This class will provide a broad theological and historical overview of Christian worship, and will explore the relationship between worship and culture. Specific attention will be paid to the Biblical foundations of worship, and to the historical development of the music of the church. Students will also learn the basics of good worship planning, and will be invited to reflect on their own experience and current context throughout the course. It is not necessary for students to be musicians in order to enroll. This is a required core class for students pursuing certification.
Cost – $500
Fulfills certification requirement for Biblical & Theological Studies
Continuing education contact hours – 16
Class starts Monday, January 23rd, 2017 at 9:00 AM, ends Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 at noon. Distance learning option available.
Luther Seminary (map)
2481 Como Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108
Prior to the first session, students will be asked to reflect on their own experience of worship, both in the past and in their current context. They will then post to the class discussion board a summary of their reflections as well as describe their hopes and expectations for the class. Some advanced reading will also be required.
Theology of Worship
What are the basic theological foundations of our faith and how do they affect the way in which we worship? Students will explore concepts including justification by grace through faith, the Holy Trinity, word and sacrament, theology of the cross, and worship as a dialog experienced in community.
Students will be trained to think critically about their experience of worship. Who is worship “for”? How can both intellect and emotion be engaged during worship? How do we express deeper meaning through our actions? These and other questions will be explored.
Worship & Culture
Sessions 3 & 4 will use the four understandings established by the Nairobi Statement on Worship & Culture as a framework for discussing the complex relationship between worship and the cultures in which it is and has been experienced. Session 3 will consider the transcultural character of worship, and focus on the things that are universally shared in worship in every time and across all cultures. This session will also look at how worship is contextual, meaning characterized by the specific features of individual cultures in every specific time and place.
Worship also has a counter-cultural component, and Session 4 will begin by looking at the ways that worship can be prophetic and challenge common cultural assumptions. Finally, the cross-cultural nature of worship will be explored, highlighting both the unity and diversity of the church.
Worship in Historical Context
Students will be given a broad survey of the history of the Christian church with a focus on worship practices and music. Session 5 will begin with the influence of pre-Judaic religions, walk through the development of Jewish practices, look at the early church, the split between east and west, the development of monastic practice, and end with the middle ages. Phew!
Beginning with the Reformation, Session 6 will focus on the splintering of the church in the west and the development of the many Protestant traditions and the Anglican Church. Students will learn about the development of “evangelical” and Pentecostal traditions, with some specific attention paid to recent history including non-denominational and mega-churches, plus Vatican II and the ecumenical liturgical reform movement.
How have Christians understood the passage of time and God’s work in human history? Students will learn about different ways in which the church has recalled and re-experienced that narrative in worship. We will discuss how the life of Jesus provides a framework for the church year, and we will look at various cycles of readings and how they have developed.
The focus in this session will shift to a study of how worship services are organized and the establishment of good planning practices. We will look at individual elements of the service, how they developed, and discuss how they fit together. The class will consider the overall flow of worship and explore how that affects the meaning that is conveyed. How music contributes to the experience of worship will be a prominent question throughout.
In the weeks following the last session, each student will create a complete order of worship for a specific occasion. They will also describe the reason they chose that occasion, any overarching values or concerns that influenced their work, and provide a thorough commentary about each element of the service and how it functions. Students will submit a draft for review by the teacher, then a final version of the service.