WSTU 300 syllabus

Trinity Western University – course syllabus

WSTU 300 (3 s.h.) – spring 2017

Current Worship Leadership Issues

Prerequisite:               WSTU 200, or permission of the instructor

Instructor/Contact:    Dr. David Squires, ex3469;

Mus Bldg, office hrs MW 11am-noon (usually), or by appt

Course website: (we do not use MyCourses)

Course Format:           lectures: W 6-9pm; additional field trip(s) TBA



An examination of contemporary trends and leadership issues in worship practice, set in the context of the larger cultural shifts of the last 30 years. The course has two main areas of concern: (1) theological and philosophical leadership issues for a biblical worship practice in a postmodern culture, and (2) practical concerns relating to development of a vibrant local church worship ministry.


[ References below are the university’s Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), found in full at: ]

This course is designed in such a way that the diligent student will:

  • develop a working understanding of many of the key theological and philosophical issues which affect leadership of a worship ministry in a postmodern culture;

[knowledge and its application, SLO#1; cognitive complexity, SLO#2]

  • understand the changes in local church worship ministry which have taken place in recent decades;

[knowledge and its application, SLO#1; cognitive complexity, SLO#2]

  • be more equipped to respond charitably and critically to significant issues of concern for leaders in the worship life of the contemporary church.

[cognitive complexity, SLO#2; leadership, SLO#7]


Kimball, Dan. The Emerging Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan (2003)

Other resources will be posted on the course website:


Participation (15%)        

  1. Required readings chosen at the instructor’s discretion from those posted on the course website. Informed, critical participation in class discussions is expected. Students are encouraged to keep a journal throughout the semester, engaging, processing and reflecting critically on (a) readings and discussions, and (b) experiences and impressions from any churches visited.

Critical Reviews (4 x 5% = 20%)                    

  1. At the end of each module students will write a critical review which involves their personal engagement with key ideas raised in the lectures, readings, and discussions of that module. [The lowest grade of the 5 will be dropped, and only 4 counted.]

Each critical review is to be:

  • a 700-800 word reflection, with citations and bibliography (a template and rubric will be provided)
  • an informed personal response to lectures and readings in each module and to issues arising in class discussions, and highlighting questions the student will continue to pursue
  • written in first-person, yet demonstrating a command of the central issues of the module, critical thinking on the subject, and a keen sense of curiosity and imagination
  • Critical Reviews are due on the Monday following the end of each module. (Submit in electronic form, either .pdf, .doc or .docx; not in an email body.)

Written Report (10%)     

  1. Submit a comparative report (c.3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced) on two church services attended—services which reflect differing styles and liturgies (to be chosen in consultation with the instructor.) The report is to examine each of the church worship services from various perspectives related to postmodern culture as studied in the course. In other words, we are concerned in this course to examine the contemporary church’s worship life and its relationship with the wider contemporary culture. How do you find each of these services addresses issues related to culture? The report is due in class Apr 5 (hard copy.)

Seminar Presentations (2 x 15% = 30%)

  1. Two separate seminar presentations with accompanying summary papers (approx. 30 minute presentation, with 5-6 page summary, typed, double-spaced, with full citations and bibliography), on topics and schedule to be determined within the first two weeks of class. Each presentation will focus on one of the module topics, involving the ideas of one or two of the above recommended readings, and should also draw on the student’s own informed reflection on the subject.

The presentation topics and schedule will be determined no later than the end of January. The summary paper is due at the same time as the presentation.

Research Paper (30%)    

  1. A research paper (c.10 pages, typed, double-spaced, with full citations and bibliography), on one of the topics from the list below (not duplicating a seminar presentation topic). The paper should explore the ideas of major writers and leaders in the chosen topic, and should also draw on the student’s own informed reflection on the subject – in other words, having read and discussed the issues in class discussions, and then researched them for the paper, the paper should contain some integration and synthesis of materials and ideas, in the manner of a thesis or position paper.

The paper topic is to be discussed and agreed upon with the instructor before Reading Break. It is due on the last day of classes (Apr 12) in both hard copy and digital form.

paper topics:

worship and postmodern culture          worship and the visual

worship space         musical style

liturgy and convergence        worship and technology

(There is no final exam.)



The following grading scale differs from the university standard grading system, and will be used for this course:

A+             97-100                    B+             83-87                       C+             69-73                       D+            56-59

A               92-96                       B               78-82                       C               64-68                       D               53-55

A-              88-91                       B-              74-77                       C-              60-63                       D-             50-52     (F: up to 49)


The following grade definitions are applicable in this course:

A-/A/A+ outstanding, excellent work

B-/B/B+                   good, competent work

C-/C/C+                   adequate, reasonably satisfactory work

D-/D/D+                  minimally acceptable work

F                             inadequate, not up to required standard


Class discussions, assigned readings, seminar presentations and field experiences will be organized into modules as follows (readings in bold, dates tba):

module 1: starters

Cherry ch.1 (pp3-18)                                                                                                                                                                

  • course intro
  • “how firm a foundation”: worship theology
  • the multi-verse: multi-generations and multi-styles (part 1)

module 2: cultures

text: chs 1-8, Grenz, Dawn (ch.5), Black

  • the multi-verse: multi-generations and multi-styles (part 2)
  • pomo culture and inculturation
  • more multi-verse: multi-faith spirituality and multi-cultures

module 3: arts / interaction

text: chs.12-15, Dyrness, Sweet, Schroeder, Witvliet

  • experiential worship
  • even more multi-verse: the arts, the visual, worship space, musical style
  • dance

module 4: ethos / style

Webber, text: chs.9-11, 18, Morgenthaler, Dawn (chs.9, 29), White, Baker (tba)

  • liturgy and convergence
  • worship and/as evangelism
  • technology          

module 5: leadership

Kimball, Pierson, Baker, Sweet

  • leadership
  • design / curation



Attendance and Deadlines

  • Attendance and participation is required to get the most out of the course.
  • Anyone who misses 25% of the classes (more than 3) may be barred from writing the final exam.
  • Assignments are accepted late for up to 4 days (penalty of 10% per day), unless the assignment has been taken up in class. In this case, it will receive a grade of zero. The final day to hand in assignments is the last day of classes (Apr 12.)

Writing quality

It is expected that your level of writing is up to university standards. Assignments with significant grammatical problems will be referred to the Writing Centre for rewriting before the assignment will be marked. The Writing Centre is an excellent resource for students at all levels to improve writing skills. See:

Fragrance-Free Policy

Trinity Western University is moving towards a scent-free environment in response to numerous faculty, staff and students whose health is at risk when exposed to chemical-based or scented products. More information:

Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism at TWU

One of the core values of Trinity Western University is the integration of academic excellence with high standards of personal, moral, and spiritual integrity. The University considers it a serious offence when an individual attempts to gain unearned academic credit. It is the student’s responsibility to be informed about what constitutes academic dishonesty. For details on this, and on identifying and avoiding plagiarism go to

Responsible Use of Electronic Devices

If you bring or use electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, laptops) in class, please do so responsibly. Responsible use of electronic devices includes:

  • Setting up devices and turning off all sounds prior to the start of class.
  • Using devices for class related work. Checking social networks distracts you and those around you.
  • Using devices as a way to increase engagement rather than detract from engagement. In some situations (discussion, viewing images, etc) this may involve turning devices off.

Campus Closure and Class Cancellations

In case of extreme weather conditions, check the campus state at:

Students with a Disability

Students with a disability who need assistance are encouraged to contact the Equity of Access Office upon admission to TWU to discuss their specific needs. All disabilities must be recently documented by an appropriately certified professional and include the educational impact of the disability along with recommended accommodations. Within the first two weeks of the semester, students must meet with their professors to agree on accommodations appropriate to each class. Students should follow the steps detailed by the Equity of Access Office outlined in the Student Life section of the University Calendar.