The Doctor of Worship Studies degree was the first accredited doctoral program in the world with its entire curriculum formed around worship studies. It is designed for worship teachers, music ministers, worship leaders and pastors; every course deals specifically with worship and integrates the classic theological disciplines and biblical studies. Students who graduate from this course of study will be able to reflect on worship through the disciplines of Scripture, history, theology, and cultural analysis. All studies are geared toward the mission of the church to give witness to God’s redeeming work in the world and to fulfill the mandate of the Great Commission.
The purpose of the doctoral program is both to encourage spiritual formation and to educate, so as to prepare the student to minister to the minds and hearts of God’s people. IWS will help you:
- re-evaluate your personal spirituality and ministry in light of the shift from modernity to postmodernity.
- develop the ability to think deeply about your ministry as it relates to the disciplines of theology and to the ministries of the church.
- learn how to listen to the text of culture and to discern how biblical faith is communicated within the current post-Christian cultural setting.
- consider your own ministry goals as they pertain to the material of each course.
The D.W.S. program requires 34 credit hours and can be completed in 3 years.
Doctor of Worship Studies Courses
DWS 701: The Biblical Foundations and Historical Development of Christian Worship
Andrew E. Hill, Ph.D., and Alan Rathe, Ph.D., 6 credit hours.
Beginning with a study of the theology, institutions and practice of worship in Scripture, this course explores the ways in which biblical models can inspire worship renewal today.
The biblical foundations topics include: biblical worship and its theological foundations, the practice of worship as reported in the Old and New Testaments, the relationship between spirituality and corporate worship, the concepts of sacred time and sacred space, the Psalms in Hebrew and Christian worship, worship as spiritual warfare, and the Hebrew roots of Christian worship. The historical side of the course surveys Christian worship through the centuries in both the Eastern and Western Churches and historical shifts in how Christian people have understood God, the church, salvation and the church-culture intersection with respect to worship.
DWS 702: The Renewal of Sunday Worship: Music and the Arts
Constance M. Cherry, D.Min., and Jeff Barker, M.F.A., 6 credit hours.
Corporate worship of the triune God is the central, ongoing occupation of the Christian community. Yet worship is always offered in changing times, places and cultural contexts. Therefore worship renewal that is grounded in sound theological reflection is often necessary. This is especially true today as churches seek to take into consideration the shift into a postmodern world.
This course explores how the content, form, and styles of worship are enlivened through intentional worship design and the expression of the arts. Special attention is given to the ministries of music, the performing arts and the fine arts.
DWS 703: The Christian Year: Forming Congregational Spirituality
Daniel L. Sharp, D.M.A., and Jack Van Marion, D. Min., 6 credit hours.
This course focuses on the way the church celebrates the mighty acts of God in Jesus Christ through the observance of the Christian year. It deals with services of worship for the seasons of the Christian year, from Advent through Pentecost, and also addresses ordinary time and the daily office of prayer. Special emphasis is placed on the evangelical nature of the Christian year and on planning services that adopt the ancient traditions to current practice. Because the study of the Christian year inevitably leads to the Scriptures, this course guides students through the biblical and theological significance of each season, including the sanctoral cycle.
DWS 704: The Sacred Actions and Ministries of Christian Worship
Reggie Kidd, Ph.D., and Donna Hawk-Reinhard, D.Sc., Ph.D., 6 credit hours.
This course explores the sacred actions of worship, particularly baptism and Holy Communion, from biblical and historical perspectives. It also addresses the relationship of these two actions with Christian formation and pastoral care.
DWS 702P-704P: The Doctoral Practicum
Kent Walters, D.W.S., 2 credit hours total.
The Practicum Course is designed to enable students to explore and apply principles of worship renewal that correspond with their current course of study. Briefly, worship renewal is the recovering of biblical worship that recognizes the triune God as the subject of worship and leads the worshiper in appropriate response to God’s divine action in worship. The practicum experience allows students to focus purposefully and creatively on areas of worship renewal addressed in their classes and in their places of ministry.
Students collaborate to plan and lead the IWS community in worship on Friday, Monday and Tuesday evenings of each on-campus session. Following the 702P and 703P worship segments, fellow students and members of the faculty offer feedback for the purpose of celebrating and reinforcing the worship values that shape biblical worship and facilitate genuine worship renewal. Students receive a grade of pass or fail for the course, and must complete each course concurrently with the corresponding course in the DWS curriculum.
DWS 801: The Doctoral Thesis
Vaughn CroweTipton, Ph.D., and Jessica Jones, D.W.S., 8 credit hours.
The on-campus section of this class provides specific direction on how to write a thesis or prepare a project. Guidance is given on the specific nature of the proposal and the means by which a proposal is translated into a finished project. Special attention is given to the integration of the theological disciplines into thesis/project writing. Classroom time takes place on campus during the session following the completion of DWS 704.
Students then complete their thesis or professional project at their home site under the direction of a supervisor. They are encouraged to do a thesis/project that is integrated with their ministry. The method of doing a thesis follows the same pattern and expectation of the D.Min. thesis standards in seminary education.
Initially, one year is alotted for thesis completion.