From our Students & Alumni

Fresh out of your undergraduate studies and not sure yet if graduate school is the right decision at this time in your life? Have you been out of the classroom for a while and have some understandable concerns about returning to the academic realm? Maybe you’re not a worship leader–maybe you’re not even employed by a church–and you’re concerned that you might not fit into the IWS community. Maybe your church background doesn’t look very much like some of the pictures right here on the website. Is IWS for you?

The Institute for Worship Studies will encourage you to think more deeply and purposefully about your own tradition’s approach to worship. Both degree programs are crafted in such a way as to be highly applicable and practical; rather than accumulating mere “head knowledge,” our students are expected to apply what they’ve been learning within their own ministry contexts.

    • Dr. Eric Bolger“The D.W.S. program provides the theological and biblical foundation that so many worship leaders and ministers of music are missing. Students are given spiritual resources they have hungered for but not known where to look: the rich historical reflections on worship by the Church, the deep biblical affirmations about the God we worship and how this God calls us to worship, and an understanding of how culture has and continues to influence worship and how it is expressed and interpreted. In addition, students become part of a learning community with connections to others church leaders that are encouraging and will last a lifetime.”

      Dr. Eric Bolger, Alumnus (D.W.S., '02), IWS Trustee & Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at College of the Ozarks

As an IWS student, you will learn to approach Christian worship in a way that is grounded in biblical theology and church history, with a particular emphasis on postmodern spirituality, worship and the arts, and the church’s role in a transcultural world. All of our students, whether they’re in the M.W.S. program or the D.W.S. program, are immersed in what our founder Bob Webber called “the four-fold order of worship” (i.e., Gathering, The Word, Communion/Thanksgiving, and Sending).

While we have many worship leaders and music ministers in our student body, IWS has enjoyed an increasing number of senior pastors, teachers, theologians, and missionaries in recent years. Students don’t necessarily need to be employed by a church in order to begin a program at IWS. Rather, our students simply need to have a ministry context that they call their own and into which they can apply what they’re learning at IWS. Perhaps your context is a congregation or a classroom. Perhaps you volunteer in your church’s worship team on a regular basis, or perhaps your main passion is ministering to those in prison, serving the needy in the inner-city, or participating in God’s Kingdom work through some other community outreach. Regardless of your ministry context, IWS has a place for you!

Finally, the networking and fellowship within the IWS community is second to none. During any given on-campus session, we have upwards of 50 different denominations represented among the faculty and student body. You will meet other Christian leaders and teachers who share your same visions, passions, struggles, and questions. IWS is an environment that fosters and nurtures these relationships over shared meals, morning chapel sessions, and evening worship workshops. A recent student described his first on-campus intensive experience as “a mix between worship school and summer camp!” We are a community that prays together, studies together, and grows together, and we would love to have you join us.

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