Introduction to Christian Worship

This course provides an introduction to the principles and practices of Christian worship. The course deals with biblical and church-historical perspectives on and practices of worship, particularly those of the Reformed tradition, elements of Christian Reformed Church liturgy including psalmody and hymnody, and contemporary worship styles in different cultural settings.

Course Syllabus

Catalog Description

 An introduction to the principles and practices of Christian worship.  The course deals with biblical and church-historical perspectives on and practices of worship, particularly those of the Reformed tradition, elements of Christian Reformed Church liturgy including psalmody and hymnody, and contemporary worship styles in different cultural settings.

“Let us engrave the useful lesson upon our hearts, that we should consider it the great end of our existence to be found numbered among the worshippers of God; and that we should avail ourselves of the inestimable privilege of the stated assemblies of the Church, which are necessary helps to our infirmity, and means of mutual excitement and encouragement.  By these, and our common sacraments, the Lord who is one God, and who designed that we should be one in him, is training us up together in the hope of eternal life, and in the united celebration of his holy name.”  (John Calvin, from his Commentary on the Psalms)

Instructional Objectives

 For each student . . .

  1. To become better worshipers : that is, to experience deeply the privilege of offering public worship to God in Christ through the Spirit and to grow in the joy of new life in Christ.
  2. To become better pastoral theologians : that is, to learn how to articulate key biblical and theological dimensions of Christian public worship;  to develop aptitude for critical theological thinking about public worship; to develop pastoral sensibilities for applying these principles in challenging pastoral settings; to gain a sense for the discipline of the study of Christian worship, including basic bibliographic and source materials.
  3. To become better guests and hosts :  that is, to learn how to be perceptive participant-observers in public worship services in varied ministry settings, to develop sensitivities that help us better welcome guests and strangers in our congregations.
  4. To become better worship leaders :  that is, to develop basic skills in worship planning and worship leadership, such as choosing hymns, preparing prayers and spoken introductions, and training worship leaders; to fall in love with the joy of imaginative, creative, thoughtful worship planning that moves beyond basic skills to genuinely excellent offerings of our skills and resources to God; to sense the sheer privilege of leading congregations in worship.

NOTE:  In saying this, I want to add that the course is designed to be equally helpful for MA, MDiv, MTS, and ThM students.

COURSE READING

  1. Required BooksTheology of Worship, Perspectives on Worship, Writings About Worship

    Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture, Faith Alive Resources, 1997

    John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, selected passages of book IV.

    Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship: Reformed According to Scripture (Revised and Expanded edition), Louisville: John Knox Press, 2002

    Neal Plantinga and Sue Rozeboom, Discerning the Spirits, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003

    John D. Witvliet, Worship Seeking Understanding, Baker Academic, 2003

    Quentin Schultze, High-Tech Worship? Using Presentational Technologies Wisely, Baker, 2004 (you will be given a copy of this book)

    PRTH 650 Course Reader—will be handed out on the first day.

    Worship Planning and Leading Resources

    Psalter Hymnal, Faith Alive Resources, 1987

    Sing! A New CreationFaith Alive Resources, 2001

    The Worship SourcebookFaith Alive Resources/Baker, 2001

  2. Recommended ResourcesTheology, Perspectives, and Writings about Worship

    D.A. Carson, ed., Worship By the Book, Zondervan, 2002

    Thomas Long, Beyond the Worship Wars, Alban Institute, 2001

    Michael Hawn, One Bread, One Body, Alban Institute, 2003

    Paul Wadell, Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice and the Practice of Christian Friendship, Brazos Press, 2002

    James B. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, InterVarsity Press, 1996

    N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church,Eerdmans, 1997

    Lukas Vischer, Christian Worship in Reformed Churches Past and Present, Eerdmans, 2003

    Christine D. Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition,Eerdmans, 1999

    Richard Lischer ed., The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching Augustine to the Present, Eerdmans, 2002

    Paul Tokunaga, Invitation to Lead: Guidance for Emerging Asian American Leaders, InterVarsity, 2003

    Worship Planning and Leading Resources

    Timothy Botts, Sunday Doorposts, Tyndale, 1998 (reproducible calligraphy of Bible verses; great for bulletin covers!)

    Robert Webber, Renew! A Hymnal for Blended Worship, Accompaniment Edition, Hope Publishing

    Leonard Vander Zee, In Life and In Death, Faith Alive Resources (resource for funerals)

    Recent CRC Liturgical Forms Disk (very useful if you want to reprint forms in bulletins)

    Harvey Smit, “So You’ve Been Asked to Read Scripture,” Faith Alive Resources

    John Witvliet, “So You’ve Been Asked to Plan a Worship Service,”  Faith Alive Resources

    John Witvliet, “So You’ve Been Asked to Lead a Worship Service,”  Faith Alive Resources

    Jessie Schut, “So You’ve Been Asked to Give a Children’s Message,”  Faith Alive Resources

    Hughes Oliphant Old, Leading in Prayer, Eerdmans, 1995 (a mix of teaching and sample prayers)

    Songs for LiFE, CRC Publications (children’s hymnal; Living in Faith Everyday curriculum resource)

    Sunday Morning Live, CRC Publications (Youth Curriculum)

    Ron Rienstra, Ten Service Plans for Contemporary Worship, Faith Alive Resources (worship plans with a contemporary flavor)

    Reformed Worship, Faith Alive Resources (a quarterly publication with resources for planning and leading worship)

    Book of Common Worship, Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993

    The New Handbook of the Christian Year, Hoyt Hickman, Don Saliers, Laurence Stookey, and James White, Abingdon Press, 1992 (A comprehensive ecumenical guide that offers a series of worship services organized around the Christian year.)

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