Join our mailing list

Leading and Designing Worship

This course prepares students to design and lead worship services in a variety of contexts. Building on a foundation of establishing a philosophical framework in which to design and implement worship, specific elements and design forms or structures will be presented, experienced, analyzed and evaluated against the philosophical framework.

Course Syllabus


This course hopes to equip students with basic tools for designing liturgies which are faithful to the Scriptures, and leading the weekly liturgies of gathered communities in a post-Christian, multi-cultural American society. These tools include, but are not limited to, the application of the regulative principle, knowledge of the skeletons for worship utilized throughout the history of the church, and the exercise of time-proven communication techniques. In the process, special attention will be given to the pastoral dimensions of designing and leading worship, such as personal and corporate dependence upon the grace of our Triune God, and the formative power of the liturgy in the lives of the congregants.


1.       Class Attendance/Participation

Seminary study, by design, embraces collegiality as a rich resource of personal growth.  Class time will be filled by lectures, discussion, and presentations.  Please anticipate no more than one excused absence.

2.       Reading

Students shall submit a 2-3 page paper on the books in the “Required Reading” list.  Each paper shall summarize the author’s thesis, describe lessons learned, and list questions raised. The due date for each paper is the beginning of the class session during which the book will be discussed.

3.       Worship Planning Project

Each student shall prepare one complete liturgy. It shall be faithful to student’s theological and ecclesiastical tradition. It shall be for a weekly worship service during ordinary time. It shall be accompanied by commentary which explains the theological and/or practical rationale for the skeleton of the liturgy, as well as for the inclusion and placement of each element within the liturgy. Each student shall present his or her liturgy to the class for discussion. A copy of the liturgy shall be made available for each student.

4.       Leading Worship

Time will be dedicated during each session to the leading of worship.  Each session will address a select number of liturgical elements. Each student will come to class prepared to lead his or her pre-assigned element. Students will help each other find “their voices” and improve their communication skills.  Most importantly, students will learn the art of leading worship.



Costen, Melva. African American Christian Worship. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993. (150 pages)

Dawn, Marva. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for the Turn-Of-The-Century Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, Co., 1995. (300 pages)

Hamstra, Sam. Principled Worship: Biblical Guidelines for Emerging Liturgies.  Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006.  (120 pages)

Nouwin, Henri.  Reaching Out. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975. (120 pages)

Webber, Robert.  Planning Blended Worship: The Creative Mixture of Old and New.  Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998. (209 pages)

Wright, N.T. For All Gods Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, Publishing, Co., 1997.  (136 pages)



Session 1       The Current Climate for Worship

Session 2      Regulative Principle & the Triune God of Worship

Required Reading: Sam Hamstra, Principled Worship
Leading Worship: Call to Worship, Procession, & Invocation

Session 3       The Person Who Worships

Required Reading: N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth
Leading Worship: Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance
Offering (announcement & prayer)

Session 4       The People Who Worship

Required Reading: Henri Nouwin, Reaching Out
Leading Worship: Welcome & Passing of the Peace

Session 5       The Content of Worship

Required Reading: Marva Dawn, Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down
Leading Worship: Scripture Reading & Prayer for Illumination

Session 6       The Music of Worship

Required Reading: Melva Costen, African American Christian Worship
Leading Worship: The Lord’s Supper

Session 7      The Context for Worship

Required Reading: Sam Hamstra, Principled Worship (Chapter 6)
 Leading Worship: Dismissal & Benediction

Session 8      The Skelton for Worship

Required Reading: Robert Webber, Planning Blended Worship
 Leading Worship: Bridging The Movements

Session 9       Student Presentations

Session 10    Student Presentations



Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: CRC Publications, 1997. (100 pages)

Bartow, Charles L. Effective Speech Communication in Leading Worship. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2005.  (128 pages)

Berglund, Brad.  Reinventing Sunday.  Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2001.  (123 pages)

Basden, Paul, editor. Exploring the Worship Spectrum: Six Views. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Co., 2004.  (256 pages)

Boschman, Lamar.  Future Worship.  Ventura, CA: Renew Books, 1999. (191 pages)

Brown, Frank Burch. Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: Aesthetics in the Religious Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.  (312 pages)

Carson, D.A. and Timothy Kelly, Mark Ashton, and R. Kent Hughes. Worship by the Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002. (208 pages)

Chan, Simon.  Liturgical Theology: The Church as a Worshiping Community. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006. (200 pages)

Fitch, David.  The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.  (263 pages)

Horton, Michael. A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2002.  (249 pages)

Hustad, Donald. True Worship: Reclaiming the Wonder & Majesty.  Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing, 1998.  (308 pages)

Kimball, Dan. Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations.Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, Co., 2004.

Lathrop, Gordon. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology. Nashville, TN: Augsburg Press, 1993.

Long, Thomas G. Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship. The Alban Institute, 2001. (119 pages)

Old, Hughes Oliphant. Worship Reformed according to Scripture. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.  (190 pages)

Peterson, David.  Engaging With God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992.  (300 pages)

Plantinga, Jr., Cornelius, and Sue A Rozeboom.  Discerning the Spirits: A Guide to Thinking About Christian Worship Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2003.   (160 pages)

Redman, Robb. The Great Worship Awakening: Singing a New Song in the Postmodern Church. San Franciso, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002. (200 pages)

Ross, Allen P.  Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship From the Garden to the New Creation. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2006. (500 pages)

Ryken, Philip Graham, and Derek W.H. Thomas, J. Ligon Duncan III, eds. Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003.

Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy.Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2002.  (150 pages)

Schultze, Quentin. High-Tech Worship? Using Presentational Technologies Wisely. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2004. (112 pages)

Spinks, Bryan D. and Iain R. Torrance, eds. To Glorify God: Essays on Modern Reformed Liturgy. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1999.  (260 pages)

Vander Zee, Leonard. Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004. (250 pages)

Van Dyk, Leanne, editor.  A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2005.  (150 pages)

Vann, Jane. Gathered Before God: Worship-Centered Church Renewal.  Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 2004.  (190 pages)

Von Allmen, J.J. Worship: Its theology and practice. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, June 2002.   (300 pages).

Webber, Robert.  Ancient Future-Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004.  (208 pages)

Blended Worship: Achieving Substance and Relevance in Worship. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1996. (181 pages)

The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.  (288 pages)

White, James. Introduction to Worship. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1980. (280 pages)

Witvliet, John. Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows Into Christian Practice. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2003