Church Leaders

 

“I am grateful for opportunity to participate in the learning community at IWS. I find it to be a place of great concern for the flourishing of the church, a deep desire to learn and grow, and a counter-cultural passion for learning from and about worship practices in a variety of times and places and denominational contexts. I find students and seminar participants to be so willing and eager to learn about every facet of worship ministry–theological, historical, sociological, and psychological–in both theoretical and practical ways.”

John Witvliet, Ph.D.
Director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship).

Leonard Sweet thumbnail“There are so many memories that keep resonating from my recent time teaching alumni from the Institute for Worship Studies. I have spoken at and attended many conferences, but never have I encountered better singing (especially in harmony) or more ‘joy of the Lord’ than from the IWS community. I also was impressed with how the faculty and staff of IWS are recovering an ancient definition of ‘liturgy’ as ‘the elder sibling of drama.’ Thanks to all my faculty colleagues and students at IWS.”

-Leonard Sweet, Ph.D.
Professor at Drew Theological School at Drew University
and at George Fox University

“The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies is a unique, beautiful model for theological education and spiritual formation. At the Institute, as the church fathers emphasized, all study begins and ends within the beauty of worship. Not only so, but the Institute provides an innovative curriculum and accessible delivery model that students will find highly attractive.”

-Chris Hall, Ph.D.,
Chancellor of Eastern University and Author

“For the student who wants to understand deeply the biblical foundations of worship in a context that is historically tuned, culturally aware and sensitive to the needs of those who are—or long to be—in worship ministry, IWS is unique. A warm, welcoming place that combines distance learning with onsite intensives, IWS makes pursuing an advance degree attainable, even for those already involved in fulltime ministry, and delivers the kind of education that is only possible with a world-class faculty. I love visiting and teaching there. To see the dreams of my dear friend and IWS founder Robert Webber become incarnate reality is such a joy.”

-Chuck Fromm, Ph.D.,
Publisher, Worship Leader Magazine

“Recently, it was my privilege to teach, as well as to preach, at the Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies in Jackonsonville, FL. I was singularly impressed with both the rich scholarship and the profound worship manifest there…indeed, I could hardly tell the difference!

“Charles Wesley appealed to 18th century Methodists: ‘Let us unite the two so long divided: Knowledge and Vital Piety!’ Many have responded to Wesley’s challenge, most with limited success. In my estimation, none have taken it quite so seriously and realized it as successfully as IWS.

“To be part of this worshipping academic community is to witness first hand ‘the human mind being taught to worship and the human heart being taught to think!’ What a delight for my wife and I to be committed partners with this vital ministry to The Church of Jesus Christ!”

-R.J. Stamps, Ph.D., Dean of the Chapel
Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY

“IWS, founded by Dr. Robert Webber, to meet an unmet need of enriching worship and deepening spirituality, has grown dramatically in numbers and influence since its founding. I am impressed with its faculty, students, and growing influence for good.”

-Luder G. Whitlock, Jr.,
President, Excelsis

“IWS is a pioneer in convergence worship seeking to realize liturgically the Ancient-Future Church. I must say that, having attended some of their services recently, it has succeeded remarkably. The liturgy is enacted with theological integrity, and with evangelical and spiritual vibrancy. If anyone is looking for a place where convergence liturgy is done well, I urge them to visit IWS. Truly, Robert Webber’s vision lives on!”

-Simon Chan, Earnest Lau Professor of Systematic Theology
Trinity Theological College, Singapore

“The personal impact of Bob Webber on the worshiping church is remarkable in and of itself. But his influence goes way beyond what he personally researched, thought, said, imagined, taught, and lived out. In establishing the Institute for Worship Studies, he not only assured the ecclesiastical community of a continuing place for his own pedagogical wisdom, but generously welcomed the best kind of theologically sound ecumenism possible. IWS both includes and transcends Bob’s best work in its desire to serve the body of Christ in Christ’s name and to assure its students that whatever any leading scholars might teach or encourage, there is always room for the Holy Spirit to breath something new, contrasting, protesting, or reforming into existence. It is in this sense that while the institute bears Bob’s name, as well it should, it goes further and celebrates what it means to lose one’s personal identity in a Christ-centered flow of quality ideas, creativity, worship, praise, glory, and grace.”

-Harold Best, Noted author,
Dean Emeritus, Wheaton College Conservatory of Music,
Past President, National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

“The Institute of Worship Studies embodies the adventurous spirit of Robert Webber, taking delight in discovering the pre-Constantinian principles and practices of worship that have been forgotten by so many and showing their relevance to a post-Christendom world.”

-David Neff, as Editor-in-Chief of Christianity Today and the Christianity Today Media Group.

“I sincerely believe that the work that the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies is doing will have a significant impact upon the leadership of the church universal in a number of areas:

First in worship renewal, by training up leaders who understand the Biblical foundations and mandates of worship, and are conversant with current technological and artistic media

Second in worship discipleship, as this training takes place in a semi-monastic environment that values and encourages mentor/student exploration and discourse under the guidance of an expert faculty

Third in worship ecumenicism, as students and faculty bring their diverse theological heritages and worship experiences to team based learning practica.

My experience is that an IWS graduate will be an asset to any church’s worship ministry, and, indeed, will serve as a leader in any congregation.”

-Vernon Sanders, Publisher of Creator Magazine

Brian McLaren attends lunch during his June 2007 visit to IWS

“A lot of people are apathetic and oblivious to the challenges and changes we face as followers of Christ in the emerging culture. Others are aware of our growing list of problems – relating to worship, spiritual formation, leadership development, theology, mission, and more – but they do little more than complain, blame, or worry. Thank God for the people at IWS. They see the problems but instead of fretting and complaining, they are moving forward with innovative, creative, and redemptive action. They are creative innovators in how quality education can be delivered, and the content of their training “brings forth treasures old and new” to face today’s and tomorrow’s opportunities. Building on the rich legacy of their founder, Dr. Robert Webber, this community of learners is playing an important part in preparing the church of today for the world of tomorrow.”

-Brian McLaren, Author/Activist,
after a visit to an IWS on-campus session

“You are giving respect to practitioners as serious theologians. I saw in every single class practitioners, without apology, being invited to do hard theological reflection on their experience and being honored as persons who do so. That’s a big deal. You are sitting on the top of a revolution in theological education.

“I saw a kind of ecumenism (a theology that takes all comers for the sake of the world) that was respectful of the traditions in the room. I never heard a trivializing of [another’s] tradition. Lesslie Newbigin argued that if we were to reframe the ecumenical movement around missional issues—not as an ecclesial issue but as God’s mission—we could get rid of most of the problems without erasing difference among the churches. I saw that happening here.

“There is an open and inviting dialogue in the classrooms. I saw exemplary team teaching. This is a high virtue and hard-won achievement. I heard church musicians thinking theologically and feeling free to do so without fear that some theologian was going to shame them that they didn’t have the right answer, didn’t say it the right way, or hadn’t read the right German theologian.”

-Patrick Keifert, Professor of Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary and researcher and consultant with the non-profit institute Church Innovations. Read the rest of his experience on campus here.

“Bob Webber was an inspired and prescient observer of religion in North America, just as he was also one of its most informed and faithful Christians. Yet for all his remarkable lectures, insightful commentary, and invaluable books, Bob probably left the Church no greater gift than in the establishment of the Institute for Worship Studies which bears his name. What began in 1999 has matured and expanded to become a leading center for the advanced education and training of men and women seeking to work within the fields of Christian liturgy, music, art, and literature. Because of my own work as an observer and commentator on 21st century Christianity in North America, I am acutely aware that Christians yearn more now than ever before to understand, experience, and increase their faith through authentic worship and the incarnate joy of music and art, liturgy and drama. The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies exists for the sole purpose of preparing ordained and lay Christian leaders alike to address this growing need with professional competence and to the glory of God. It is a privilege to be able to add my name to the list of those who gratefully support the Institute’s work and expanding reputation for excellence in the field of worship studies.:

-Phyllis Tickle, Author and Commentator on Contemporary Culture