Alumni Testimonies


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Thumbnail of Faulkner testimonial video
—Clayton Faulkner,
Faith Lutheran Church, Bellaire, TX

Thumbnail of Zarletti testimonial video
—Vincent Zarletti,
New Life Church, Princeton, MN

“I believe that God is moving across denominational lines to bring a needed balance of substance and spirit to Christian worship. The instruction I have received at The Institute for Worship Studies Florida Campus has greatly challenged and enriched my thinking about worship and community. Learning to worship with form and with freedom has given a new depth to what we do at my church. I have been filled with a new excitement so that I can say with the Psalmist, ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”‘ I feel a new kinship with all believers, and have an increased sense of awe and wonder as I come into corporate worship.”

—Tracy Ainsworth, Riverside Advent Christian Church,
Fort Worth, Texas

 “The I.W.S. experience has transformed my own spiritual life. The worship services alone have impacted my personal worship like nothing else I’ve ever known; and, of course, God has used my own personal renewal to continue His work of worship renewal in my congregation.”

—Greg Barmer, First Baptist Church, Washington, North Carolina

“How can I communicate the timeless truth in an ever-changing culture? By taking what was, combining it with what is, and all the time keeping an eye on what will be. The Doctor of Worship Studies program helps me do that, especially with regard to the past and the eye towards what will be. The exposure to other traditions and styles of ministry is giving me a broader exposure to worship, and helping me to evaluate what I do. The challenges to expand my concept of worship to include arts other than music, and to think historically about worship, are helping to prepare me to minister to new generations and to help them worship our eternal God.”

—Steve Blasdel, First Evangelical Free Church, Wichita, Kansas

“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.”

—Eric Bolger, Ph.D., College of the Ozarks, Branson, Missouri

“Finally, there is a place to receive well-rounded, theologically balanced training for committed worship leaders. With the breaking down of denominational barriers in the twenty-first century, it is imperative that we learn from one another’s history and passions. I am most impressed with the ecumenical composition of the faculty and student body. The class size and format give the students time to interact and learn from each other as well as from the excellent faculty. I am delighted and blessed to be in the doctoral program at The Institute for Worship Studies Florida Campus.”

—Julie Gibson, Southminster Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho

“The Institute for Worship Studies has given me a renewed passion for worship, and it shows! We have moved in our congregation from a place of having no teaching on worship to a point where we offer a regular Sunday school class and Sunday night elective on the subject. In our most recent elective, thirty people met, representing over seventeen different denominational backgrounds, all seeking how we might achieve renewal and learn to appreciate the diversity in our midst. To say that is exciting is a great understatement!”

—Steve Clarke, Breiel Boulevard First Church of God,
Middletown, Ohio

“The impact of the I.W.S. doctoral program has been immense. The quality of teaching, the rich fellowship of the student body, and the nurturing atmosphere are unprecedented, and a welcome change from the normal academic environment. The educational opportunity with its impact upon the individual and church is filling a void that has existed far too long. As a result, it is now possible for the church musician to integrate strong musical training with sound biblical and theological training. This is bringing new vitality to the worshiping church. Thank you, I.W.S. and faculty.”

-Marvin L. Crawford, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder, Colorado

“My experience with The Institute for Worship Studies Florida Campus has been both renewing and challenging. In fact, my time in class there has been one of the most renewing times of my life. This is because of the combination of rich interaction with fellow students as well as challenging teaching from high-quality faculty. I believe it is essential that this kind of education exist, so that worship leaders will be better grounded in the theology of worship. The church is definitely in need of thoughtful worship leaders.”

—Dale B. H. Dirksen, Briercrest Bible College, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada

“The Institute for Worship Studies D.W.S. program is a place where diversity meets unity through worship. The common goal of all is worship renewal; the result is oneness in spirit.”

—Ryan Forbes, North Broad Baptist Church, Rome, Georgia

“I have been a worship leader for fifteen years, but the last nine months have been the richest part of ministry because of what I have learned at the Institute for Worship Studies. It seems that each week I gain a greater understanding of the mysteries of Christ, and how our worship needs to reflect our reverence for Him. It is also a blessing to learn together with worship leaders outside my denominational background, and to experience how God is at work in His church universal.”

—Samuel D. Green, Ed.D., Trevecca Nazarene University,
Nashville, Tennessee

“I have found the D.W.S. program to be scholarly, yet practical; academic, yet inspirational; and scripturally grounded, yet culturally relevant. The quality of instruction, the strong sense of community, and the warmth and depth of our times of worship result in a uniquely challenging, refreshing, and stimulating on-campus experience. I wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend this program!”

—James R. Hart, President, IWS

“I appreciate the Doctor of Worship Studies program for its practicality and its ability to stretch the students in their ministry and walk with the Lord. The teachers are concerned about each person, and diligently seek to encourage them in their course pursuit. The meal times are special times of fellowship and encouragement, as the students and faculty interact with one another on a more informal basis. Lasting friendships with people in the same profession are invaluable as we pray, sing and study with each for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom and the worship of the Almighty.”

—Phil Hoyer, Carlsbad Community Church, Carlsbad, California

“The D.W.S. program through the Institute of Worship Studies Florida Campus has ignited my passion to learn as much as possible about the authentic worship of God. It has also underscored the reality that we as worship leaders have an incredibly high calling; the planning and designing worship that has God as its center and uses Scripture as its inspiration. It is critical that we as leaders understand the course the worshiping church has traveled over the centuries if we are to offer any insight and understanding to the worship environment of our future. As worship leaders, we need to be fluent in the languages, sounds, colors, visuals and textures of worship. We must learn to articulate God’s timeless message through forms that are relevant to the hearer and that do not compromise the standard of God’s truth. This is the goal of The Institute for Worship Studies. I.W.S. seeks to prepare worship leaders through the instruction and understanding of what it means to be a worshiper. Authentic worshipers can then lead people into meaningful worship experiences. Students will find a faculty that is unparalleled in knowledge and experience coupled with a deep sincere concern for each student as a child of God. The program far exceeded my expectations in terms of depth of scholarship, relevance to the culture of today, and concern for me as a student. Words cannot adequately express the tremendous impression The Institute for Worship studies has made on my professional and spiritual life.”

—Greg Lundberg, Central Baptist Church, Springfield, Illinois

“Being accepted into the Doctor of Worship Studies program has been a highlight in my career of music education and being a church musician. The emotions generated in the first session were the most moving I have ever experienced. Also, the Dean and faculty have most supportive in every way.”

—Jacqueline Marsh, Neptune Beach, Florida

“My studies at I.W.S. have inspired our corporate and private worship. The focus of our music ministries has intentionally moved from performance to worship leadership. Our church has been very supportive of worship renewal and the vision God has given me through the I.W.S.”

—Jonathan Nelms, First Baptist Church, Cookeville, Tennessee

“The Institute for worship studies is not for those who have a narrow view of Christendom. The time spent on the campus is a wonderful experience in exploration of style and structure in worship. I have met some very talented and committed worship leaders whom I now consider friends. The curriculum is as thorough, diversified, and enriching as it is personalized to each student’s needs. I like the fact that faculty members encourage discussion in our sessions. These instructors have a passion for worshiping God. They are genuine. One of the most powerful effects of our time on campus is the bond created between faculty and students by having all our meals together and the times of corporate worship.”

—Frank J. Nihart, First Baptist Church, Troy, Alabama

“The Institute for Worship Studies has been an invaluable resource for my ministry. The majority of those leading worship today are trained musicians who have been thrust into the arena of worship leading because of their musical skills. Prior to my enrollment in I.W.S., I had received no formal training in the theology and practice of worship. I have long felt like the sorcerer’s apprentice, tinkering blindly with powers beyond my comprehension. Worship is at the leading edge of modern church renewal, and in the next ten years, The Institute for Worship Studies will emerge as a premier institution for the study of biblical and historical worship. Your support of the I.W.S. will have a direct impact on the lives of thousands of worshipers, as worship leaders like me continue to find the training we so desperately need.”

—Bill Price, First Baptist Church, Rochester, Minnesota

“The Institute for Worship Studies has provided an awesome opportunity to study worship with those who have dedicated their lives to it. Both individually and corporately, lives are changing and worship is being renewed not because worship has changed, but because we are making a conscious effort to understand all its ramifications. Our efforts extend past our local congregations and ourselves as we look forward to making an impact on the world.”

—Ken Rushing, Shiloh Baptist Church, Plant City, Florida

“When I saw this new program promoted in Worship Leader magazine in 1998, my heart leaped. I thought to myself, ‘This is it—I have found it! This is the school that will complete my education’ The week I spent in Jacksonville was a best learning-living-experiencing week in my spiritual journey. What a refreshing time!”

—Eliyah Shira, Arlington Chinese Bible Church, Arlington, Texas

“The D.W.S. program has revolutionized my perspective on worship. Through the lens of this new understanding, I can make sense of what I see happening in today’s churches and anticipate what is yet to come. Dr. Webber’s keen assessment of the postmodern mind and its spiritual hunger resonates with my ‘Generation X’ students. This is the kind of training we need if we are to craft relevant worship experiences in the twenty-first century.”

—Brian D. Walrath, Spring Arbor College, Spring Arbor, Michigan

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