Recent History of Christian Worship

This syllabus follows a study of the forces and movements that have reshaped patterns of Christian worship in the last 25 years, with a particular focus on the ecumenical liturgical movement that arose out of Vatican II, the charismatic movement, and new models for integrating worship and evangelism.

Course Syllabus

CATALOG DESCRIPTION

 A study of the forces and movements that have reshaped patterns of Christian worship in the last 25 years, with a particular focus on the ecumenical liturgical movement that arose out of Vatican II, the charismatic movement, and new models for integrating worship and evangelism.

INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES

 For each student . . .

1. To develop a broad understanding of the body of Christ in North America and its diversity of worship practices. And more, generally, to articulate key biblical and theological dimensions of Christian public worship; to develop aptitude for critical theological thinking about public worship.

2. To reconsider the implicit attitudes about recent history that shape our life in the church. And, more generally, to develop pastoral sensibilities for making good decisions as congregational leaders.

3. To gain a sense for the discipline of the study of Christian worship, including basic bibliographic and source materials.

4. To sense more deeply the privilege of offering public worship to God in Christ through the Spirit; to sense the privilege of leading congregations in worship, and to dream dreams and see visions about new opportunities for faithful service in Christ’s church.

COURSE TEXT BOOKS

 

 Robb Redman, The Great Worship Awakening: Singing a New Song in the Postmodern Church (Jossey Bass, 2002)

Todd E. Johnson, The Conviction of Things Not Seen: Worship and Ministry in the 21st Century (Brazos Press, 2002)

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

 

1. Brief Biographies

Prior to our second class, email the professor with a brief description of what you hope to learn in this class (and, if this is your first class with this professor, provide a brief description of your background and what brought you to take this class).

2. Course Reading.

If at all possible, before the class, read Redman and skim the essays in the other two books.

3. Primary Source Analysis

Identify a key hymnal, songbook, collection of sermons, or worship book from sometime between 1960 and 2000. Research all you can about its origins, compare it to similar or related primary sources, and write a 5-page report on its origins, key features, and significance.

4. Book Review

Prepare one 7-page review essay on the three course textbooks. The review should:

• be focused on a specific element of worship (e.g., the Lord’s Supper, preaching, visual arts, baptism, music, etc.)

• advance a thesis about how we should understand the recent history of Christian worship (which should be readily identified by a thesis statement early in the review essay)

• provide a succinct summary of what each volume contributes to your chosen topic

• take into account class discussions (you may choose to agree or disagree with perspectives taken in class)

• include some paragraphs that advance your own perspective and argument, drawing in additional sources as necessary (cite your sources)

• summarize what future work is needed for both practitioners and scholars

Make sure that your review essay clearly reflects these 6 things

5. Pastoral Letter

Prepare a three-page personal reflection/pastoral letter on how the study of the recent history of Christian worship shapes your attitude or outlook on Christian ministry. Write with few, if any footnotes, and with uncommon honesty about your own implicit attitudes and approaches. Address the paper to your congregation (that is, to people who haven’t taken this class). After the class, consider using it in a church newsletter.

GRADING
Class Participation 10%
Primary Source Analysis 30%
Book Review 40%
Essay on Attitudes for Ministry 20%

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