Academic Programs 

Fundamentals of Worship: Practice and Theology   (WS-500)
Fall 2008

What is Christian worship, and how is it effectively and meaningfully led? This course will explore the theological underpinnings of the community gathered for worship, study the elements of regular and special services (including baptism, marriage and funeral), and provide practical guidance for developing worship experiences appropriate to both congregation and leader.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. - 6:50 p.m. beginning Sept. 10

Rev. Jonathan B. Lee

Contact Information:
(860) 529-4167

Rev. Donna K. Manocchio

Contact Information:
(860) 529-4167


Course Syllabus

Course Design

Each class begins with a time of devotions/worship led by students. The first portion of each class session is teacher led; the second portion is class discussion focused around one of the readings from the Johnson text. The Johnson readings sometime echo the topic for the day presented in the first hour and sometimes are quite different altogether. The final portion of each class (beginning October 1) includes two student presentations on topic of interest in worship. The break out of class time is as follows:

4:30 to 4:45 Devotion led by class members
4:45 to 5:30 Lecture on topic for the day
5:40 to 6:10 Discussion on the weekly reading from Johnson
6::10 to 6:40 Class member presentations on topics of interest, and discussion
6:40 to 6:50 Wrap-up

Course requirements

  • Class attendance
  • Completion of readings assigned for each class session
  • Preparation and leading of opening devotions when assigned
  • Thoughtful preparation and participation, including speaking and listening in small group and class conversations
  • One 10 minute presentation in class on an area of interest related to worship (topic to be approved by instructors) with outline and bibliography
  • A visit to a worship service in a tradition NOT your own, and 5-page report on same (due by November 12)
  • Creation in writing of four worship services (Word and Sacrament, Baptism, Funeral, Marriage) that are in keeping with your tradition, and incorporate meaningful innovations gleaned from the class. (due by December 17)

Required texts

Todd E. Johnson, ed.
The Conviction of Things Not Seen: Worship and Ministry in the 21st Century
Brazos Press, 2002
Collection of essays about contexts and possibilities for worship in a postmodern setting.

Thomas C. Long
Beyond the Worship Wars
The Alban Institute, 2001
Analysis of contemporary worship patterns and challenges, and recommendations for making worship vital and faithful.

Leeanne Van Dyk, ed.
A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and worship in Harmony
Eerdmans, 2005
An exploration of the ways liturgy and doctrine fruitfully illuminate one another.

James F. White
Introduction to Christian Worship, 3rd edition
Abingdon Press, 2000
Basic introduction to foundational themes (time, space, language) and history (particular practices) of Christian worship.

Recommended texts

Ronald P. Byars
Christian Worship: Glorifying and Enjoying God
Geneva Press, 2000
Rethinking word and sacrament in a time of general questioning about worship.

Tex Sample
The Spectacle of Worship in a Wired Word: Electronic Culture and the Gathered People of God
Abingdon, 1998
Embracing images, sound as beat, and visualization in worship

James White
Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition
Westminster John Knox, 1989

Overview of denominational characteristics of worship

William H. Willimon
Word, Water, Wind and Bread: How Christian Worship has Changed Over the Years
Judson Press, 1980

Historical context of Christian worship

Course schedule

September 10 Overview

Read as background: White, chapter 1
Long, chapters 1-3
Van Dyk, Introduction and chapter 1

September 17 Prayer

Read as background: White, chapter 5
Van Dyk, chapter 4
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 1

September 24 Time and Space

Read as background: White, chapters. 2-3
Long, chapters. 4 and 6
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 2

October 1 Music

Read as background: White, chapter 4
Long, chapter 5
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 4

October 8 Leadership

Read as background: Long, chapters 8 and 9
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 3

October 15 The Service of the Word

Read as background: White, chapter 6
Van Dyk, chapter 2
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 7

October 22 Preaching

Read as background: Van Dyk, chapter 3
an inspiring sermon (bring a copy to class)

October 29 Outreach and Ethics

Read as background: Long, chapter 7
Van Dyk, chapter 6
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 12

November 5 The Sacraments: Baptism

Read as background White, chapter 7 and 8
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 5

November 12 The Sacraments: Communion

Read as background: White, chapter 9
Van Dyk, chapter 5
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 9

November 19 Christian Funeral

Read as background: White, ch. 10
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 6

December 3 Christian Marriage

Read as background: White, chapter 10
Read to discuss Johnson, chapter 10

December 10 Tradition and Innovation

Read as background: Long, epilogue
Read to discuss: Johnson, chapter 11

December 17 Going Forth

Loose ends, general discussion and worship

Some suggestions for class presentation topics

  • intergenerational worship
  • healing and Christian worship
  • role of visual arts in worship
  • dance or movement in worship
  • worship for a particular age group (ie baby boomers, elder adults, teenagers, children, etc.)
  • multi-cultural and multi-ethnic worship
  • multi-media and worship
  • storytelling and worship
  • THINK: What would you like to explore further? What questions do you have about worship?


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500