Worship Arts in the 21st Century

This syllabus provides a guide for a course that explores the current status and evolution of the worship arts culture within contemporary Christendom.

Course Syllabus

Course Description 

This course will explore the current status and evolution of the worship arts culture within contemporary Christendom. Students will seek to understand the importance of modern methodologies as pertinent to the pursuit of the worship of God within the context of postmodernity, and how this applies to worshiping in a vacuum versus evangelistically worshiping within a community touched by postmodernity. The course will discuss the ever-changing notion of vernacular communication and the ongoing discourse regarding ecumenical worship as the church of the 21st century attempts to achieve community, retain tradition, and operate out of a sense of cultural relevance. The course will seek to “unpack” evolving ideas of worship. We will seek to reconcile notions of worship, service, and performance, while understanding the significance of cultural “bridge building.”

•  Students will seek to understand the ever-changing notion of vernacular communication, and ongoing discourse as the church of the 21st century attempts cultural relevance.

•  Students will be able to “unpack” and articulate evolving ideas of worship.

•  Students will demonstrate possible ways to reconcile notions of worship, service, and performance, while understanding the significance of cultural “bridge building.”

Required Texts

  • A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a Missional + Evangelical, Post/Protestant + Liberal/Conservative + Mystic/Poetic + Biblical + Charismatic/Contemplative + Fundamentalist/Calvinist + Anabaptist/Anglican + Methodist, + Catholic + Green + Incarnational + Depressed-Yet-Hopeful + Emergent + Unfinished Christian, by Brian McLaren. Zondervan.
  • Touching the Holy Other, by Shawn Young. Xanedu/Copley.
  • The Holy Bible

Websites

Additional potential readings from:

  • Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog by Raewynne J. Whiteley, Beth Maynard
  • The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Churchby Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch
  • Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World, by Robert E. Webber. 

Research Project

Using course texts and websites, students will develop ideas of relevant, emergent, and cutting-edge forms of worship. Students should choose a particular culture and attempt to “build a bridge” from the congregation to God: that is, students should develop creative ways to facilitate the worship of the Creator within multiple cultural and trans-cultural contexts.

Tentative Schedule

Week One

  • David and Radical worship (Birthday suits, decency, and order)

Week Two

  • What in the world is worship?
  • Does God need our affirmation?
  • Ascribing value to an object…any object.

Week Three

  • The power of vernacular communication

Week Four

  • The emerging church

Week Five

  • Post modernity and community

Week Six

  • The vertical and the horizontal
  • Informational and proclamatory hymnology, vertical connection

Week Seven

  • Worship variations, deviations and varieties
  • Worship planning (Cultural dualism versus the “combined service”)

Week Eight

  • Structure versus freedom
  • Using presentational technologies
  • DVD (FutureWorship 1.0)

Week Nine

  • The emotive experience
  • Controversies and opinion

Week Ten

  • Can a worship leader please everyone?
  • Opinions are like…

Week Eleven

  • What does God really want?

Week Twelve

  • Honesty in worship
  • Anger in worship (Psalms and Lamentations)

Week Thirteen

  • Projects and review

Week Fourteen

  • Final Exam

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