development.
I gratefully acknowledge my family and friends, who make life a celebration. My wife, Mary Kay, is the most encouraging partner a person can have; my children, Taylor, Jeff, Nicole and Morgan, who gave me a three-year time-out to accomplish this work. My friend and colleague David Cooper at Oaks Christian High School, for extending to me leave, encouragement and financial support; Roger Kemp, who kept reminding me that God had called me to this.
I am appreciative of Debbie Gin of Azusa Pacific University for believing in me to the point of appointing me to teach this wonderful subject of worship. I am also indebted to my thesis advisor, Dr. Dale Dirkson of Briarcrest Seminary in Canada. He has been both patient and persistent as he coaxed my best work from me. Finally, I acknowledge the faculty and students of the Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies, who were both inspiring and incredibly fun during my times on campus. Thank you especially to the Mu class; what a ride!
The training of worship leaders is a relatively recent field of University study. While some are satisfied to be a “lead worshiper,” I believe that the Church desperately needs well trained “worship leaders.” Worship leading is a pastoral role, and involves a synergy of skills, knowledge and heart that combine to become something much greater than the parts. Effective worship leadership requires an intricate combination of knowledge, wisdom, passion and skill.
This thesis and skills-oriented video-practicum advance the study and development of how to educate and produce well-prepared worship leaders.
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM
There are several questions that haunt me. Why do Christians gather for worship? What turns a gathering into a worship event? What makes the worship event distinctly Christian? Who should conduct this worship event, and how should they be trained?
Worship leading is a pastoral role, and involves a synergy of skills, knowledge and heart that are combined to become something much more than the parts. Effective worship leadership requires an intricate combination of knowledge, wisdom, passion and skill. One must be a practical theologian in order to plan the content of a worship service. One must also have good public communication skills, so that people will be able to respond to the content, rather than to the leader. Additionally, a worship leader is expected, in many applications, to be a good musician, because of the importance of music in our North American evangelical culture.
I first became aware of the need for training in worship leadership when I was asked to teach a class for the Master of Arts in Worship Leadership program at Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. One of my first tasks was to assess the worship leading of a person who was about to graduate from the program. The lack of skill and theological content displayed led me to inquire as to how often this person had actually led worship during the MAWL curriculum. The person responded “once.” This response reminded me of the person who studies the physics and mechanics of swimming, but never actually gets into the pool to learn how to swim.
If part of the educational process is supposed to “get students into the pool,” I was curious as to how to train students to become good worship leaders. Yet, no tool for teaching the practical aspects of worship leadership presented itself. The specific problem I sought to research was how to teach students the design and delivery skills of a corporate worship-set, so that they would not have to learn through trial and error in front of a real congregation.
Questions to be addressed
The first question addressed was how to teach the design of the corporate worship-set: its content. The late Dr. Robert Webber, one of the foremost thinkers and authors on worship, believed that, ultimately, worship must be judged on its content rather than its style. A video-practicum was conceived, in which students would design and deliver actual worship-sets. Throughout this practicum, I insisted that the worship-set include much more than music. The two-fold service has historically been comprised of music and a sermon. Unfortunately, this pattern places the corporate response before the revelation itself, effectively asking people to respond to God before hearing from him or about him. I instituted a planning model that injected revelation (Scripture) into the worship-set, while at the same time retaining the feel of a “singing” time. This reorientation towards Scripture lessened the importance of both music style and cultural issues. Scripture functioned as the common denominator, allowing intellectual, emotional and cultural access to a wider variety of people.
The second question to be addressed was how to teach the delivery of said content to the gathered Body of Christ. Obviously, good skills can never be an acceptable substitute for an authentic heart to worship God, and worship leadership skills, in particular, are difficult to isolate and practice. How, for example, does one teach and evaluate something so subjective and personal as a student’s worship leading abilities? Additionally, the classroom setting is an awkward and somewhat sterile setting for presenting and evaluating public ministry tools. Yet, the educational process must deal with these skills (what to say to stand people; how to invite them to sing, etc.). The significance of congregational worship demands a leader whose manner will neither eclipse God nor distract those he/she seeks to lead.
This practicum was designed for students to practice the particular skills involved in worship leading, while at the same time not ignoring the spiritual requirements that must accompany these skills. This type of practicum may be likened to the learning of marriage skills. At first, the practice of these skills may seem disingenuous, as if the romance and spontaneity were gone. Ultimately, however, it is hoped that the synergy of learned skills and passion will combine to be all the more effective and powerful.
This applied action research project was embedded within the Master of Arts in Worship Leadership degree that is granted by Azusa Pacific University (APU). Located 26 miles northeast of Los Angeles, APU offers more than 50 areas of undergraduate study, 21 master’s degrees, and 6 doctorates to a total student population of more than 8,300. The stated cornerstones of the university are “Christ, Scholarship, Community and Service”, while its motto is simply “God First.” The school began when a group of spiritual leaders from various denominations met in Whittier, California, and established a Bible college geared to training students for service and missionary endeavors. This school was the first Bible College founded on the West Coast, and is accredited by a number of associations, including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Association of Theological Schools, and the Association for Biblical Higher Education. The college has a 28% ethnic minority rate. The majority of students come from California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Arizona. South Korean students represent a bit over one percent of the school’s population. Students in the Master of Arts in Worship Leadership program are Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian and Asian, and are generally comprised of two-thirds women.
The Master of Arts in Worship Leadership (MAWL) program is designed for those called to a ministry of music and the arts in the local church. The degree, offered jointly by the School of Music and the School of Theology, provides students with input from both disciplines. Additionally, there are four integrative courses that include: 1) History of Worship and Liturgy; 2) Worship Leadership; 3) Field Education in Ministry; 4) Philosophy of Ministry. The problem being addressed, namely, how to teach worship leadership students the design and delivery skills of a corporate worship-set, was the focus of the practicum portion of the Worship Leadership course. This course is a four-unit summer intensive class and is held over six consecutive days during the summer. The afternoon sessions, consisting of six four-hour segments, focused on learning and practicing the skill-set of worship leading, were the context for this project.
Students studying in the MAWL program are decidedly non-liturgical, and the overwhelming majority will have come from a free-church background. A word should be said about the cultural climate of southern California, since most students in this class will have been affected by it. The Jesus Movement of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s heavily influenced Christian expression in the southwestern United States. Though this movement grew out of an anti-establishment sentimentality, it was considered by many to have been an actual revival. Unfortunately, many mainline churches in southern California did not accept the movement, or the tremendous number of conversions it produced, and were effectively marginalized in this part of the country. I am reminded of Dr. Gerald Borchert’s reflections on John 8:39-41: “religious rules of worship and life can actually prevent us from recognizing God’s awesome presence and work in our midst.” Consequently, many southern California Christians do not identify themselves by denomination. As a result, most students in the MAWL program do not have an historic liturgical framework from which to work.
Purpose, Design and Evaluation of This Project
The stated objectives, as listed in the course syllabus, best convey the purpose of this practicum.
-Identify and discuss the philosophy, similarities and differences of personal and
-Identify and incorporate the various biblical responses that have been historically
employed in corporate worship.
-Design brief congregational-based (rather than platform-based) worship services,
centering on the concept of revelation and response.
-Identify and employ a battery of skills for execution, analysis and evaluation of
-Apply preparation techniques with respect to materials, media, musicians,
-Demonstrate various presentational skills for maximum effectiveness by leading
-Demonstrate improvement in presentational skills through the utilization of
video, instructor and peer feedback.
The goal of this project was to design and teach an effective, skills-oriented training practicum for worship leaders in the free-church tradition. In order to accomplish this goal, I taught a 6-day intensive summer class on worship leadership to eight MAWL students. Professor Debbie Gin, coordinator of the MAWL program, approved the lesson plans and the overall construction of the course. As stated above, the class met four hours a day for six consecutive days. Students learned to design the corporate worship-set based on a revelation-response pattern of worship. Students were assigned an outlined Scripture passage to use as a “roadmap” or framework for their worship planning. They utilized the scriptural outline provided to plug-in various congregational actions and songs.
Students led an abbreviated worship-set (called a micro-worship-set) each day (six times total), incorporating the various presentation skills presented during the instruction time. This micro-worship-set limited the length of songs to one verse or chorus (for time’s sake), and were followed by immediate oral and written feedback from both fellow students and the instructor. Each micro-worship-set was videotaped, to provide both a baseline from which to measure, and to enable each student to receive a viewing evaluation on day three or four, and again on day six.
Students were evaluated in several ways. On day one, a written pre-test was administered to ascertain the existing knowledge of the students, and was compared to a similar test administered on the last day. On day six, a final, full worship-set was led and videotaped, to demonstrate the integration of both design and delivery skills, and was assessed quantitatively according to the class topics and content. The design of the corporate worship-set was judged quantitatively by the Kerygma (theological content), and Leitourgia (congregational actions, including Koinonia) included in the worship-set. The delivery of the corporate worship-set was judged qualitatively by the specific skills assigned to the categories of Ethos, Pathos and Klerikoi (conducting the community’s actions). The medium of video contributed to a more objective assessment of these skills through the use of viewing evaluations. Additionally, students provided a final, anonymous written evaluation of both the course and the instructor, to provide additional information for future improvements to the course.
I feel compelled to train the next generation of worship leaders, and this project was an attempt to discover how best to teach and refine the skills of worship leading. It is my hope that this type of practicum will save new worship leaders (and their churches) several years of avoidable mistakes. Also, I hope to develop a teaching curriculum that will transfer to other educational institutions and contexts. Finally, I believe with A. W. Tozer that the heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today “is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy” both of Christ and the church. Therefore, my long-term goal is to elevate the church’s concept of corporate worship by producing worship leaders who are much more than song leaders.
Limitations and Definitions of This Study
The practicum resulting from this action research project was intended to help prepare worship leadership students to minister in the free-church tradition. This tradition will be placed in its historical and theological context in chapter two of this thesis. The practicum specifically targets the worship-set portion of a two-fold service. The two-fold service will also be contextualized biblically, historically and theologically in chapter two of this thesis.
The practicum dealt only with planning and leading congregational actions in the corporate worship-set, and did not address additional expressions of the service such as solos, offering, artistic expressions or the sermon. Finally, this study did not attempt to address secondary issues of worship such as style and diverse cultural expressions (although they were discussed), but rather, focused on the theological content and leadership skills of congregational response.
a. Worship-set. Also known as the worship package, and/or praise time. Generally refers to the “singing” time before the sermon in a two-fold service design.
b. Micro-worship-set. This term refers to an abbreviated worship-set in which the songs are merely started, in order to allow time and emphasis on the pertinent skills, rather than on the songs. It is assumed that students have musical ability, and that if they do not, this class will not be able to provide it.
c. Content-based worship (as opposed to song-based worship). Many contemporary worship leaders begin their worship planning not with a plan, liturgy or design in mind, but rather, with a list of songs. Content-based worship utilizes the revelation-response cycle of communication. God speaks, and the congregation responds with a variety of biblical responses, including singing.
d. Worship leadership skills. These skills include, but are not limited to, the act of standing up in front of a crowd and speaking, praying, leading singing, transitioning and gesturing with the purpose of guiding others along a pre-determined path in the paying of homage to God.
e. Corporate worship tools. Corporate responses which can be loosely categorized into music, declaration, prayer, and symbolic acts, and which can be found to be verified in the Bible or in historical usage.
f. Viewing evaluation. An evaluation in which the student and instructor view the student’s video-taped micro-worship-set for the purpose of identifying the presence or absence of particular skills and components.
g. MAWL. This acronym stands for the Master of Arts in Worship Leadership program, offered by Azusa Pacific University.
h. APU. This acronym stands for Azusa Pacific University, located in Azusa, California.
Biblical and Theological Legitimacy
The congregational responses employed in this study were gleaned from Scripture (Psalms and portions in the New Testament where worship gatherings and liturgical actions can be identified) and categorized according to Grenz’s book Theology for the Community of God. Biblical rationales for the Christian gathering were emphasized as a main motivation to design and lead congregational-based worship. The biblical and historical pattern of revelation-response was referenced as the rationale to incorporate Scripture into the worship-set (Col 3:16). Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Theological Seminary, referenced Prov 28:9 when he stated, “if worshipers won’t listen to what God says, then He doesn’t much care what they have to say” .
Finding a biblical foundation for teaching the skills of worship leading is difficult because of the evolution of the corporate expressions from the early Church to the present time. Though a stretch to our modern application, David personifies a combination of heart and skill that can be adapted to the training of worship leaders. Psalms 78:70-72 describes David’s leading Israel “with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” This synopsis provided a framework from which to present the skills of worship leading.
The theological underpinnings of this study are based on the Greek words Kerygma, Leitourgia, Klerikoi, Ethos and Pathos. For the design portion of this project, Kerygma (proclamation; teachings) represented the theological content of the worship-set. The Theologians most referenced for this portion were Stanley Grenz and A. W. Tozer, who defined idolatry as “the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.” Leitourgia (work of the people) represented the sequence of communal acts in the worship-set, as well as the acts themselves. The most-referenced Theologians for this portion were Stanley Grenz and Robert Webber, who stated, “The order of worship rehearses our relationship to God.”
For the delivery portion of the project, Klerikoi (orchestrate) represented the style and skills employed to guide and direct the community through the worship-set.
F. Russell Mitman states: “Worship leaders have the wonderful opportunity, as no other vocation is mandated, to bring together the people and to put together the expressions that lead to this awesome immersion into the very being of God.” Ethos (perceived ethical character) addressed the non-verbal communication involved in leadership, such as the response caused through a leader’s perceived authenticity and gestures. Pathos (persona) represented the verbal skills, encompassing the character or role the leader plays and what people feel. John Wesley wrote “That this silent language of your face and hands may move the affections of those that see and hear you, it must be well adjusted to the subject, as well as to the passion which you desire either to express or excite.” For some aspects of delivery, I accessed both theatrical and public speaking resources.
THE DESIGN AND DELIVERY OF CORPORATE WORSHIP
Introduction to Worship: the Hebrews
One cannot consider the issue of corporate worship without first considering the question of why people worship at all. It would seem, in the words of Marva Dawn’s book, to be A Royal Waste of Time. Yet, the general existence of worship rituals in all known cultures testifies to the importance of worship to Mankind. Evelyn Underhill states that worship, in its simplest form, is “an acknowledgment of Transcendence; that is to say, of a Reality independent of the worshipper, which is always more or less deeply coloured by mystery, and which is there first.” The acknowledgement of this mysterious and independent reality has revealed itself in countless customs and rituals. Ronald Byars suggests that this natural craving for ritual is actually instinctive in humans.
No examination of a culture is complete apart from a study of that culture’s ritual patterns and ceremonies. Since Man is both spirit and flesh, there seems to be an innate drive to enflesh worship through the use of signs, symbols and ceremonies. The employment of these elements has by nature a social quality, thereby creating ritual, which Underhill defines as “an agreed pattern of ceremonial movement, sound or verbal formula, creating a framework in which corporate religious action can take place.”
Hebrew ritual, in particular, is well documented, with the lyrics to their music still preserved , giving a living glimpse into some of the various motivations and methods of their worship. In the Psalms we see processionals, liturgical responses, songs and prayers. The rituals of a particular people seem to reveal what they believe about their gods, and what their responsibilities are in light of that belief. Because Christianity is the fulfillment of the Jewish anticipation of a Messiah, Hebrew worship provides a natural foundation for the consideration of the essentials of Christian worship. As background for this study, I will briefly review four motivations for Jewish worship: covenant obligation; appropriate response; obedience to the command to praise; and, finally, the purpose of human existence.
A primary theme in Jewish worship focuses on the concept of covenant. A covenant is “a political format for maintaining relationships without the use of force,” and provides a structure for the Hebrew wherein God and Man can relate to one another. In a covenant, one party is dominant and the other is subordinate. Major Old Testament covenants included Noahic (Gen 9:18-17), Abrahamic (Gen 15:9-21; Gen 17), Sinaitic (Exod 19-24) and Davidic (2 Sam 7:5-16).
Throughout Hebrew history, the covenant between God and the Israelites is the dominant reference point. Covenants outlined how both God and the Jews would live out their relationship with each other. Obedience to covenant revealed the spiritual condition of the nation. For example: “All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful, for those who keep the demands of his covenant” (Ps 27:10). Covenant keeping was a major part of the relationship between God and the Jews.
The Appropriate Response
Covenant obligation was not the sole motivation for worship amongst the ancient Hebrews. When a finite creature realizes he has been created by the Infinite, he becomes keenly aware that allegiance and homage are demanded in response; it is only appropriate. Similarly, a People who have experienced mercy in the form of forgiveness or deliverance realize that the Giver of mercy deserves their gratitude; it is seemly. Lewis likens it to the sense in which a work of Art demands or deserves our attention. In the “Art” metaphor, Lewis alleges that appreciation is the correct and expected response, and adds “if we do not admire we shall be stupid, insensible, and great losers; we shall have missed something.”
The Hebrews expressed the expected response of the Creation to the Creator.
The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the waters. (Psalm 24:1)
In other words, everything belongs to God because everything was made by God. It is self-evident that the creature should pay homage to the Creator, and seems ample motivation for worship.
The Hebrews expressed the expected response of the Finite to the Infinite.
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom. (Ps 145:3)
An attitude of humbled amazement surfaces throughout the Psalms. The Psalm writers frequently become caught up in the greatness of God, and often will list the deeds or attributes of God that best seem to illustrate the reason for their feelings of awe. Tozer, describes this as the fear of God, and uses phrases like astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the breathless silence that we know when God is. Worship, in this context, resembles a reflex or a spontaneous expression of the heart. It is not conjured up, but simply bubbles over.
The Hebrews expressed the expected response of the Forgiven to the Forgiver.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits
Who forgives all your sins, and heals your diseases. (Ps 103:2-3)
With these words the Psalmist shows both his awareness of personal sin and God’s willingness to forgive. The praise of the forgiven reflects the spirit of a drowning person who has been thrown a life preserver, or a parched person who has received a long drink of cool water. Deep gratitude is instantly and naturally expressed.
The Hebrews expressed the expected response of the Delivered to the Deliverer.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them. (Ps 34:7)
Deliverance was a concept the Jews understood well. The festival of Passover reenacts Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, and the festival of Purim recalls Esther’s courage in helping to deliver the Jews from Xerxes’ edict (Esth 9:31-32). Persecution was a fact of life for the “chosen” people. Remembrance of God’s deliverance turned their hearts toward the Deliverer.
God Requires It
A third motivation of Hebrew worship flows from the command of God. Not only is worship expected of a covenant participant, and appropriate from the recipient of mercies beyond measure, but also God commands worship. Three such commands come quickly to mind:
“You shall have no other gods before Me . . . for I, the LORD your God,
am a jealous God” (Ex. 20:3-4).
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might: (Deut. 6:5)
“Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him” (Psalm 45:11).
Even in the vocabulary of worship, the command to praise is evident. The word “Hallelujah” is used recurrently in the Psalter. Noted Hebrew scholar and author Ronald Allen explains that this word is a “compound term. It is made of a plural imperative of the verb ‘to praise’ coupled to the short form of the name of God, ‘yah’.” The word Hallelujah, therefore, impels the community of God-followers to praise God.
At the center of the command to worship is the imperative to worship from the heart.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
There is no doubt that God required blood sacrifices as a part of Hebrew worship (Lev 1, 4, 5). Yet, notes Allen, he also repudiated these same sacrifices when offered apart from true repentance or heartfelt worship (Isa 1:11; Ps 40:6-8). God always looks at the heart of his worshipers.
A Central Purpose of Human Existence
Scripture reveals that Hebrew worship arises from covenant requirement, appropriate response, and obedience to the command to praise. Finally, it teaches that worship is a central purpose of human existence. Psalm 89 describes the practiced worshiper as one who experiences God’s presence constantly.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
Who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
They rejoice in your name all day long;
They exult in your righteousness. (Ps 89:15-16)
The Psalter describes those as “blessed” who are continually praising God. The urge to praise seems to be programmed into creation, and it appears that Mankind is not exempt from this desire. The closing command of the Psalter gives particular insight into the purpose of life, commanding everything that has breath, or being, to give praise to God (Ps 150)!
The Essentials of Christian Worship
This investigation into the design and leadership of corporate Christian worship raises several issues that deserve to be addressed. The first question is, “Why should Christians worship?” In contrast to the parent Hebrew religion, Christianity received little scriptural instruction for worship. Secondly, “What are the distinctives which make worship Christian?” Inherent to this question is that there is corporate Christian activity that is not worship. Thirdly, the worship leader must answer the question “Why should Christians gather for worship,” rather than worshiping in solitude. These three inquiries will lay the groundwork to the design and leadership of corporate Christian worship.
Why Christians Worship
A. W. Tozer maintained that worship is the “normal employment” of human beings. Yet, there is a movement in the United States to convert the Sunday service into a primarily evangelistic gathering. Whereas Christians used to gather for fellowship and worship and scatter for evangelism, the Church Growth model is to gather on Sunday for evangelism, and perhaps again for a mid-week worship event. According to Ronald Allen, however, the worship of God is the priority and ultimate end of his redemptive work. Though important, Peterson agrees that evangelism is not the primary purpose of the gathering, based on 1 Corinthians 14. Still, some wonder if evangelism will somehow get lost if the Church focuses on worship. Tozer counters that “practically every great deed done in the church of Christ all the way back to the apostle Paul was done by people blazing with the radiant worship of their God.” Allen also agrees that corporate worship fuels evangelism. Service, including evangelism, is the natural byproduct of worship.
Tozer proposes that when God created us in his image, he gave us the capability to appreciate and admire his attributes. Still, the capacity to worship does not explain the Christian’s motivation to worship. In this regard, Saliers believes that the two crucial themes of thanksgiving and doxology emerge from religious praxis. Tozer also indicates that there are two kinds of love for God: thanksgiving for his acts, and amazement at his person. He complains, though, that most worshipers rarely get beyond gratitude. Christians, then, worship in response to God’s mercies (Rom 12:1), and in appreciation of his attributes (Rom 11:33-36). Or as the Eucharistic prayers begin: ‘It is our duty and delight to offer you thanks and praise!’ ”
Distinctives of Christian Worship
The question of a “Christian distinctive” is central to studying the design and delivery of corporate worship. James White suggests that anyone responsible for planning or leading worship must know what is distinctive about Christian worship. As stated above, there are few New Testament directives concerning Christian worship. There must be, however, certain distinctive requirements of Christian action and worship, if Christianity is indeed a “new covenant” (Luke 22:20).
It must be granted that various cultures will express their worship for God in a variety of ways. Allen stresses that these various expressions are to be encouraged, but must be deeply rooted in biblical truths that are unchangeable. Undoubtedly, God himself initiates worship. God is seeking worshipers (John 4:23), and inviting them to draw near so that he might reveal himself (Ex 24:1-2). Accuracy regarding the subject and object of worship is essential. In a day where the media heralds that Christians, Mormons, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God, it is essential to address and acknowledge God as he has revealed himself, rather than as we wish him to be. Otherwise, we commit idolatry by thinking thoughts of God that are beneath him. But what are those distinctive factors that make worship Christian? I believe the factors that must be present in Christian worship are that it must be Trinitarian and Christocentric.
The Trinity is a major Christian doctrine, duplicated by no other religion in the world. It has great implications for why Christians gather (this will be discussed later). If Christians are to pay homage to this God, we must season our speech, songs and prayers with this central tenet. Saliers goes so far as to state that “no true worship is possible without the naming of the blessed Trinity.” This portion of the 5th century Athanasian Creed gives an orthodox depiction of the Christian God:
That we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father: another of the Son: and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.
Such as the Father is: such is the Son: and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreated: the Son uncreated: and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
The Father incomprehensible: the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal: the Son eternal: and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
As also not three uncreated, nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated: and one incomprehensible.
So, likewise, the Father is Almighty: the Son Almighty: and the Holy Spirit Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties but one Almighty.
So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Spirit is God.
And yet they are not three Gods but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord: the Son Lord: and the Holy Spirit Lord.
And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.
In addition to being Trinitarian, Christian worship is at the invitation of Christ, and is centered upon the Christ-event. In commenting on the centrality of Jesus Christ to Christian worship, Old Testament professor Andrew Hill submits:
In the writings of the apostles, nothing is clearer than the fact that everything in sacred history–event, object, sacred place, theophany, cult–has been assumed into the person of the incarnate Christ. The Old Testament temple and altar with their rituals and sacrifices are replaced not by a new set of rituals and shrines, but by the self-giving of the Son of God in reconciling obedience to the will of the Father.
Professor and author Gerald Borchert interprets John chapter 14 to mean that Christ was revealing to the Disciples “that in him they were facing nothing less than the mysterious divine reality itself – the subject of their worship!” Jesus must be central in any Christian action that purports to be worship.
Not only must Jesus be central, but there must also be specific belief in his regard. He must be acknowledged as Lord and God (John 20:28), resurrected and victorious (Rev 1:17-18), and forgiver of sins (Matt 26:28). Professor Hill stresses, “True worship pleasing to the Father is none other than participating in the saving life, death and resurrection of Christ, to which we are called to participate, whether assembled or dispersed.” Celebrating the Christus Victor (Victorious Christ) must be a central theme in Christian worship.
The issue of freedom in Christ is sometimes invoked when defending a particular worship practice or emphasis. Freedom, however, carries with it a responsibility as well as a privilege. The worship leader must be warned that to choose the license of one’s own opinions is simply a new form of bondage. Freedom can easily and quickly morph into self-gratification, producing anthropocentric, rather than Christocentric, worship.
Why Christians Gather to Worship
The prior discussion on worship has laid the foundation for understanding the nature of Christian worship in a general sense. We turn now to the worship gathering itself. Throughout history, beliefs have changed and evolved regarding God and the sacraments, but the one constant has been the Christian gathering. It is imperative, therefore, in this individualistic age, to ask why the gathering is indispensable, and how it is distinctive from personal worship. Why, for example, shouldn’t a person simply stay home and worship, or go to their favorite “spot” to commune with God? The serious student of worship leadership must answer these questions in order to plan and lead worship that is uniquely corporate. I offer four reasons to gather which include the unity of the Trinity, the priesthood of believers, the edification of believers and the command of Scripture.
The unity of the Trinity is foundational in the gathering of believers. In other words, because God lives in eternal fellowship with himself, the Church is to reflect the nature of God in that fellowship. Grenz explains. “Because God is a social (triune) reality, it is only in relationship – in community – that we are able to reflect the divine nature.” James Torrance describes worship as a participation in the divine, heavenly worship that is taking place even now. Trinitarian worship, writes Torrance, is the “gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father.” When believers gather to worship, they enter into the ongoing fellowship of the Trinity, and are, in a sense, joining a party that is already in progress.
A second reason to gather for worship has to do with the doctrine of believer priesthood. The Apostle Peter writes “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). In his commentary on 1 Peter, Ernest Best observes that Peter is describing the Church, noting that believers, who were the spiritual stones of the temple, have now become the temple itself. He further states that these same believers are to function as the priesthood by offering spiritual sacrifices. What are these spiritual sacrifices that the gathered believers are to offer? There are four New Testament offerings of which sacrificial language is used: 1) Thanks and Praise (Heb. 13:15); 2) Giving (Phil 4:18); 3) Self (Rom. 12:1-2); 4) Service (Phil 2:17).
While 1 Peter 1:5 hints at what believers are to do when they gather, the Apostle continues to describe the actual identity of the gathering.
“But you are A chosen race, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10).
The language used is plural; it is group instruction. Best continues his evaluation by noting that the priesthood equates to a body of priests, and that a believer is “never a priest in and of himself; it is only as a member of the corporate priesthood that he is such, and he can only exercise his priesthood within the corporate existence of the church.” Writing for the NIV Application Commentary, Scott McKnight defines the purpose of the church as declaring ‘the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ In other words, the entire church is to share the peace and joy found in Christ.
It is evident from the above verses and observations that the corporate gathering is to be a uniquely corporate action, rather than many individual actions in a crowded room. The main term for the Christian gathering is the Greek word ekklesia, referring to those who are called out from the world. Grenz describes it as a shared identity for which the church was created. Therefore, as the Christian worship space fills with believers, one actually witnesses this priesthood reconstitute itself. In addressing the question of the gathering, Allen simply states that it is to meet with God, and that worship is to be pursued both as a community and as individuals. He writes, “When we come to public worship, we come as the people of God, with the people of God, to meet with our God together.” Underhill observes that Christians are unable to fulfill certain obligations in solitude. Christians must gather and install themselves into the Body, just as a Stonecutter fits stones into a wall (Eph. 2:20-22).
A third reason to gather corporately has to do with the horizontal relationship among believers, which comes as a result of vertical worship. Peterson concludes that the reasons for the worship gathering are to reconstitute the temple of God so that believers can recall his revelation, and so that they can spur each other on towards holy living. Edification is the byproduct of the priesthood’s ministry to God. Psalm 34 gives an explanation of this dual process. “My soul will make its boast in the LORD; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (34:2-3). The result of boasting in the Lord is that others are also encouraged.
It is important to notice that even Paul’s musical directives are given within the context of instructions to the community.
“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph 5:19-21).
“Singing, then, has two audiences,” notes Snodgrass. “Christians sing to each other, reminding each other about God’s character and work in Christ, but they also sing to the Lord as a way of offering praise to him.” I mentioned earlier that edification is a byproduct of worship. Allen explains: “we come as a group to give to God-and also to receive from him. And in this process we find ourselves also giving to God’s people and receiving from them.” This duality could be compared to the tuning of an orchestra. The various instruments all submit themselves to the pitch of the oboe, and are therefore also in tune with one another.
Corporate worship that is focused on edification, rather than on God, can quickly displace God from the center of the gathering. In his overview of the second half of the 20th century, Robert Webber observed that Liberal Christianity sided with the cultural secularists, but shed worship of its supernatural qualities. In response, Conservative Christianity turned worship into a defense of the supernatural, but in the process lost the mystery of worship. Since worship without mystery is boring and predictable, contemporary trends and Church Growth techniques employed entertainment techniques to engage the culture, but disregarded the legacy of Christian history. Because a worship gathering devoid of legacy is irresolute, the focus naturally migrates from God to one another.
Modern Evangelicalism has tended to gravitate toward the “personal” side of God’s story, to the neglect of the “cosmic” story. This tendency has been accentuated by the narcissistic nature of North American culture during the last 50 years, and has produced Christians who believe that their personal relationship with God trumps their corporate responsibilities. Therefore, the reference of certain biblical imperatives to gather is warranted. These directives are both explicit and implicit, and virtually demand that Christians not live in isolation. Hebrews 10:24-25 states “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Acts 2:42 describes the young Christian church: “they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
The New Testament command to gather for worship is also implied in a number of ways. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, for example, he specifically beseeches God on behalf of the community of believers, thereby assuming its existence. He also prays that the unity of believers will prove his own identity, as well as the love that God has for the world (John 17:23). Grenz argues that the very existence of the Christian community proves that Jesus came to the earth, and that the Holy Sprit is present and is reconstituting believers into the Body of Christ.
The Design of Corporate Worship
The foregoing has presented research on the factors that make worship Christian, as well as the various reasons to gather for worship. This study now tackles two questions that will both inform and guide the student worship leader in the design and planning of the corporate worship event. The first is what makes the corporate gathering decidedly worship, rather than just an ordinary gathering of believers. How, for example, is a Christian worship event different than a Christian potluck or a Christian softball game? The second question is generally informed by the first, and asks, “What specifically should Christians do at this gathering?” In researching the second question, a review of the biblical and historical precedents will help to contextualize the problem stated within this study.
Requirements of Corporate Worship
Might a person maintain correct doctrine, perform the appropriate actions, and still not actually worship? Is sincerity enough, or are there are certain kinds of worship that God will not accept, though they may be directed toward him and meant to honor him. Allen surmises, “Only when right action is coupled with a right heart may one then sense God’s pleasure. Anything less is not biblical worship.” I will offer three distinctive priorities necessary to transform a Christian gathering into a worship event, including the revelation and response cycle, attentiveness and worship in spirit and truth.
Revelation and Response
One ingredient that transforms a Christian gathering into a Christian worship event is the cycle of revelation and response. Joseph Sittler called it dogma and doxa, and used a musical analogy to describe the worship event. “Dogma and Doxa – what we believe and what we pray, constitute a single music in contrapuntal form.” I would submit that Dogma makes the gathering Christian, but response makes the gathering Doxa (praise to God). Luther says of Christian worship “that nothing else be done in it than that our dear Lord himself talk to us through his holy word and that we, in turn, talk to him in prayer and song of praise.” Orthodox theologian George Florovsky states “Christian worship is the response of men to the Divine call, to the ‘mighty deeds’ of God culminating in the redemptive act of Christ.” The Christian gathering, then, becomes a worship event when gathered Christians take up the dance of revelation and response.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians links the revelation of God to the response of gathered believers. It says “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Col 3:16).” Commentator David Garland observes that “The ‘word of Christ’ refers to the message about Christ” and that “worship is our response to what Christ has done and continues to do.” Garland further proposes that Scripture-centered worship will produce a more mature faith. Commenting on the same verse, Ralph Martin alleges that while singing and gratitude are featured in corporate worship, hymnody must be subordinated to the ministry of teaching and exhortation.” The assertion that song is subordinated to the Word of God is an important principle, and its acceptance could have a major impact on the sequence of contemporary Evangelical worship. The order of revelation and response is in keeping with both theological and historical precedent, and will be further appropriated in a following section on worship service structure.
A second distinctive of the corporate worship event is the concept attentiveness or focus. God demands wholehearted worship. Saliers believes that Christian response is different from rote prayers and actions, and that authentic response is characterized by “wholehearted attentiveness or attunement to God in and through the utterances.” Allen warns that half-hearted participation in community worship leaves one under the “sad judgment of a disappointed God,” referencing “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mark 7:6). One such example of half-hearted worship is the Church at Laodicea, which was chastised not for incorrect doctrine, but for halfhearted devotion (Rev 3:15-16).
When a church has sound doctrine but halfhearted worship, it is in danger of slipping back into a medieval understanding of piety, wherein the practice of ex opere operato (done in the doing) effectively separated heart from belief. The Roman Catholic Church has gone to great lengths recently to reverse this mishandling of worship. In The Vatican II council issued the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which now calls for “full, conscious, active participation” in the rites.
Half-hearted worship is not just a Catholic problem, but is, rather, a human problem to be strongly resisted. King David declares “I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing” (1 Chr 21:24). Worship is costly, as Professor Borchert notes with his comment that worship which costs nothing is “worth just about that much.” The costly response to God’s mercy represented in Romans 12:1 is the offering of self as a living sacrifice. It has been said that living sacrifices tend to crawl off the altar. Christians, therefore, must be vigilant to offer wholehearted worship, and to attend to God as both Subject and Object of worship.
In Spirit and Truth
A third distinctive of the corporate worship event is most clearly addressed by Jesus himself. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). White interprets this duality as the revelation and response cycle, and adds that it must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Tozer notes that true worship requires both spirit and truth, because spirit without truth is helpless, and truth without spirit is “theology without a fire.” This duality is an area where Christianity must live in the tension between two necessary elements, neither overemphasizing one nor the other.
Pastor and author Steve Brown addressed the dangers in overemphasizing either
spirit or truth by developing the following grid.
Emphasis Focus Result
Total Truth Total Form Legalism; Bondage; Dead Orthodoxy
Total Spirit Total Freedom Idolatry; License; Superstition
Spirit & Truth Form & Freedom Balance in Worship
The astute student of culture and liturgical history will notice immediate application to corporate worship. The overemphasis of truth, form, and the resulting dead orthodoxy hearkens back to the Enlightenment mindset of knowledge over experience. Conversely, the overemphasis of spirit, freedom and the resulting license may be a warning to both Charismatic and postmodern tendencies of experience over knowledge. Christ’s imperative to worship in both spirit and truth must drive worship leaders towards a convergence of spirit and truth, form and freedom, and the resulting symmetry.
Inherent in the concept of “essentials of Christian worship” is the fact that there is worship that is not acceptable to God. Cain and the sons of Aaron (Nadab and Abihu) are examples of people whose worship was rejected by God. When speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus said that her people, too, worshiped what they did not know. In other words, it is quite possible to have some of the elements of worship, and still not “be among the redeemed at all.” The underlying lesson for student worship leaders is that, no matter how sincere or polished worship may be, there exists a line between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, and they must learn to discern the difference.
Responses of Corporate Worship
The convergence of spirit and truth provides both guidance and much latitude to the corporate worship event. In contrast to the Old Testament, worship in the New Testament is not given a particular rubric (though some might suggest that Word and Table are the rubric). Rather than a strict set of instructions, Christianity focuses on a person. Hence, we can express our love to God in many ways. The common denominator will always be a delighted sense of “admiring awe and a sincere humility on our part.” This transformation from rubric to person will result in a cultus that more closely resembles relationship response, rather than ritualistic routine.
Yet, even relationships need embodiment. Man is neither completely spiritual nor completely fleshly, and must give his Man-God relationship some sort of “concrete expression.” Herein is a dangerous reality. As in any relationship, authentic response can degenerate into mechanical repetition, and can smother true and spontaneous affection with layers of religious ritual. Thankfully, God has provided numerous biblical means that he has indicated are acceptable, and which help keep this relationship vital and fresh.
The Means of Corporate Worship
In his book Theology for the Community of God Stanley Grenz presents insight into the various activities for corporate worship. He lists music, declaration, prayer and symbolic acts as being especially useful vehicles for corporate worship. The following will briefly explore each of these ingredients within the context of the corporate worship event.
The presence of worship music is scattered throughout the New Testament record (Matt. 26:30; 1 Cor 14:26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), and is a continuation Old Testament worship practice (Exod 15:1-18). Grenz suggests that music is useful in that it can incorporate both the cognitive and the noncognitive aspects of life, by giving voice to “what cannot be said through words alone.” There are few other activities that involve body, soul, mind and emotion. Music is a vehicle that delivers truth to the heart by engaging the whole person. At the same time, music provides an appropriate avenue of response to that truth by combining both mind and emotion in praise to God.
The joining of truth to music should be explained, however, as the truth of which we speak is not contained in the music itself, but in the lyrics. There is a synergy that happens when truth is artistically joined to melody, wherein both are energized and effective. New Testament references to music, cited above, were employing mostly creedal material or Scripture as its lyrics. Conversely, contemporary worship songs more closely resemble individual prayers, and tend to function as such, rather than theology set to music.
Music is not worship, but is merely a means of worship. It is, however, difficult to maintain this perspective in a society that is addicted to music, wherein many define themselves according to their preferred musical style. While many in earlier generations chose a Church according to its theology or preaching, many in the current Christian culture choose a Church according to its musical style. Musical style is a secondary issue, according to Harold Best. Though stylistic relevance is important, music does not deserve equal consideration with more central discussions of lyrics, worship philosophy and theology.
To be sure, stylistic diversity is welcome, even necessary, in order to accommodate various cultural expressions of worship. Assorted factions, however, have employed the mention of “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:13; and Colossians 3:16) to both justify and exclude particular music styles. Even among scholars, there is a lack of uniform understanding of the terms psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. In his commentary on Colossians 3:16, David Garland suggests:
Any distinction among these three words [psalms, hymns and spiritual songs] is merely guesswork, since we have no direct evidence. They do attest to “a variety and richness of Christian singing” and how central it was to their worship.
Ralph Martin offers another view:
We may assume that “Psalms” in our present verse carries the same notion, though older commentators thought that probably the Psalms of David would be included under this caption. Hymns are sometimes taken to be expressions of praise to God or Christ. Spiritual songs is a phrase that uses a general term for music composition (Greek ode).
Harold Best prefers to talk of usefulness in church music, rather than style or variety. Accordingly, Donald Hustad suggests the term “functional Church Music,” which he defines as music that serves both a vertical purpose (glorifying God) and a horizontal purpose (edification). Quality in Church music is a difficult thing to measure, in light of the function it serves in the corporate setting. In this regard, James White warns that a church’s music repertoire must be in accordance with the congregation’s culture and context, or the choosing can become elitist.
The blessings afforded by music must be balanced with a word of caution. Music, in the hands of a skilled leader, can be used as a tool of manipulation, rather than for glorifying God. Hustad is convinced that church music falls short of its high purpose “when ethos is its principal meaning, or when, for persuasion purposes, it resorts to excessive invitation to manipulation.” Manipulation of tempo, well-placed key-changes, groove, a flowing play-list, and repetition are musical tools that are sometimes employed to get people to feel, or to “enter in.” This feeling may or may not arise from the Spirit of God, and extreme discernment is necessary on the part of the worship leader.
A second means of corporate worship is declaration. Grenz asserts that the biblical writers encouraged the gathered community to worship God both for who he is and for what he does. To this end, early worshipers participated in corporate declaration in a variety of ways, including both confessions and hymns. Psalm 29:1-2 incites worshipers to:
Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in holy array.
The New Testament, too, contains various examples of declaration. 1 Timothy 3:16 affirms:
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
Ralph Martin maintains that the first confessions of faith tended to be expressed in “short, simple sentences like ‘Jesus is the Christ’, or ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’, whereas hymns represent a longer statement of the Person and work of Christ (Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20).” Corporate declaration also occurred through something as simple as the congregational “Amen” (1 Cor 14.16). The Apostle Paul affirms Timothy’s corporate confession: “you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim 6:12). In addition to Scripture, Church history has produced various corporate confessions such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, which are excellent ways to involve the gathered believers in declaration. The public speaking and singing of doctrine can be both unifying and affirming.
The reading and explaining of Scripture (Neh 8:1-9; 1 Tim 4:13; Acts 20:7) is another way the gathered believers declare the nature and goodness of God. When not read corporately, the gathered believers should actively and vigilantly engage in hearing Scripture, listening for the overtones of God in his spoken Word. Grenz proposes an interesting connection between declaration and edification. “By keeping before its members the grand sweep of God’s actions from the past to the future – whether through preaching and teaching or in less direct ways such as liturgy and music –the church edifies its members.” It is important that the whole story of God be told, rather than focusing on favorite or easily accessible passages.
A third means of corporate worship is through the incorporation of prayer into the worship gathering. Historically, prayer was employed to rehearse God’s attributes and actions before the congregation. Biblically, prayers of intercession (1 Thess 5:25; 1 Tim 2:1-4), confession (Luke 11:4), praise and adoration (Matt 6:9), supplication and thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6) are all appropriate modes of addressing God. Corporate prayer, however, can be a somewhat messy corporate action, and many churches avoid the difficulties in a variety of ways, including having one person pray (while others hopefully pray along) or by using prepared or memorized prayers. It should be noted that much of the language in contemporary worship songs, as noted above, functions as prayer. Though the language is not usually corporate, the group singing of this repertoire does qualify as corporate prayer.
The employment of litanies, such as Psalm 136, is another excellent way to involve the gathered worshipers, and is used in many liturgical services. Also, the corporate employment of silence and lamentation are two biblical but sometimes underutilized instruments of corporate prayer. The plethora of lamentation in Scripture bears witness to its importance (two-thirds of the Psalms are laments). Saliers underscores the use of lamentation by warning that praise and thanksgiving become shallow in the absence of rage over suffering and injustice. His warning has great bearing on the design of corporate worship. Without the inclusion of lament, the life and worship of the Church will bear little resemblance to real life, and may possibly be interpreted as hype to outsiders.
Scriptural admonitions to use meditation are also abundant, as in Josh 1:8. White champions this use of silence, but warns that its best use is dependant upon discipline. He suggests that silence comes to be fully corporate by being directed in such a way that all worshipers focus together “in confessing sin, reflecting on a lesson just read, or offering intercession.” In this way, he says that even meditation can be intensely communal. The aspiring worship leader will need to give much effort to ensure that corporate prayer, including silence, is both authentic and truly corporate.
A fourth means of corporate worship, according to Grenz, is the utilization of symbolic acts. As Christians endeavor to worship in both “Spirit and truth,” they realize that there is a physical side of being spiritual. Robert Webber states that the nature of faith “demands the transformation of supernatural concepts into visible images and symbols.” Symbolism must be appropriated to communicate, because finite language is not capable of expressing supernatural truth. Underhill observes that every society with a religious consciousness gives concrete expressions to their beliefs through both ritual and institutional acts. She further explains that these concrete expressions have a social nature and a two-fold quality (visible and invisible), showing that they belong to two worlds (sense and spirit). Human beings naturally employ rituals, signs and symbols in order to incarnate their response to God.
A problem inherent in expressing worship to a Being Who is wholly other-than, is that humans must use that-which-is-finite to express that-which-is-infinite. In his essay entitled “Transposition,” C. S. Lewis describes the difference in these two realities as the difference between hearing an orchestral piece as it was intended and then hearing it in its reduced state, played as a piano reduction. He observes “If the richer system is to be represented in the poorer at all, this can only be by giving each element in the poorer system more than one meaning.” Lewis’ observations describe well the process of Symbolic Action. In worship, humans employ words, objects and elements that have an original intent or meaning, and then inject an additional fresh or representative significance into them.
Liturgy almost always employs the use of sign and symbol. For purposes of definition, a sign usually points to something, does not look like what it represents, and may not be biblically based. It is something that indicates or expresses the existence of something else not immediately apparent. In other words, it points beyond itself, like the Nike stripe. When one sees the logo, one is reminded of either the slogan (“just do it”) or of the shoes themselves. Like the Bible, Church history is replete with the use of signs; as marks of affiliation (the fish), prayer (hands), resurrection (the phoenix bird) and baptism (the scallop shell), among many others. These signs referred to, or reminded people who knew the code, of a certain piece of information.
Alternately, a ‘symbol’ can be defined as something that stands in for or “represents something else, especially an object representing an abstraction.” Author John Burkhart maintains that while the sign bears no necessary relation to that to which it points, the symbol participates in “the reality of that for which it stands.” One may think of a symbol like a stunt-double: it stands-in for the real thing in order to represent the presence of that thing. Underhill believes that the importance of symbols is that they enable worshipers to “apprehend spiritual reality.” Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann proposes that the purpose and function of the symbol is not to illustrate but rather to manifest and to communicate what is manifested. Schmemann adds, “the symbol does not so much resemble the reality that it symbolizes as it participates in it, and therefore it is capable of communicating it in reality.”
Protestants have a natural discomfort with medieval piety, and many have little experience with the notion of symbolic acts. Yet, some acts are regularly present in many Protestant churches today. Biblically physical actions, like the lifting of hands (1 Tim 2:8) and the collection of alms (1 Cor 16:1,2) are utilized to various extents in many churches, as is the handshake, sometimes substituted for the passing of the peace of Christ. Both of these symbolic actions (handshake and passing of peace) may be an adaptation of the holy kiss (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20), which originally represented the exchange of pneuma (the Spirit of Christ in me greets the Spirit of Christ in you) in the early church.
Participation in Communion is also a symbolic act, and represents participation in the New Covenant (Luke 22:19). Additionally, the ritualistic use of water to baptize has historically referred variously to a bath (sanctifying), burial (destroying/redemption) or birth (salvation/life-giving). Biblical categories with references are as follows:
-A sign of repentance or ritual cleansing (Luke 3:3; 1 Cor 6:11)
-Preparation for the Messiah (John 1:23)
-A sign of belief (Col 2:12)
-Death to self (Rom 6:3-4)
-An escape from bondage (1 Cor 10:1-6)
-Unites to the death of Christ (Rom 6:3-4)
-New birth (John 3:5-7)
-Entrance into the new covenant (Col 2:12)
-Initiation into the Christian Community (1 Cor 12:13)
Symbolic Acts help to anchor the worship event between the “already” and the “not yet,” and characterizes the Christian gathering as a community of both memory and hope. Grenz believes one purpose of the Christian gathering was to “commemorate the foundational events of our spiritual existence, at the center of which is the action of God in Christ delivering humankind from the bondage of sin.” Corporate worship, then, uses symbolic actions to both remember (I Cor 11:25) and anticipate (I Cor 11:26), thus keeping God’s story in the forefront of the believer’s experience.
Worship Service Structure
Some theologians believe that there is to be an over-arching structure of the corporate worship event. Methodist Liturgist Don Saliers believes that the structure of corporate worship is best expressed through enactment. Byars agrees, adding that enactment is best conveyed in prayer around the Scriptures and the Table, suggesting that it is this Word-Table community that both glorifies God and ministers to the world. Robert Webber, too, contends that corporate worship is to be a “dramatic retelling” and “dramatic reenactment” of the Christ event. He emphasizes worship as participation in the Christ event, especially as celebration of Christ’s victory, rather than a memorial of his death. James White notes that “those first Christians found that it was in Word and Sacrament that God engaged them in all these [heart, soul, mind] dimensions.”
Research on corporate service structure will provide a perspective on the present design of the corporate Christian worship event. This research will include an historical summary of worship service structure, beginning with early Christian worship. It is generally agreed that the early Christian gathering can be characterized as a synthesis of both synagogue worship and the upper room experience. This new format of worship is known as Word-Table, and was practiced in the fellowships of both Jewish (Acts 2:42) and Gentile (Acts 20:7) Christians. In the Early Patristic era, the liturgy of the oft-persecuted believers can be summarized as follows: 1) Gather; 2) Read Scripture; 3) Instruct; 4) Pray; 5) Communion; 6) Collection for the poor. In the Late Patristic era the gathering and dismissal portions became more formalized, and were combined with the Word-Table system to form what Robert Webber terms “four-fold” worship, namely 1) Entrance; 2) Word; 3) Table; 4) Dismissal. In both Early and Late Patristic eras, the non-baptized believers (catechumens) were dismissed before Communion, as they were not allowed to participate in either the kiss of peace or the Eucharist.
In Medieval and Byzantine worship, the Divine Liturgy provided the structure and content of worship. In the West, Communion was divided into two parts: the consecration and the meal, of which most worshipers did not partake. The service, again, consisted of the Liturgy of Catechumens, and the Liturgy of the Faithful. Worship during this period was almost completely sacerdotal (priest-centered), effectively sidelining the people’s meaningful participation in corporate worship.
One goal of the Reformation period was to return worship to the people, and the use of music was a central avenue of congregational participation. Martin Luther was the first to glimpse the possibilities for church music. Theologically, music could enable that “full participation which belongs to the priesthood of the laity.” He envisioned a form of worship in which virtually everything but the sermon would be sung. In addition to corporate singing, Protestants participated in Communion on a monthly basis. In one sense, this was a vast increase from the yearly celebration of Catholic worshipers. On the other hand, the centrality of the Sermon overshadowed the sacraments, prompting the criticism of “sacramental impoverishment” from the Roman church. The basic Reformation service consisted of 1) Gathering; 2) Proclamation;
3) Remembrance/Thanksgiving; 4) Dismissal.
In reaction to both the rationalism of the Enlightenment, and to the formalized creeds of 17th century Protestantism, worship changed. The service format began to feature an appeal for a personal and public response to the Gospel, due largely the preaching of John Wesley and George Whitfield. This corporate re-emphasis continued to gain momentum during the First Great Awakening (c. 1720) in both Europe and America through the notoriety of George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards. The Second Great Awakening (c. 1787-1860), the Camp Meetings of the early 1800’s, the period of Dwight L. Moody & the Holiness Movement (c. 1870-1926), and the renewal of mass evangelism (1950s) characterized by Billy Graham, all contributed to the formation of a new paradigm for the corporate worship event. Byars laments that as the sermon became more prominent, the Lord’s Supper was effectively marginalized. The move away from the Word-Table format, as well as the reversal of the revelation-response cycle, has affected the Evangelical movement even to the present day.
Contextualization of the Ministry Problem
The design of this study is specific to the students in the MAWL program, who are typically non-liturgical, and are most accurately classified as “Free Church” in mentality and practice. The free-church movement purports to worship God freely, but originally, this meant to be free of state control. The modern movement rejects rigid structure, including the historic rituals of liturgical worship, and observation of the Christian church year. Hence, many of these students will have no overarching structure or framework from which to design worship
Another major influence on the program’s population is the university’s location in Southern California. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s a movement dubbed “The Jesus Movement” emerged, and was centered in the southwestern United States. The movement was heavily influenced by the anti-establishment sentiment of the hippie movement, and produced a huge number of Christians who rejected, and were not welcomed by, most mainline denominations. The Jesus movement developed a worship style that was influenced by Charismatic worship, but also combined with strong expositional Bible teaching. This “Singing and Sermon” format is sometimes followed with a strong call to conversion or personal application and response.
The resulting two-fold worship format resembles the Revivalist movement that developed from the 19th century Frontier camp meeting tradition, wherein music was used to prepare people to be receptive to a conversion sermon. Free-church worship, however, differs in that the opening song time is considered worship, and is often called the “worship-set,” rather than preparation for evangelism. This service format is widely identified as “Contemporary Worship.”
Several observations present themselves based on the evolution of corporate worship. The first is that the typical design of Contemporary Worship reverses the historical and biblical cycle of revelation-response by placing corporate singing prior to the sermon. This design works well for a revival, but does not make much sense in a service of worship. The result is that worshipers are asked to respond to God before hearing from or about God, thereby placing a huge burden on song content to function as revelation. One mutation of the two-fold service has been to design the worship set to correspond to various stages of emotional engagement. The usual proof text for this structure comes from a supposed worship progression found in Psalm 100: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise” (verse 4). Ronald Allen, however, takes issue with this interpretation. He argues: “There are NO stages to worship, as in Psalm 100. This is parallelism, not a recipe for worship! Worship is not a higher stage than praise. Praise is not a higher stage than giving thanks.”
A second observation has to do with the true corporate-ness of the contemporary worship event. Theologically, Protestants embrace the priesthood of the believer, but in practice, many churches marginalize these same believers except during select service elements such as singing, offering and monthly Communion. The culture’s affinity for entertainment has produced congregational worship that is often platform-based. Little effort is expended to make corporate prayer truly corporate, and the use of creeds and meditations is waning. The one exception, as noted before, is the nature of most contemporary worship songs, which tend to function as prayer. Unfortunately, there is often a narcissistic tendency to these songs, which has “often degenerated into celebrating the believer’s dedication to God.” White believes that corporate song has undergone a transformation, sensing that lyrics in the last 150 years have moved away from the objectivity of Watts and Wesley to a much more subjective, individualistic approach, singing in first person of one’s experience of Jesus or of one’s fervent anticipation of heaven. He quips that, in effect, Charles Wesley’s “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” has become “My Soul, Lover of Jesus.” Marva Dawn has succinctly addressed this misstep in her insistence that God be both the subject and the object of worship.
A third observation concerns the method of planning in many contemporary and Free Church worship services. Service planning often begins with a song list, rather than with a plan or framework, much akin to packing for a trip when you don’t know the destination. If one simply chooses songs that go well together but have no framework or purposeful direction, it is difficult to maintain that the service is designed to please God.
A final observation has to do with the future of the Church, and its ability to advance into Postmodernism. The marginalization of the Table, specifically, and sacred action in general, is probably a result of the Enlightenment’s effect on Christianity. Robert Webber made the astounding observation that the Enlightenment affected the church’s worship more than even the Reformation. Balance between the rational and the mystical has been lost! The sermon has eclipsed corporate action, the worship space has become a classroom, and logic has displaced symbol. Unfortunately, these Enlightenment practices present a mode of worship that is not compatible with the postmodern mindset. The Modern Church offers a style of worship based on rationalism, individualism and verbal communication, while the postmodern culture affirms mystery, community and symbolic communication.
Rather than attempt to change the two-fold pattern of Worship and Word, my endeavor will be to redefine the worship-set to integrate revelation into the singing phase of the service. Specifically, the design of the worship-set will be based on a scriptural outline, but will retain the feel of a “singing time.” It is hoped that a reorientation towards Scripture will take some of the emphasis off of both music style and cultural issues. Scripture is a common denominator among believers, and will allow intellectual, emotional and cultural engagement amongst a wider swath of people. Congregational response will include the various means of corporate worship discussed in this chapter. The design of the corporate worship-set will be judged qualitatively by the Kerygma (theological content) and Leitourgia (congregational actions such as Koinonia) included in the worship-set.
The Leading of Corporate Worship
The previous research focused on what a student must know in order to plan worship. I now turn to what the student must be and do in order to lead worship. In most churches, worship leading is an incredibly complex behavior. A primary ingredient for a worship leader is a genuine calling or anointing by God to lead the gathered believers in worship. Neither good design nor well-developed skills are an acceptable substitute for being chosen and empowered for ministry. Second, a worship leader must be both shepherd and theologian. Third, integrity and personal piety are central for a leader to be worthy of being followed. Fourth, one must have excellent presentation skills, so as to clearly and confidently lead the way without becoming a distraction. Concurrent with presentation skills, one must usually be an advanced musician, with practical skills in both vocal and instrumental music.
The University is often responsible for the training and preparation of worship leaders, and must address not only the design of corporate worship, but also the skills of worship leading. Skills-oriented education is best dispensed within a practicum type of framework. A worship leading practicum is difficult to design and measure because of the general subjectivity of ministry, and the fact that the classroom can be a sterile and uncomfortable place to develop and practice public ministry tools. Yet, the fundamental significance of the worship gathering demands that worship leaders are well prepared in heart, mind and soul.
David, himself a passionate worshiper, provides a relevant example of biblical leadership. The following Scripture concisely summarizes his life, and provides touch-points for this portion of this research. The Psalmist writes:
He also chose David His servant
And took him from the sheepfolds;
From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.
So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them with his skillful hands.
David’s calling, shepherding, integrity of heart and skillful hands create an inventory of traits that have relevance to the training of worship leaders. These characteristics produce a profile for the educator to cultivate in students. Further, David’s traits provide direction in researching the persona and skills of a well-prepared worship leader.
In his commentary on Psalm 78 (above), Derek Kidner notes that it is God’s “sovereignty of choice” that shines through by choosing David over the more famous Joseph and more powerful Ephraim. The calling of less-prominent and even reluctant individuals seems to be a pattern with God (e.g. Moses; Joshua, David). This calling, sometimes referred to as an anointing, is an intangible and indefinable power and ability to employ and rely upon the Holy Spirit for deeds that are beyond a person’s natural ability to accomplish. Some students will have received a deeply personal call from God to the worship leadership ministry. Others may have a gnawing or growing awareness that God is raising them up to serve the Body of Christ, perhaps through worship leading. Still others may be studying worship leading because they are Christian musicians, and this training sounds fun. Wherever students are on the spectrum, it is essential to emphasize the importance of being called by God into ministry.
A second important attribute for consideration is that of shepherding. A common notion in Evangelicalism defines the role of which we speak as the lead worshiper, rather than the worship leader. A lead worshiper does not actively lead, but rather, behaves as one of the congregation who just happens to be worshiping in front of others, perhaps hoping they will join in. Though the humility of this concept is admirable, the concept itself is neither biblical nor leadership. A leader without a destination is simply taking a walk. In contrast to this concept, the role of worship leader is a vocation unlike any other, where the mandate is to lead people through expressions and experiences that will immerse them into the very being of God. The vital job of shepherding is a central responsibility for the worship leader. Shepherding requires a leader to assume the role of priest, to be committed to the entire flock (Body of Christ), and to employ numerous leadership skills in the execution of this vocation.
The Role of the Priest
While Luther’s “priesthood of believers” is a commonly accepted Christian doctrine, there is at the same time a priestly role that worship leaders must assume. Worship leaders play a significant part in the divine encounter that happens in worship. They serve, Burge suggests, as the architects of worship, functioning as a type of mediator. They are to incarnate God to the people, and forge an atmosphere of the Divine. This role, however, is never exercised from a position of superiority, as all in the Body of Christ are equal. Leaders and followers alike are akin to clay pots, holding the treasure, rather than being the treasure (2 Cor 4:7). The leadership role is based on calling and gifting, rather than perceived spiritual accomplishment. Yet, a chain of command is both biblical and essential for people living in community with one another. It is also essential to the worship gathering, and David’s shepherding of Israel illustrates how God uses “under-shepherds” to oversee his followers.
Commitment to the Whole Church
Worship leadership also requires a commitment to the whole Body of Christ. Jesus modeled diversity in the choosing of his disciples, and prayed for the unity of all believers, knowing that both fellowship and evangelism would flow out of a harmonious community (John 17:20-21). Additionally, Paul described the Body of Christ not in a homogenous way, but rather, as being composed of old and young (Titus 2:2-6), rich and poor (1 Cor 11:21-22), varied giftedness (1 Cor 12), and mixed in every way (Gal 5:13). The stated goal of this variety is “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Cor 12:25). Homogeneity cripples the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:19), but unity verifies the truth and love of God (Jn 17:23).
If, therefore, unity in the midst of diversity is God’s design for the Church, why should worship leaders dare to target one age group, or use just one style of music? This model makes sense as an evangelistic tool where one particular population is targeted, but does not make sense for the corporate gathering of the Body of Christ. To employ a fishing analogy, some churches use only one kind of bait, hoping to catch one kind of fish. If they get more than one kind of fish, they either ignore them or put them into separate aquariums (services), rather than into the same tank. This model changes the intended complexion of the Church and robs people of experiencing the Body of Christ in its full range of giftedness. Further, it displaces the design of God with the preference of Man.
Mature worship leaders must temper stylistic preference and comfort with the needs of both the community and the mission of the Church. The strongest argument for merging the various means and styles of worship is that the Church is to be merged. It is in corporate worship that the reality of the Church’s unity is most often, and most effectively, lived out. Worship leaders, therefore, should provide numerous and diverse ways to express worship, so that believers and nonbelievers alike will be able to understand and experience Christ in the midst of the Church (1 Cor 14). The way of Christ is to have more concern for others than for self! There must be a “stripping away of self-engendered concerns” if a leader is to fulfill his or her role adequately. Selectivity, personal preference and radical individualism are contrary to life in the Body of Christ.
An examination of shepherding would be incomplete without including the resources and wisdom of the corporate business world. The following is a brief review of applicable principles from business leadership books. The first, StrengthsQuest, states that top achievers build on their talents. Though my goal is to develop leaders, rather than top achievers, several definitions and principles carried over to my area of interest. A talent was defined as “a naturally recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” A theme was, essentially a “group of similar talents.” This seemed relevant because of the multifaceted combination of musicianship, pastoral and public speaking skills that are employed in becoming a worship leader. A student with one skill group who is completely void of the accompanying skill group will not be successful in leading the Body of Christ in corporate worship, and will either have to utilize others, or serve in another position. I substituted “effective leaders” for the book’s “achievers” and gleaned these summary statements:
Leaders recognize and develop their talents into strengths.
Leaders apply their strengths in roles that best suit them.
Leaders invent ways to apply their strengths to their tasks.
A second leadership resource was Max DePree’s book Leadership is an Art. DePree was the CEO of Herman Miller, a Fortune 500 company. This book had some excellent exhortations regarding a leader’s need to work through others (an important concept when addressing the topic of worship teams or staff relations). While acknowledging the obligation to provide the services for which their organization has employed them, Mr. DePree also believes that why and how leaders get results is equally important. He defines the art of leadership as “liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible.” His comments are constantly sprinkled with respect for and inclusion of the individual.
DePree takes great care to define the responsibilities of a leader, but his best contribution to my research was found in his concept that a leader must be “abandoned to the strengths of others, of admitting that we cannot know or do everything.” This bears similarity to the biblical mandate given to pastors and teachers. Church leaders are not to do the work of the ministry, but rather, to equip or prepare God’s people to do it, so that the Body of Christ will be built up (Eph 4:11-13). This concept must be especially underscored to students who may be seeking a worship leadership position in order to satisfy their own desire to perform.
Because of the great and varied difficulties many Churches are experiencing in the area of worship, I researched the area of leading change. A book by that name addressed the causes of resistance to change, and how leaders can effectively overcome that resistance. Leading Change notes that change in societies and organizations is rare, and never comes readily. It suggests that change is usually a response to outside pressures, and is sometimes caused by social learning (or simple timing), but is rarely the result of leadership. It asserted that all organizations have “a predisposition to tradition and conservatism” or they would laps into chaos and collapse. The author’s formula for leading change begins with the leader convincing “the people with power of the rectitude of the proposed change.” Next, the leader must demonstrate how the proposed change is a “necessary step toward progress” as defined by those people with power. The author refers to this type of leadership as values-based leadership.
Values-based leadership has relevance to the training of worship leaders. The basis on which worship leaders institute change must be for the good and growth of the Body of Christ, rather than simply trying to keep pace with a constantly moving “cutting edge.” Maturing the Church must be our value and motivation, rather than change for personal taste or change for the sake of change. Leadership is a calling from God, and carries with it both a personal and a public obligation.
People can discern whether they are leaders simply by observing whether they are being followed. A following does not mean that they are a good leader; merely that they are a leader. A good leader is discerned by whether the followers get to the correct destination with the dignity with which God has imbued them. This type of leadership demands selflessness and a genuine love for those who follow.
Integrity of Heart
Personal piety is a third important attribute of the worship leader. It seems self-evident that a worship leader should at least qualify for the position of Elder, whether or not they are not included in a particular church’s governing body. In addition to demonstrating these attributes of overseers (1 Tim 3:2-7), it is essential that the worship leader be a true worshiper. Being a worshiper is indispensable because a worship leader is want to lead people to a place they themselves have not been. Both the preparation and leadership of corporate worship must be done in the power of God’s Spirit.
Personal piety is an attribute that is sometimes consigned to “older” or “monkish” Christians. Paul, however, dispels these thoughts by exhorting young Timothy to “let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim 4:12). It is also important to notice that piety cannot be granted or inherited; it must be cultivated. The singularly impious sons of both Aaron and Eli attempted to fill the priestly shoes of their fathers, but failed miserably, and with drastic consequences (Lev 10:13; 1 Sam 2:12).
Humility is often associated with piety, and is a key ingredient to godly leadership. John the Baptizer was a leader who knew how to attract a crowd (Mark 1:5). John’s greatest legacy may have been the way in which he deferred to Christ (at the height of his popularity), with the words “he must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Tozer captures both the function and attitude of humble leadership with this prayer:
Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Ride forward upon me as You rode into Jerusalem, mounted upon the donkey. Let me hear the people cry to You: “Hosanna in the highest”.
A final attribute to be explored in this research is that of the various worship leading skills. Skills alone will not make a good worship leader, yet without them, even the most sincere, pious and theologically sound leader will become a distraction to the worship event. The skills to which I refer are those words and gestures which direct worshipers through the various responses of corporate worship, including singing, praying, moving and meditating.
The ancient art of oratory is based on Aristotle’s text entitled Rhetoric, and includes three necessary ingredients for a successful presentation: ethos, pathos and logos. Research on the skills of worship leading will employ two of these terms to address the presentational skills necessary to the vocation of worship leading. For the purpose of teaching presentation skills, ethos will address the non-verbal communication skills, while pathos will speak to the verbal skills and style of the worship leader. Some may contend that these skills should flow naturally out of a humble and sincere heart, and may bristle at the thought of addressing the more physical issues of worship leading. Most, however, readily acknowledge the value of combining passion with skill. This action research project is concerned with developing excellent worship leaders who attain a high standard; therefore, we must consider ethos and pathos.
In the classical sense, ethos had to do with the perceived ethical character of the speaker: is the person believable? In the typical worship setting, the leader stands on a platform of some sorts, while the people sit in classroom fashion (in pews or chairs) on a level lower than the platform. This separation places the leader at what is termed “public distance,” wherein one’s gestures become more important and symbolic than at the closer “social” or “intimate” distances. This distance makes it more difficult for worshipers to judge whether the leader is believable, and certain adjustments must be incorporated into the leading of worship.
The face, eyes and hands, for example, are key points that communicate both authenticity and sincerity. Students need to ascertain whether they are perceived as authentic and sincere, since distance distorts certain visual cues. Also, some leaders display a disconnect between what is in the heart and what is communicated physically. John Wesley calls this the “silent language” that must be “well adjusted to the subject, as well as to the passion which you desire either to express or excite.” Therefore, poise, facial expression, eye contact and room coverage are elements that must be considered in educating towards the ethos of an aspiring worship leader.
The “close” phase of public distance is approximately twelve to twenty-five feet, and is more suited to informal gatherings, while the “far” phase of public distance, twenty-five feet or more, resembles most worship settings. At this distance, postural shifts are as important as spoken directives, and both speech and movement must be in agreement with one another. A postural shift involves at least half the body, and signals the end of a section or a response. Effective worship leaders anticipate these natural breaks as they lead people toward the appropriate and desired responses.
Gesture, social distance and posture are very cultural expressions, and communicate different meanings to different People groups. Still, gestures seem to be a universal tool (even if the meanings differ), and are often divided into two categories. Notational gestures are gestures that communicate, and are entwined closely with speech. They are a visual, kinesthetic type of movement that serves to undergird what is being said. Referential gestures have more to do with signaling than with speech. These gestures give direction or illustration, and are an asset when conducting worship at the public distance. The more that can be communicated by gesture, the less verbal direction the worship leader will need to give, thereby lessening possible distraction.
The term pathos provides a platform from which discuss the verbal skills necessary for effective worship leadership. The term generally refers both to what people feel and to the persona, role or character the leader plays. It never refers to manipulating or toying with people’s emotions. Rather, it deals with personalizing the message so that others can respond. Pathos is the synthesis of both cognitive and affective (emotional) response. What is said and how it is said combine to form a bridge on which the listening mind and receiving heart can encounter one another, thereby stimulating physical response such as singing, praying and moving.
Worshipers are usually able to discern whether a leader’s life and message are in harmony with one another. Therefore, material must be mastered, so that one’s passion and confidence will encourage others to follow. Stammering and meandering show a lack of preparation and respect for this priestly role, and no one wants to follow a leader who is uncertain, or worse, lost. Second, since the worship leader must love the people he or she is shepherding, they should look at them when leading (many worship leaders shut their eyes while leading, either to demonstrate focus, or because they are caught-up in their own experience). Visually, leaders should not merely sweep the room, though this is preferable to staring down at notes. Rather, they should pick individuals to speak to, and complete a thought with that one person. Third, worship leaders should use a tone of speaking that is pastoral and inviting. Mastery of good microphone technique is necessary in this regard, and must be taught and practiced. While tone is important, it must not become a tool to manipulate. It is not the responsibility of leaders to make God look good or verbally excite worshipers. Rather, the authentic presentation of revelation, united to the appropriate response, is all that is needed of a worship leader.
It is imperative that the worship leader has a well-developed theology of the essentials of Christian worship. The history and development of Christian worship throughout the last two millennium have affected current style and tradition, and the savvy leader will use this historical perspective to evaluate and adjust to trends in worship that are not biblically or theologically sound. An understanding of why Christians gather is essential to the concept of congregational action and response, and is integral to the design of specifically corporate worship. Finally, the worship leader must prepare and practice until their persona and skill-set produce a synergy that is both contagious and empowering.
METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
Methods Used to Teach the Objectives
The problem this study sought to address was how to teach worship leadership students the planning and leadership skills of corporate worship in the Evangelical tradition. Each of the six class sessions began with an instructor-led corporate worship time, based loosely on the three-fold monastic model of Praise, Scripture and Prayer. This model allowed me, as instructor, to expose students to a more interactive and varied type of corporate worship. During this time, I modeled the revelation-response cycle of worship, the interweaving of Scripture and music, and transitions into and out of various corporate non-musical responses.
Objectives were developed which guided both the instruction and the evaluation portions of the class, and were categorized according to “Design” and “Delivery” objectives. The specific methods of class instruction regarding these objectives are outlined below.
In order to design worship that was uniquely corporate, students were taught to identify and discuss the philosophy and dynamics of both personal and corporate worship. This differentiation began from a discussion question that asked “Why should I come to church when I can worship just fine at home?” Following the class discussion, a lecture was presented which outlined the uniqueness of the Christian gathering, and which offered biblical and theological imperatives for corporate worship. The lecture material was gleaned from the corresponding research presented in chapter two of this thesis, and was often used as a benchmark for the student’s service designs.
Students were challenged to identify and apply the various biblical responses that have historically been employed in corporate worship. Grenz’s “means of worship” were presented, and each category of response (music, declaration, prayer, symbolic acts) was discussed from the viewpoint of how to make these responses truly corporate. Added to his section on symbolic acts (sacraments) were the various postures and movements the Bible mentions regarding worship, including standing, bowing, giving, clapping, kneeling, lifting hands and dancing.
The revelation-response communication cycle was presented as a biblical and theologically appropriate pattern of worship. Students were provided five basic outlines of worship-sets to serve as an example, and were required to purchase a text (written by the instructor) containing 100 scriptural worship plans (Roadmaps for Daily Worship). Students designed brief congregational-based worship-sets (or portions) based on the pattern of revelation and response. For additional practice, students planned and presented a variety of service segments as a class with the instructor, and in groups of three and four. Planning was evaluated both on the utilization of the revelation-response pattern, and on the true corporate-ness of their design.
A worship-leading practicum was implemented so that students would have the opportunity to apply class instruction to real-world situations. Six individual assignments and two group assignments were designed for students to complete during the course of the class. The venue, purpose and focus of each practicum were varied, in order to provide maximum church application. In each session, students prepared a micro-worship-set into which a variety of skills were incorporated. These skills included the preparation of sheet music, media (PowerPoint), musicians, scripts and media cue-sheets. Students were taught a battery of presentational skills so that they were able to execute, analyze and evaluate themselves and others. Non-verbal skills such as poise, facial expression and eye contact, were discussed. This discussion explained that distance makes the use of gestures more important, and a differentiation was made between notational gestures (which communicate) and referential gestures (which signal). Verbal skills such as fluidity, confidence and tone were taught and practiced. Style and microphone technique were also discussed and practiced. All of the presentational (verbal and non-verbal) skills were accompanied by video examples.
Students then demonstrated the various presentational skills by leading the micro-worship-set in front of both the class and the video camera. The music in these sets was abbreviated in order to save time. Students were encouraged to demonstrate significant progress in the mastery of the presentational skills. To this end, students evaluated each other daily with written and oral comments. Additionally, each student received a viewing evaluation in which the student and instructor viewed the student’s video-taped micro-worship-set together, for the purpose of identifying the presence or absence of particular skills and components. Verbal and written feedback was provided to each student.
Research Design, Implementation, and Data Collection
It was determined that an action research design would be an effective way to evaluate the teaching of design and delivery skills. In the planning phase of this project, I detected that most worship leaders (in the free-church tradition) design song-based (rather than content-based) worship, and that their service was often platform-based, rather than congregation-based. Further, I observed a paucity of training opportunities, wherein a student could practice the skills of worship leading (standing up in front of a crowd and speaking, praying, leading singing, transitioning and gesturing with the purpose of guiding others along a pre-determined path in the paying of homage to God).
I embedded this action research project into a preexisting class by developing a worship leading practicum. The instrumentation employed to measure progress included interviews, pre/post-class testing, an anonymous student questionnaire, and a pre/mid/post-class video-practicum. The design of the corporate worship-set was measured quantitatively by the Kerygma (theological content), and the Leitourgia (congregational actions) included in the worship-set. The delivery of the corporate worship-set was measured qualitatively by the specific skills assigned to the categories of Ethos, Pathos and Klerikoi (conducting the community’s actions).
On day one, each student was interviewed to ascertain denominational affiliation, present church setting, and previous worship leading experience. A pre-class test was administered to ascertain each student’s ability to articulate a theology of corporate worship, and to discern their grasp of important terms and criteria related to worship leadership. These answers were compared to the results of a similar test administered on the last day. At the end of day one, each student was videotaped as they led a service segment. This segment was assessed using an evaluation form designed for the class, in order to provide a baseline of their presentational skills.
On day three or four, in conjunction with each student’s viewing evaluation, I completed a written evaluation of their progress (or lack thereof), using the previously mentioned evaluation form. On day six, a final worship-set was led and videotaped, to demonstrate the integration of both design and delivery skills. This tape was assessed and compared to the two previously mentioned micro-worship-sets. Finally, students completed an anonymous questionnaire wherein they could provide suggestions and criticisms of the class and instructor, as well as underline the things that worked well for them.
Population of the Study
Eight students participated in the worship leading practicum. Seven of the students were enrolled in the MAWL program, while the eighth was a Master of Divinity student, preparing to be a church-planter. There were two male and six female students, ranging in age from the early twenties to the late forties. Racially, the class consisted of three Caucasian students, three Korean Immigrants (English as a second language), one Asian American and one student from Kenya, Africa. The students identified themselves with the following denominational affiliations: three non-denominational; two Methodist or Wesleyan; one Presbyterian; one Pentecostal; one Catholic. Seven of the students possessed reasonable musical skills, while one was a non-musician. Three students were currently leading worship; three led sporadically or had previous experience; one had no experience; one is unknown (missing data). Two students played piano and guitar; two
played piano; two played guitar; one unknown (did not play during the class); one non -musician. The following table compiles the individual students’ profiles:
Stu Student Gender Race Major Age Affiliation Employment Experience
A M Caucasian MAWL Late 20’s Non-Denom H.S. Choral Sporadic
B F Caucasian MDiv Early 20’s Non-Denom Youth Pastor None
C M Korean Immigrant MAWL Late 40’s Korean Presbyterian Worship Leader Extensive
D F Korean Immigrant MAWL Early 20’s Korean Methodist Youth Leader Sporadic
E F Caucasian MAWL Early 40’s Wesleyan Clerical Worship Coordinator
F F Kenyan Immigrant MAWL Late 20’s Pentecostal Substitute Teacher Sporadic
G F Asian American MAWL Early 20’s Non-Denom Student Sporadic
H F Korean Immigrant MAWL Early 20’s Catholic Student Song-leader
Analysis of Data
In chapter four of this thesis, I will present and analyze the data resulting from the aforementioned tests, videos and questionnaires, in order to determine the effect and value of my intervention. The pre-class test consisted of five questions pertaining to the design of corporate worship, and five questions pertaining to criteria and terms of worship leadership. Each question was worth a maximum of five points, and was graded according to the comprehensive nature of a student’s answer. Scores were determined, and will be compared to the student’s post-class test results. The numerical change in each student’s score will be noted, presented on a graph, and integrated into a class average in chapter four of this thesis, to determine the effect of this intervention.
Data from the anonymous questionnaire will be compiled into a document combining all of the student’s answers to each question. Questions 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 were basically yes/no questions, and will be presented as written. Questions 4, 6 and 8 solicited suggestions and impressions, and will be summarized.
Video data was gathered by utilizing a numerical evaluation sheet, designed from the course content and based on the class objectives. The design score was given according to the incorporation of discernable content (25 points) and congregational action (20 points). The delivery score was awarded based on each student’s use of verbal (20 points), non-verbal (20 points), and stylistic presentation skills (15 points). This score was based on a spectrum that utilized descriptive terms. The scores from the first, third, and sixth day’s video evaluation forms will be noted, presented on a graph, and integrated into a class average in chapter four of this research paper to determine the effect of the intervention stated herein.
Presentation of Data
This project was initiated by a desire to effectively train the next generation of worship leaders. Releasing students to learn their worship leading skills on a congregation, with little more than book knowledge, seemed to minimize the importance of the role. To this end, an instrument was developed to teach and measure the skills of the design and delivery of corporate a worship-set. The training instrument took the form of a worship leading practicum, in which quantitative and qualitative data was collected. In this chapter, the data will be presented, illustrated on a graph, and integrated into a class average, in order to determine the effect of the intervention stated herein.
To address the question of how to teach the design and content of corporate worship, students were tested on their ability to articulate the theological purposes of the Christian gathering, and on the communication cycle of revelation-response. The pre-test provided a baseline against which each student’s progress could be compared. Each student improved his or her test score in this particular area except student “C.” Overall, the class improved by a factor of 16%. Each student’s progress is shown below.
To address the question of how to teach the delivery of the service content, a written test examined the student’s criteria for judging a worship-set and a worship leader. Again, the pre-test provided a baseline against which each student’s progress could be compared. Every student improved his or her test score in this area. Overall, the class improved by a factor of 27%. Each student’s progress is shown below.
Anonymous Student Survey
Data, alone, is not sufficient to inform the effectiveness of this intervention. It was decided that anonymous student input would be invaluable to the questions this research project is attempting to answer. Question number one on the survey asked whether the class was a safe place to wonder, question, explore and discuss. Seven of eight students responded, stating that they felt safe. “Encouraged” was a word that surfaced in several answers. Question two asked whether the practicum sessions were a safe place to work on worship leading skills. All answered with a strong affirmative. Question three inquired as to the value of video as a tool for feedback and evaluation. All students felt that the video feedback was helpful. One student suggested that they needed more than two viewing-evaluations.
Question four solicited ideas for improving the practicum experience. One student suggested that the final practicum be moved to a church. One student would like to have received their videotapes on a daily basis, while another would liked to have received daily written feedback from the instructor, stating that classmates’ feedback was “too kind.” Another student suggested that the practicum be more targeted to their individual worship setting (only half were targeting the student’s own setting).
Question five asked whether the student felt equipped in the design and delivery of corporate worship. Four students responded with an unqualified affirmative, while the other students felt more equipped than before, but not ready for every situation they might face. Question six solicited input regarding additional topics the students would like to have addressed. One student would like to have been directed to be more intentional on particular areas of self-improvement. A second student thought the class was too short. A third student suggested the integration of cultural aspects, especially leading in another language.
Question seven asked for student impressions of the professor in the areas of knowledge, preparation, and approachability. All students felt the professor satisfied these descriptions. Question eight solicited overall impressions of the class. The word practical was used or inferred by six students. The non-musical student felt the class was “great, especially for a non-music person.”
Analysis of Video Data
The video-practicum was at the heart of this action research project, and revealed whether the student’s skills grew proportionately to their knowledge. The design portion of the practicum discerned more than mere content. Students were challenged to incorporate the content and congregational response into their micro-worship-set at a discernable level. In other words, the content not only had to be present, but also observable in the presentation. Students were provided with both a plan and a specific set of objectives for each practicum, and a point-value was assigned to the various elements. On day one, with no prior instruction, the class scored an average of 40% on the design of what was considered an excellent worship-set. On day three, the class average increased to 62%, even though the number of skills and requirements increased. On the final day, the class scored an average of 90%, representing an overall increase of 50% from day one. The chart below presents the statistics for each individual student.
Presentational skills were taught and evaluated throughout the practicum, and students incorporated them to the best of their abilities. Verbal, non-verbal and stylistic skills were evaluated and scored from each student’s micro-worship-set. On day one, the class averaged 52% of what were considered excellent presentational skills. On day three, the class increased their average to 60%. On the final day, the class average increased to 92%, representing an overall improvement of 40%. The following chart presents the statistics of each individual student.
Summary of Data
Evaluation of each student’s progress was measured according to the questions this research project seeks to answer. The student’s design of corporate worship was measured quantitatively by measuring the increase of knowledge through testing, and by measuring the number of congregational responses included in the service design. The delivery of corporate worship was measured qualitatively by evaluating each student’s presentational skills on a spectrum that utilized descriptive terms. Anonymous student input was gathered to furnish perspective and effectiveness of the intervention.
Summary of the Project
As a university teacher, I noticed that there was no skills-oriented curriculum that prepared students for the complex job of worship leader. Two questions, in particular, drew me to design an action research project investigating the training of worship leaders. The first question explored how to teach the design of the corporate worship-set. Specifically, I wanted to teach students to design content-based (rather than song-based) worship-sets, and congregation-based (rather than platform-based) worship response. The second question considered how to teach the delivery skills of the corporate worship-set. There seemed to be paucity in the college curriculum where students could learn and practice the skills of preparation and presentation necessary to successful worship leading.
A lab-style class was conceived that would address the training needs of potential worship leaders. Students in the Master of Arts in Worship Leadership program at Azusa Pacific University were taught and encouraged to utilize the revelation-response communication cycle in their planning. Participants were also exposed to a plethora of biblical and historical corporate worship responses, and were urged to design worship-sets that included an ever-increasing number of these responses.
Included in the class was a video-practicum, wherein students would have the opportunity to try their worship-set designs on their fellow classmates. Students prepared and led a micro-worship-set in each session of the six-day class. The music was abbreviated in these sets in order to save time. Each student received both written and oral feedback, and two video viewing evaluations. Data was collected through the use of written testing, video comparison, and student survey, and was presented in chapter four of this document.
Conclusions Drawn from the Data
Written test-results suggest that students improved their understanding of corporate worship, both in philosophy and design. Students expanded their knowledge of the content and design of corporate worship by a factor of 16% over the course of the six-day class. Additionally, written test-results suggest that the class developed specific criteria for evaluating both the worship leader and worship leading. The class augmented their understanding of this criteria by a factor of 27%.
Video data indicates additional significant improvement. The design requirements of this study demanded that students not only have significant content in their micro-worship-sets, but that the content also be discernable. The class improved their observable service content by an average of 50%. The presentational skills were evaluated by assessing verbal, non-verbal and stylistic elements. The video data indicates that students increased their ability to direct a group of people through a battery of corporate responses by an average of 40%.
Anonymous student input was solicited and seems to endorse this curriculum as an effective tool for the training of worship leaders. All participants said that the class was a safe place to work on their worship leading skills, and specifically mentioned the video feedback as being very helpful. All students affirmed that they felt more equipped in the design and delivery of corporate worship to some degree, while half the class was unqualified in their endorsement. Two words that surfaced from students in this survey were “practical” and “encouraged.”
This action research project sought to develop an effective curriculum to teach content-based worship design, centering on the cycle of revelation-response. Further, this project sought to help students develop the preparation and presentation skills of corporate worship leadership. The written, video and anonymous data collected seem to indicate the usefulness of this type of skills-oriented class. In every case, the amount of improvement was statistically significant, indicating the success of this intervention.
Improvements and Recommendations
When analyzing the data, I noticed several inconsistencies in the collection of the data, which I will delineate here. On the written tests, I was seeking theological answers to the “design” questions, but, upon further examination, noticed that I had not stated the questions in a manner that made that clear. Also, three of the questions (7, 8, 9) were not written in a specific enough manner. I was asking about abilities in question eight, but some students gave these answers in question seven. Question nine was an inquiry as to function, but this was not stated clearly. Question ten was a poor question, and needs to be changed. Finally, the administration of the pre-class and post-class test was not consistent, as I explained each question at the first examination, but simply handed-out the test for the second examination.
I suggest several improvements to the evaluation of the practicum itself. One inconsistency is in the comparison of the various video presentations. Since each practicum increased in difficulty, a comparison to earlier presentations was not completely valid. A second suggestion is in response to the significance of video-feedback. This class should include daily video-feedback, wherein each student, upon completion of their micro-worship-set, immediately takes their tape into a viewing evaluation. The evaluation sheet also needs further refinement. There was nowhere on the evaluation sheet to score the preparation of the worship-set. Also, “tone” and “pace” need to be added to the section on “style.”
The importance of the role of worship leader in the Evangelical church today necessitates a practical, skills-oriented class as a part of the worship leadership curriculum. The opportunity for students to experiment with the design and delivery of corporate worship will contribute to a student’s success in serving the Church, and will perhaps prevent a myriad of mistakes by the novice worship leader. Additionally, the role that worship plays in the discipleship of the Body of Christ will be effectual, as the Church’s concept of God is elevated and experienced corporately.
TIME WED THUR FRI
Hour 1 Class Worship Class Worship Class Worship
:15 Profiles of a W.L.
:30 Introductions Ethos – non-verbal Means of Worship:
Syllabus – Video examples Music & Declare
Hour 2 Pre-class Written Assessment Prep – Group Pract 1 Group Pract 2
Plan a worship-set
:15 Revelation-Response Present I lead thru
Grp Pract 1
:30 Why Gather? Pathos
:45 David’s Example -Video – Leslie
Hour 3 Practicum Intro Shepherding Prep Pract 3
:15 Prep Practicum 1 Tape Practicum
:30 Tape Practicum Prep Pract 2
Hour 4 Viewing Evaluations
:30 Debrief Roadmaps
Show Past Videos
:45 Assign Pract 2 Assign Pract 3 Assign Pract 4
TIME SAT MON TUE
Hour 1 Class Worship Class Worship Class Worship
:30 Means of Worship: Roadmaps Prep Final Practicum
Prayer & Actions
:45 Final Practicum
Hour 2 Klerikoi Convergence in Worship
:15 Grp Pract 2 – Game
:45 Leading Gently Forward
Hour 3 Prep Pract 4 Sidelite/Catch up Post-Class Written Evaluation
:15 Tape Practicum WL Survey Results
:30 Class Evaluations
:45 Prep Pract 5
Hour 4 Viewing Evaluations
:45 Assign Pract 5 Assign Pract 6 Debrief
PROFILES IN WORSHIP LEADING
•A Worship Leader Is Like A Nature Guide. . .
When people go on a nature walk, they rightly assume certain things about their guide. They suppose, for example, that he or she is a naturalist; that their love of Nature has spawned their knowledge and experience. Nature walks are much more engaging when the leader is excited to share with others the joy that they have encountered on the path. Also important is the sense that the guide has traveled the path many times before, and is very familiar with it. It is unnerving to perceive your leader to be tentative, or worse, lost. Moreover, it is expected that the guide has planned the route with the group in mind, rather than for his or her own personal enjoyment. In any group there is a wide variety of knowledge and experience, as well as a good deal of misconception. A good leader should try to anticipate his protégés’ needs, while at the same time staying open to going another way.
Finally, the guide shouldn’t get so caught up in his or her own enjoyment of the trail that they forget others are following them. A leader’s attention must envelop both the path and the people, so that the people’s attention can be on Nature. A Nature Guide’s primary aspiration is to educate and empower others. This is the difference between leading a walk and taking a walk.
The difference in being a worship leader:
•Divided attention; not as satisfying . . .
•Takes more knowledge, depth, preparation
Can’t take someone; personal time needed. . .
•Against current trend of singing only
•A Lead Worshiper Is Like The Palm Sunday Donkey. . .
The Palm Sunday Donkey? That’s right! A Lead Worshiper has the same job that the Palm Sunday donkey had. His job was to deliver Jesus to the people. No one recalls the donkey’s training or lineage. No one knows if he ever carried another VIP, or whether he got big and strong. This donkey merely delivered the Messiah to his worshipers and then sank back into obscurity.
Yes! The donkey was at the celebration. He heard the shouts of “Hosanna in the highest!” but never thought the people were yelling for him. He stepped on the palms and cloaks, which had been spread out for the Christ, but drew no personal honor from it. The donkey was center stage and was serving Jesus in his area of giftedness, but never expected special treatment. Though Isaiah had prophesied his presence that day, the donkey’s name is not even recorded. He was just able, available, and privileged to be used; it was all about Jesus!
The good stuff about being a lead-worshiper:
•Any able person can do it.
•Inherant closeness to the Savior
•Working within your giftedness
•Humility – all about Jesus
•The people did not need instruction; they already knew
and recognized Christ from the prophecies.
•The people already knew how to respond (Ps. 118)
A Worship Entertainer is like a Cheer Leader. . .
Cheer Leaders must position themselves between the spectators and the game in order to be clearly seen. They function and dress as though they were the main attraction, but they don’t actually play the game. Rather, they perform an auxiliary function to which people have grown accustomed. Cheer Leaders are able to create an air of excitement even when the star player is not in the game.
Effective Cheer Leaders provide constant activity, and are especially entertaining when things get slow. Silence and down time trouble them, so they do their best to fill each lull with action. They shout phrases like “c’mon, get into it”, “let’s make some noise,” and “give it up.” Their success is measured by the intensity of the crowd’s involvement.
In essence, a successful Cheer Leader enables the crowd feel a part of the game merely by watching it. As they participate in the cheers, they can have the illusion of actually contributing to the game. Cheer Leaders don’t have to have played the game themselves, or even understand it well in order to do a good job. They just have to be perky!
Be exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please You,
even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be
forgotten as a dream.
Rise, O Lord, into your proper place of honor: above my ambitions;
above my likes and dislikes; above my family; above my health.
Above even my life itself. Let me decrease that You may
increase. Let me sink that You may rise above.
Ride forward upon me as You rode into Jerusalem mounted upon the
humble donkey. Let me hear the people cry to You “Hosanna in
the highest.” -Tozer
LEADING GENTLY FORWARD
The Spirit of God is blowing worship in a new direction. “Newness” is commanded in Scripture (Ps 98:1) and is a natural part of life (Eccle. 3:1-8). Why, then, is newness so difficult and divisive, especially for the older people in our congregations?
When considering this question, I realized that no generation in the history of mankind has undergone the change that our older people have gone through. They have gone from horse travel to space travel; kerosene to atomic energy; Farmer’s Almanac to the home computer. Their world has changed from rural to urban, and from agricultural to mechanized.
The values of a past generation have deteriorated from a Victorian morality and code of conduct to an “anything goes” mentality where tolerance is the sole and ultimate virtue. Since these folks are living longer than any in the past, they are experiencing the prolonged deterioration of their bodies, and with it a diminished sphere of control and influence. Coupled with this is the breakdown of the family unit, and the value placed on production rather than wisdom.
Like all of us, these people need some stability in life. So they grab their same Bible and come to the same church to hear an unchanging message about an unchanging God. But wait! The preacher has a new translation of the Bible, and the music director is singing new songs (with drums no less!). How frustrating this must be!
A good shepherd knows his flock. He leads forward at a gentle pace that the vast majority can maintain. As he leads, he should continually check on the progress of the flock. He must stop periodically to rescue those who have fallen behind. Inevitably, he must make the tough decision to leave behind some who refuse to be rescued, so that the flock can move on to “greener pastures and stiller waters.”
The “flock” is really the Body of Christ, meaning that each part has value and function. To worship next to someone who has known God for sixty years is an experience that cannot be had in a specific age-group ministry. Still, a worship leader must lead forward and must ask the hard questions: “Do young people feel like they are at a strictly adult function when attending the worship service? Do older people feel like they are at a pep rally?” One must consider all parts in the planning when designing worship for the Body of Christ .
The acceptance and appreciation of the best of many styles is appropriate and necessary in the Body of Christ. Teaching people about worship is one way to soften the sting of change and to prepare them for the addition of new things. This means teaching people the concepts of worship; mixing the styles of music; and including different learning styles. If a people’s appreciation of change grows stale, they will soon only appreciate stale things.
ROADMAPS FOR WORSHIP – TO FRAME A SONG
A man and a young girl were scavenging along a rural road next to a railroad crossing. I drive this road often, and ordinarily would not have noticed them at all. This time, however, I remembered reading in the newspaper that a woman and her four children were killed there when their station wagon stalled on the tracks; they were survived by a husband and one child.
An upper middle-class girl who was raised with “good food and a view” decides to take a chance and go to Mexico with her church group. She spends a week ministering in the migrant camps to very poor people. She then flies home and finds herself sitting on the deck overlooking the valley, eating gourmet food. She is suddenly repulsed by a familiar lifestyle which was exactly the same as she left it.
A frame of reference can lend meaning to the ordinary and significance to the familiar. A person’s frame of reference even affects their appreciation of music. Memories, experiences, and associations, as well as the intrinsic beauty and craftsmanship of a particular song, all play a part in the effect and appreciation of music. A simple chorus which soothes one’s pain may be more potent than the most powerful song. Conversely, a powerful song might lose its potency when the lifestyle of the singer associated with that song disgraces its message. Much depends upon what the individual brings to that song: their frame of reference.
Good worship-leaders consistently provide frames of reference for their worshippers. The goal is two-fold: 1) to lend meaning to new songs; and 2) to rekindle the significance of familiar songs. I would like to discuss three different types of framing being used today, as well as to present an optional fourth.
I once heard a song that said “we get lifted up when we praise.” It was a good song with a catchy calypso beat, and although I believe in the principle, I questioned the need to sing about it. That is, until I sat across the table from the man who wrote it. I heard a story of an auto wreck; of sons being maimed and killed; of God giving the strength to praise in the midst of tragedy; of a song given as a reminder.
Perhaps the reader is familiar with the story of the great hymn “It Is Well.” A home and a city are destroyed by fire; shipping one’s family to England during the rebuilding; shipwreck, loss, and death; a great song testifying of God’s peace.
Stories are a wonderful way to draw worshippers in. They transport people from daily routine to God-consciousness. Stories provide understanding and insight, as well as an opportunity to teach without preaching. The use of stories, however, is limited in that they can be told only once to the same people; after that they lose their impact and effectiveness. Unless one is a traveling song leader, the use of stories to provide a frame of reference in worship is limited and should not be overdone.
Repetition creates an instantaneous frame of reference as the song is experienced. The slow and constant turning-over of a thought or idea is a form of meditation. Although the practice of meditation has been relegated largely to the Eastern religions, Christians are commanded to meditate on “anything excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Repeating a song or chorus allows the words to sink in, giving time for the mind to engage and the heart to respond.
Excessive repetition, however, is not a good thing. Too much repetition can cause the mind to check out and the emotion to take control. The reader should understand that emotion is not evil: it was created by God and pronounced good. Emotion is an appropriate response to truth, but its presence is no guarantee of the Spirit’s work. The fine line between corporate meditation and corporate manipulation makes discernment necessary. The endless song, like the endless altar call, may say more about a leader’s expectations than about the Spirit’s work.
A third frame of reference involves the use of traditional music. The Church has inherited a repertoire of wonderful music providing both a legacy from the past and an aspiration for the future. Traditional hymnody has stood the test of time. To study the hymns of Watts and Wesley is to study theology. Strength of text combined with appropriate musical setting have combined to transcend both culture and generation.
A second type of traditional music might better be termed “traditionalist.” This is the music of a culture or ethnicity: the music of shared experience. Its strength (frame of reference) is a set of common memories. An inherent weakness in traditionalist music lies in the tendency of people to revere or sanctify a particular style of music because of the bonds and feelings which accompany it. In a worship seminar a man asked me how one could “sing anything better than the good ol’ hymns.” I answered “When one sings the words of Scripture verbatim, regardless of the tune or setting.”
I would like to introduce a fourth way of incorporating frames of reference as a way of lending meaning and rekindling significance in singing. I call this method “Roadmaps™.” It uses Scripture as a guide for worship, and by definition provides a frame of reference for singing. One type of road map is topical worship. Topical worship uses a theme, such as the attributes of God, to unify a package of songs (Majesty, Holy, Holy, Awesome God, A Mighty Fortress).
A second type of road map is verse worship. Verse worship not only leads people in worship, but also teaches them how to use Scripture for worship in their own devotional times. For example, Isaiah 6 provides verse by verse instruction for entering the presence of God (v.1-2 His presence, v.3 His worship, v.4-5 Our unworthiness, v.6-7 His cleansing).
A third type of road map is called pathway worship. Pathway worship provides the worshipper with a map or blueprint for worship. The use of acronyms like A.C.T.S. (adoration; confession; thanksgiving; supplication), and designs like the layout of the temple (outer court, inner court, holy of holies) provide Scripture-based guidance for both corporate and individual worship.
In this fourth approach, Scripture provides the frame of reference. Where tastes in worship music differ, the “Roadmaps™” approach brings unity because focus is placed upon the Word of God. This type of guided worship provides a frame of reference which can incorporate music from many generations.
Scripture provides limitless and repeatable frames of reference for worship. God-given emotional responses to truth and beauty are never far away from the standard of God’s Word, and Spirit-filled worship is more easily discerned. Scriptural frames of reference use music to deliver the revelation of God to the worshipper and the worshipper to the presence of God, rather than relying upon style or familiarity. Finally, God’s Word has God’s guarantee of success: “My Word shall not return void” (Isaiah 55:11).
CONVERGENCE IN WORSHIP
I. A Convergent View of God
A. Justice & mercy
B. The Trinity
C. Transcendence and imminence.
II. A Convergent Response
A. Great Commandment (Matt 22:37)
Heart, Soul and mind.
B. Fear and love
Deut 4:24 & Deut. 6:4-5
III. A Convergent Use of Old and New
A. I Thes. 5:21 = Hold on to that which is good
B. Psalm 96:1 = Sing to the LORD a new song.
Psalm 96:6-7 = employs an old song.
IV. A Convergent Use of Spirit and Truth
A. John 4:23-24
1. God actually seeks worshipers!
2. Scripture is for the heart as well as
V. A Convergent of Corporate and Individual
A. Individual – I Cor 14:26
B. Corporate – I Peter 2:9-10
1. Notice the descriptions are plural
VI. A Convergent Use of Diversity
A. What kind of music should we use?
B. Tendency is to relate to music from adolesence
C. Style is an unworthy measuring stick!
D. Culturally, music is an unworthy God.
E. Reorient our people away from music as the sole
definition of worship.
VII. How to Face Transition in a Balanced Way?
A. A Convergent Use of Form and Style – Eph 5:19
3. Spiritual songs
B. A Community Spirit of Worship
1. Col 3:12-17
2. Phil 2:1-11
IX. The Overarching Principle
A. A Commitment to Unity – Eph 4:3
B. A Commitment to Evangelism – John 17:23
Pre-Class Written Assessment
Design of Corporate Worship
1. What makes Christian worship distinctive (as opposed to any other worship)?
2. Why should Christians gather to worship (as opposed to worshiping alone)?
3. Describe the differences between individual worship and corporate worship?
4. Do your best to define the communication cycle of Revelation-Response.
5. List as many corporate worship responses (means of worship) as possible.
Delivery of Corporate Worship
6. List some of the criteria you use to judge a worship-set.
7. List the personal qualities you consider essential for a Worship Leader to possess.
8. List some of the criteria you use to judge an effective Worship Leader.
9. Describe the role of the Worship Leader (why are they doing up there?).
10. List the skills and abilities you consider essential for a Worship Leader to possess.
Post-Class Written Assessment
Design of Corporate Worship
1. What makes Christian worship distinctive (as opposed to just worship)?
2. Why should Christians gather to worship (as opposed to worshiping alone)?
3. Describe the differences between individual worship and corporate worship?
4. Define and explain the communication cycle of Revelation-Response.
5. List as many corporate worship responses (means of worship) as possible.
Delivery of Corporate Worship
6. List some of the criteria you use to judge a worship-set.
7. List the personal qualities you consider essential for a Worship Leader to possess.
8. List some of the criteria you use to judge a person’s Worship Leading skills.
9. Describe your understanding of the role of the Worship Leader.
10. List the skills and abilities you consider essential for a Worship Leader to possess.
Anonymous Class Survey
1. Was the classroom a safe place to: Wonder? Question? Explore? Discuss?
2. Were the practicum sessions a safe place in which to work on Worship Leading Skills?
3. Was the use of video beneficial for feedback and evaluation?
4. Suggestions for improving the Practicum experience:
5. Do you feel equipped in the design and delivery of Corporate Worship?
6. Are there any additional topics you would liked to have addressed?
Was the professor sufficiently: Knowledgeable? Prepared? Approachable?
Overall impression of the class (Use back of page if necessary):
Evaluation of Worship Leading Skills
Evaluation of _______________________________________________________
Practicum: Day # ______________
A. Content Kerygma: Proclamation; teachings
(0 = needs attention . . . . . . . . . . . 5 = incredible)
Revelation and Response cycle 0 1 2 3 4 5
Discernable format/framework 0 1 2 3 4 5
Trinitarian/Christocentric 0 1 2 3 4 5
Merit 0 1 2 3 4 5
Integrity/suitability of Songs 0 1 2 3 4 5
B. Planning Leitourgia: Work of the people; Service; Sequence of communal acts
(0 = needs attention . . . . . . . . . . . 5 = incredible)
Variety of Actions 0 1 2 3 4 5
Significance of Actions 0 1 2 3 4 5
Platform vs. Congregational 0 1 2 3 4 5
Follow-through 0 1 2 3 4 5
II. DELIVERY SKILLS
A. Non-verbal Ethos: perceived ethical character; response the leader causes.
(0 = needs attention . . . . . . . . . . . 5 = incredible)
Poise/Facial/Eye Contact 0 1 2 3 4 5
Perceived Authenticity 0 1 2 3 4 5
Gestures which communicate 0 1 2 3 4 5
Gestures which signal 0 1 2 3 4 5
B. Verbal Pathos: What people feel; Persona: the character or role the leader plays.
Verbose 0 1 2 3 4 5 Concise
Faltering 0 1 2 3 4 5 Fluid
Superficial 0 1 2 3 4 5 Reflective
Indifferent 0 1 2 3 4 5 Engaged
C. Style Klerikoi: Orchestrate the community’s worship
Vague 0 1 2 3 4 5 Specific
Tenuous 0 1 2 3 4 5 Confident
Demanding 0 1 2 3 4 5 Inviting
Individual Practicum Designs
Practicum # 1 – No Singing
Assignment: Write an opening “Invocation” segment
Time: 3 minutes or less
Assumption: Your people have hurried to get to church, and have not been preparing themselves on the way.
Goal: To verbally get people from the “parking-lot and/or lobby” mindset to engaging
with God in the first song.
1. Name/designate which god who you have gathered to worship.
2. Hallow God’s names/attributes, etc.; claim God as “our” God.
3. Address the promise that God will be present if gathered in Jesus’ name.
4. Acknowledge the Church (“reconstituting”; priesthood; etc).
5. Petition for the Holy Spirit to enable and inspire our worship,
and for worship to be received through Christ.
6. Conclude/seal the prayer with a full Trinitarian doxology.
7. Transition smoothly into the first song (just the first line will do).
Key issues: Tone or mood for this worship segment? Role of music, scripture, silence,
etc. for this worship segment? Corporate and/or private participation?
Questions/Issues to consider: Is the service clearly declared to be Trinitarian?
Christocentric? Have the majority of worshipers made the emotional and mental
transition from individual life into corporate worship?
Individual Practicum # 2
Assignment: Psalm 100:1-4
Time: 3 minutes
Assumption: No music in this corporate worship-set
Goal: To design and lead a corporate revelation-response pattern of worship. The congregation may not sing.
Setting: Someone’s livingroom
Objectives: To discover that corporate worship can happen apart from music. To become comfortable with this pattern of worship. Navigating through the various means of corporate worship.
Question/Issues to consider: What are the non-musical corporate actions? How to lead into and out of these actions in a smooth and unobtrussive way?
GIVE HIM PRAISE
Verses 1-2: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
ACKNOWLEDGE HIS SOVEREIGNTY
Verse 3: Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
GIVE HIM THANKS
Verse 4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Individual Practicum # 3
Assignment: Philippians 2:1-11
Time: 4 minutes
Assumptions: This package may include songs, but do only the beginning verse or chorus.
Goal(s): Must include three different corporate actions.
Setting (if applicable): A non-denominational church plant of 50 people.
Objective(s): To weave musical and non-musical corporate response into a cohesive worship-set. To negotiate the use of the posture and silence skills, and the use of nonverbal communication.
Questions/Issues to consider: Ratio of the leader’s time of participation to the congregation’s participation time
Key issue: Who is doing the worshiping? The leader or the people?
Verses 1-2: If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Verses 3-4: Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you consider one another more important than yourselves. Do not look out merely for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Verses 5-8: Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, Though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Verse 9-11: Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Individual Practicum # 4
Assignment: Isaiah 6:1-7
Time: 5 minutes
Assumptions: This package may include songs, but do only the beginning verse or chorus.
Goal(s): Include four different congregational actions (singing is one).
Setting (if applicable): The student’s church.
Objective(s): To incorporate the use of gestures, and the use of voice inflections and tone.
Questions/Issues to consider: What is the tone? Sympathetic; condescending; encouraging; etc. How important is the assurance of pardon?
Key issue: Do you feel authentic? Do others feel you to be authentic?
Verses 1: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Verses 3-4: Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Verse 5: “Woe to me! I cried, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Verses 6-7: Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Individual Practicum #5
Assignment: John 1:1-4
Time: 6 minutes
Assumptions: The worship-set must include three songs and five congregational actions.
Goal(s): To design, from the given passage, the natural stops of revelation- response.
Setting (if applicable): Student’s choice
Objective(s): To design and deliver a cohesive worship-set. To use follow- through and reinforcement to emphasize the theological content.
Questions/Issues to consider: Are the songs theologically sound? Are they necessary? Are they corporate?
Key issue: Spotting the outline of a possible worship-set in the given passage.
Individual Practicum – Final!
Assignment: Student Choice. Design a worship-set on any outline from Roadmaps for Daily Worship, or another scriptural passage.
Time: 6 minutes
Assumptions: The worship-set must include four songs and six congregational actions.
Goal(s): To design, from the chosen passage, the natural stops of revelation- response. To lead people smoothly through the various responses.
Setting (if applicable): Student’s home church (if possible).
Objective(s): To design and deliver a cohesive worship-set. To use follow-through and reinforcement to emphasize the theological content. To lead a congregation-based worship-set.
Questions/Issues to consider: Did the things I have been working on get better?
Key issue: Was the content and design of worship clearly perceivable? Was worship truly corporate?
Assignment: lead a corporate worship segment treating the subject of confession and absolution/assurance of pardon
Time: 6 minutes or less
Assumption: confession of sin and absolution/assurance of pardon has a long history in the liturgy of the church (OT Hebrew and synagogue roots as well); confession of sin and absolution is essential to entering into worship with our Holy God
Goal: to experience confession and absolution from the perspective of three worship traditions…
Group 1–appropriate for a fictitious Grace Anglican Church (liturgical”)
Group 2– appropriate for a fictitious Grace Bible Church (“free church”)
Group 3– appropriate for “Amazing Grace: An Alternative Christian Fellowship” (a post-modern/emergent church setting)
Objective: gain an understanding of this element of corporate worship; develop an appreciation for diversity of perspective and practice as a result of comparison and contrast in approaches to this worship segment.
Questions/Issues to consider:
Tone or mood for this worship segment? Role of music, scripture, silence, etc. for this worship segment? Placement of this worship segment in one of the “folds” of worship? Theology of confession and absolution–i.e. the role of a “priestly” mediator in the worship segment? Role of confession/absolution as preparation for worship?
Key issue: how does the worshiper know that his or her sin has been absolved and their worship is acceptable to our Holy God
Group Practicum – Game
Assignment: Divide class into two teams. The set-up will be akin to the “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” segment where a prompt is given by the moderator, and students will step into the middle one at a time to test their ability to compose a corporate worship instruction.
Time: 6 minutes or less
Assumption: Students have worked on the various group practicum prompts throughout the course. The prompts used in this exercise are taken from the previous group practicum exercises.
Goal: To compose and deliver various corporate worship instructions under pressure.
Objective: To practice, review and share new ways of speaking oft-repeated instructions, so that corporate actions will stay fresh, and the leader will not seem predictable.
Questions/Issues to consider:
Is the leader’s prompt authentic? Does the leader’s prompt inject fresh meaning to the corporate action? Is the leader’s prompt inviting? Allusions and word-pictures are valuable to engage both the mind and heart, and can attach fresh meaning to routine corporate action.
Key issue: To prevent corporate worship, and the worship leader, from becoming boring and predictable.
-Listen to reading of Scripture
Allen, Ronald B. Lord of Song. Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1985.
________. Praise! A Matter of Life and Breath. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.1978.
________. The Wonder of Worship. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001.
Barna, George, et al. Experience God in Worship. Loveland, Colo.: Group Publishing, 2000.
Bateman, Herbert W. IV (Gen. Ed.). Authentic Worship: Hearing Scripture’s Voice, Applying Its Truths. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Inc., 2002.
Best, Ernest 1 Peter in New Century Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971.
Best, Harold M. Through The Eyes Of Faith. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.
Bonhoeffer, Deitrich. Life Together. New York, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1954.
________. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1970.
Borchert, Gerald L. Responding to Mystery: A Worship Introduction to the New Testament. Chalice Press, 2006.
Bradshaw, Paul. Early Christian Worship. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996.
Byars, Ronald P. Christian Worship: Glorifying and Enjoying God. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2000.
Carson, D.A., ed., Worship By The Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
Clifton, Donald O. and Edward “Chip” Anderson. StrengthsQuest. Washington, D.C.: The Gallup Organization, 2003.
Cross, Anthony and Philip Thompson, ed. Baptist Sacramentalism. Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2003.
Davis, Ken. Secrets of Dynamic Communication. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991.
Dawn, Marva J. A Royal Waste of Time. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999.
________. Reaching Out without Dumbing Down. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.
DePree, Max. Leadership is an Art. New York, New York: Bantam Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc., 1989
Fast, Julius. Body Language. New York, New York: Pocket Books, 1970.
Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit and Truth. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1996.
Frankforter, A. Daniel. Stones For Bread: A Critique of Contemporary Worship. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 2001.
Garland, David E. Colossians and Philemon in NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998
Gibbs, Alfred P. Worship: The Christian’s Highest Occupation. Kansas City, Kansas: Walterick Publishers, (no date given).
Grenz, Stanley J. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.
Hackett, Charles D. & Don E. Saliers. The Lord Be With You. Cleveland, Ohio: OSL Publications, 1990.
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Hustad, Donald P. True Worship. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Co., 1998.
________. Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Co., 1993.
Kidd, Reggie M. With One Voice. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2005.
Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL., InterVarsity Pres, 1978.
Lathrop, Gordon. What Are the Essentials of Christian worship?. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1994.
Leonard, Janice E. “The Covenant Basis of Biblical Worship.” In Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship, ed. Robert E. Webber, 56-65. Vol 1, Complete Library of Christian Worship. Nashville: Star Song, 1994.
Lewis, C.S. Reflections on the Psalms. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1958.
________. The Weight of Glory & Other Addresses. San Francisco: Eerdmans, 1965 (orig., 1949).
Liesch, Barry. The New Worship: Straight Talk on Music and the Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996.
Martin, Ralph P. Colossians: The Church’s Lord and the Christian’s Liberty. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972
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________. Worship In The Early Church. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964.
McKnight, Scott. 1 Peter in NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
Miller, Rex. The Millennium Matrix: Reclaiming the Past, Reframing the Future of the Church. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Mitman, Russell F. Worship in the Shape of Scripture. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2001.
Navarro, Kevin. The Complete Worship Leader. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.
O’Toole. Leading Change. New York, New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.
Old, Hughes Oliphant. Leading In Prayer. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995.
Owens, Ron. Return to Worship. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holdman Publishers, 1999.
Peterson, David. Engaging with God; A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992.
Pfatteicher, Philip H. Liturgical Spirituality. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press, 1997.
Saliers, Don E. Worship As Theology. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994.
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Robert E. Webber, 24-32-34. Vol. 5, Complete Library of Christian Worship.
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________. The Pursuit of God. Camp Hill: Christian Publications, Inc. 1982.
________. Whatever Happened to Worship?, comp. Gerald B. Smith. Camp Hill Pennsylvania: Wing Spread Publishers, 1985.
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________. People of the Truth. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001.
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Worship. Nashville: Star Song, 1994.
________. Rediscovering the Christian Feasts. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson
________. Worship Is A Verb. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.
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