Worship Education

The resources below are useful in worship education. Some may need to be adapted to suit a specific situation or purpose. Some are more niche approaches to worship education. Consider a multifaceted approach: the narrative service on Sunday (maybe spread over 2-3 Sundays) plus the reinforcement that could come from a Bible class or an ongoing series of printed comments.

Two teaching resources from the 2008 national worship conference archives:

  • Worship Education and Exploration Month (WEEM), by Arizona-California District Worship Coordinator Johnold Strey, offers a plan to coordinate eight Bible classes, one to four sermons, and four special services.
  • Worship the Lord, a three-week Bible class series by Arizona-California District President Jon Buchholz

Useful background preparation for the teacher, especially on any sensitive issues, can come from a comment in Worship the Lord:

The series “Worship Words to Wrestle With” (12 articles beginning in May 2009) offers helpful analysis of issues that frequently surface in worship discussions. Confessional Lutheran brothers share ideas that help us to be a confessional Lutheran synod.

From the 2002 worship conference:

Stephen Valleskey - "Theology of the Ordinary". Both the presentation (essay) and a PowerPoint file are available. The presentation contains many great insights and could be turned into more of a class than a presentation, using Valleskey’s content as starting point. If you do create such a class, please share!

Service of Word and Sacrament: An Explanation, Wayne Schulz, Northwestern Publishing House, 1996. Rather than eliminating or drastically cutting the sermon to allow presenting this on one Sunday, you might divide it into 3-4 sections to be covered on the same Sundays of the Bible class series.

The ABC’s of Worship, Paul T. Prange, Northwestern Publishing House, 2002. This booklet could be recommended for home reading by class participants. Also available: ABC's of Worship - Discussion Questions

Ideas beyond an overview of “how we worship”:

How does one teach confessional perspectives on worship to a larger audience, in a Bible class setting? Here are three sample possibilities.

  • Connect citations from the Confessions related to the Hauptartikel—the chief article, the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ—to our priorities and choices in worship.
  • Teach a catechetical review of Baptism relying on Luther’s powerful, colorful language in the Large Catechism. Luther said we should “use” baptism. When assaulted by spiritual struggles, he taught us to retort, “But I am baptized.” Is that kind of thinking deeply embedded in the piety of the people we serve?
  • Study guides are available for “Cleansed and Fed—the Sacramental Life,” a 2011 synod convention essay by C/W chairman Jon Zabell. Look for Worship the Lord #62 in the resource center.

From the 2014 worship conference: Zabell - Teaching the Sacraments

Comments from Worship the Lord, by Phil Hirsch.

How does one teach confessional perspectives on worship in a way that reaches the largest audience in the parish? Our synod’s Commission on Worship has done a great thing as they have modeled how to use the worship folder in a teaching manner without unduly interrupting the flow of the assembly’s time together. Notes that communicate, that teach, can be most helpful. But every now and then a verbal comment (teaching!) is beneficial—for example, about the Trinitarian invocation one Sunday and the Nicene Creed another. “Worship education” comments in the sermon, both appropriation and application, often flow naturally from the text.

For ideas check out a resource prepared by Pastor Wade Johnston formerly in Saginaw, MI [now at WLC]. He uses the Western rite to teach two things—the Christian faith and the whys and wherefores of worship. See PDF below. The result of such catechesis is that doctrine and worship reinforce each other every Sunday.

A resource similar to Johnston’s is discussed in a Worship the Lord issue by Michael Zarling.

While teaching about worship in a class setting, consider including one or both of the options below.

  • Worship Service Notations - Sharpsburg 2014
  • Preservice worship talks – see sample files below, from Citrus Heights, CA when Bill Tackmier was pastor and layman Brian Heinitz was chair of the Board of Worship. Brian was later for a time a member of the Commission on Worship.

Meaningful Worship, James Brauer, Concordia Publishing House, 1994. 96 pages of accessible guidance on Lutheran worship. The beginnings of each chapter, with stories and anecdotes, are useful with children and also valuable with adults. Similar material could be the basis for a bulletin insert as well as verbal comments that go beyond the insert. This book could be invaluable for a sermon series.

Downloadable resources

Citrus Heights - Worship Talks - HeinitzDownload
Citrus Heights - worshp folder paragraphsDownload
BIC - Liturgical Catechesis - JohnstonDownload
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  • September 29, 2021 Last Updated