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Theology of Worship and Spirituality

This course guided by this syllabus would explore the notion that worship and spirituality correspond with Christian truth. The Scripture and common creeds of the early church are studied to reveal the overarching Christian narrative of creation, incarnation and re-creation. Worship and spirituality are understood within this context, the meta-narrative of faith, commonly known as the Christian world view.

Course Syllabus

COURSE SESSIONS – The class room sessions will be divided into two parts. In one part, students will discuss the biblical principles that regulative worship, as outlined in Principled Worship. In the second part, students will interact with one another over their common readings.

COURSE OBJECTIVES – The three general objectives of this course are growth in understanding, growth in attitude, and growth in skill.

Understanding: The foundation of the course is the Bible. The student will study the Scriptures in order to develop a biblical theology of worship and spirituality. This study will be enriched by classroom discussion and the reading of required texts.

Attitude: The student is asked to interact with the biblical foundation of worship and spirituality so that his or her heart and mind are infused by a continuous openness and personal vulnerability to the biblical sources.

Skill: It is understood that the study of biblical worship and spirituality is not only academic, but for personal enrichment, spiritual growth and the development of ministry skills in the life of the local church.


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  – 1,000 pages of careful reading of required texts

3.       Journal  – A spiral notebook shall accompany the reading of required texts. In that notebook, the student shall summarize the author’s thesis, describe lessons learned, and list questions raised. Recorded comments shall not be a commentary on the student’s life or feelings or experiences. Instead, they should reflect critical interaction with the text within the context of the student’s theological heritage and current ministry. The entries for each book must be completed by the beginning of the class session during which the book is discussed.

4.       Project  – Select one of the following:

Academic Paper – The academic paper is a research paper based on a topic of interest to the student and confined to an issue of worship or spirituality related to a biblical or theological matter.  It is recommended that the student research a narrow topic in depth, supplemented by contemporary application. The paper should not exceed 20 pages in length. Footnotes and bibliography must follow the style of Turabian, 6th ed.

Extensive Reading – A student may choose to read an additional 1,000 pages of material dealing with issues of worship or spirituality based on the biblical text or theological interpretation.  A paper of about 10 pages interacting with the reading must be submitted for evaluation.  It is recommended for the student to choose readings representing their own tradition.

  1. Professional Project – A project integrated with the student’s current ministry. The extent of work, original thought, and interpretive analysis must be equal to the assignments outlined above.  Approval for the project is to be determined through discussion with the instructor.


Chan, Simon. Liturgical Theology: The Church as a Worshiping Community. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006). (180 pages)

Dawn, Marva. A Royal “Waste” of Time: The Splendor of Worshiping God and Being Church for the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999). (360 pages)

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

Webber, Robert. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. (250 pages)


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

Costen, Melva. African American Christian Worship. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993.

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

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

Segler, Franklin M. Understanding, Preparing for, and Practicing Christian Worship, 2nd Edition, Revised by Randall Bradley. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996.

Torrance, James. Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Webber, Robert – The reader will benefit from any of Webber’s outstanding works on worship.


Session 1

Hamstra, Principled Worship, “Introduction”
Chan, Liturgical Theology, Chapters 1-2

Session 2     

Webber, Divine Embrace, Part 1
Hamstra, Principled Worship
Chapter One – The Triune God and Worship

Session 3     

Webber, Divine Embrace, Part 2
Hamstra, Principled Worship,
Chapter Two – The Person Who Worships

Session 4     

Ross, Hope of Glory, Parts 1, 2, 3
Hamstra, Principled Worship
Chapter Three – The People Who Worship

Session 5     

Ross, Hope of Glory, Parts 5, 6, 7
Hamstra, Principled Worship
Chapter 4 – The Content of Worship

Session 6     

Ross, Hope of Glory, Parts 8, 9, 10
Hamstra, Principled Worship
Chapter 5 – The Music of Worship

Session 7     

Chan, Liturgical Theology, Part 1
Hamstra, Principled Worship
Chapter 6 – The Context for Worship

Session 8            

Dawn, A Royal Waste of Time
Hamstra, Principled Worship
Chapter 6 – The Context for Worship

Session 9             

Dawn, A Royal Waste of Time
Hamstra, Principled Worship – Appendix

Session 10   

Catch Up, Wrap Up, and Top Ten Journal Entries Projects Due