Lester Ruth



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Describing WO520 Do the nature and activity of the Trinity have anything to say about how we worship today? In light of the Trinity, does the history of Christian worship have anything to say about how we worship today? These are the questions that will organize WO520, The History of Christian Worship. The class is designed to be an environment in which a student can explore answers to these questions. We’ll explore these questions by imagining ourselves as leadership in a church named First Methodist Church (we will call it the Touchstone Church in this course), responsible for the church’s “contemporary” service called the New Covenant Service. The premise is that we have felt like we have “hit the wall” in terms of this service. We wonder if there is anything more. What else could we do to renew our worship? What must we leave in place? (For more information on this church, please see the links on the course website.) In this course each student will imagine that she or he is either the associate pastor, who has primary ordained responsibility for this course, or the church musician. The worship design committee has commissioned you to do a study of worship and write a series of five newsletter articles on what we ought to do and think about the worship of this church. Enriching this service in our Touchstone Church will be the goal of this course. With this premise, what specifically will this course be about? WO520 will be about…. � …forming students for leading worship in Christian communities (the focus is on corporate worship, not individual experience of worship) in certain key facets; � …having a key theological conviction of the Christian faith guide our exploration (the class will be spent in extended reflection on the implications of that compelling theological conviction for Christian worship); and � …pursuing a recurring, imaginative placement of the student as a leader within a hypothetical Christian community, giving her/him a chance to see the theological implications in a realistic pastoral situation. The course will have this flow: becoming familiar with the Touchstone Church and its desire for renewed worship, then cultivating Trinitarian perspective and expectations about Christian worship, and finally, the use of this perspective and expectations to explore the worship of 5 historic Christian communities (Rome, Jerusalem, Salisbury, Geneva, and Baltimore) for possible answers to the Touchstone Church’s desire for renewed worship. In this manner we will accomplish the catalog description for the course that speaks of it as a survey of Christian worship over the last 2,000 years. We will grapple with basic issues in worship as well as recurring themes and understandings about worship as represented by different historical traditions. We will explore whether past ways of worshiping, explored under the spotlight of Trinitarian doctrine, might offer options for approaching worship renewal today. Are there “basics,” “essentials,” or “nonnegotiables” for Christian worship today and in the past?

Publication Date

January 2008


Asbury Theological Seminary


WO520, The, History, of, Christian, Worship, SP08



WO 520 The History of Christian Worship