Webber Institute Books

About Webber Institute Books

Webber Institute Books (WIB) serves as the publishing arm of the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies (IWS), which was founded by the late Robert E. Webber for the purpose of forming servant leaders in worship renewal with the perspective that “the road to the future runs through the past.”

IWS is the only school in North America dedicated solely to graduate education in the biblical foundations, historical development, theological reflection, and cultural analysis of worship. Its vision emphasizes that its graduates will “participate intentionally in the story of the Triune God” in order to “bring renewal in the local and global church by shaping life and ministry according to the fullness of that story.” In scope it is “evangelical in nature and ecumenical in outlook, embracing and serving the whole church in its many expressions and variations of the Christian faith, particularly articulated by the Ancient Church and its [contemporary] guardians….”

Those interested in obtaining further information concerning the Institute should consult its website.

Webber Institute Books are published in order to provide a means for disseminating to the general public varying and differing views concerning the many aspects of worship and Christian life. The ideas expressed in these published materials wholly remain the views of the authors themselves and are not necessarily those of either IWS or the publisher.

It is the prayerful concern of both IWS and the publisher that the information contained in these works will stimulate further reflection and discussion. The results of such exchange of ideas hopefully will enhance worship renewal within the various segments of the Christian church. Moreover, in keeping with the hopes and dreams of Bob Webber, may all that is done through this publishing enterprise enable Christians to reject the narcissistic patterns prevalent in contemporary society and give the glory to God who sent Jesus, the Christ, to provide for human transformation and in concert provided humans with the divine triune presence through the Holy Spirit.

Gerald L. Borchert, Founding Editor
James R. Hart, IWS President

Editorial Board

Dr. William Kirkwood, GENERAL EDITOR
Dr. Valerie Grissom
Dr. James R Hart
Dr. Andrew E. Hill
Dr. Robert A. Myers
Jennifer Nicholson
Dr. Rory Noland

Let's Get In Touch!

Do you have an idea that you think would make a great book on worship?

Webber Institute Books is actively recruiting writers from the IWS community to publish materials that align with the purpose, mission, and values of the Institute. If you are interested in writing for us, download this Webber Institute Books Information Sheet and follow the instructions for submitting your proposal.

We look forward to hearing from you!


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Books Published to Date

Worship Primer for Pastors and Planners

Windows on Worship

Tension: Empowering Christian Thought and Life

Music of Darkness

Performing the Plays of the Bible

Christ and Chaos

Strategic Portraits

The Gavel

The Mystery of Worship

The Storytelling Church

Worship Primer for Pastors and Planners: What You Wish You Learned in School

William D. Kirkwood (2023)

There has to be more to leading worship than what I’ve been doing. That nagging thought drove William Kirkwood to develop this primer on worship for all lead pastors and worship planners who have wondered the same thing. Most pastors come out of seminary with little training in worship yet are ultimately responsible for the worship life of their church. Most worship planners/leaders have musical and leadership skills but little theological background in worship. Kirkwood brings his decades of worship leading experience and education from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies into the pages of this timely book. He explores the biblical, historical, theological, and cultural foundations of worship and brings them together with practical guidance on how to create vibrant worship services that facilitate a divine-human interaction. The primer is written for leaders in contemporary “free” churches, traditional/liturgical churches, and charismatic/Pentecostal churches. Each chapter includes thoughtful exercises and questions to help in your own church context, as well as recommended resources for further study.

Windows on Worship

Wallace W. Horton (2021)

In the 52 insightful essays covering five areas-personal devotion, worship theology and practice, preparing for worship, the church year and worship, and worship that transforms lives — we see the depth of Dr. Horton’s heart, his great love for the church, and his passion for worship. This combination makes for compelling reading. The book could be an excellent resource for a weekly study for a team of musicians, a choir, a worship committee, or a source of topics for a pastoral staff discussion.

Tension: Empowering Christian Thought and Life

Gerald L. Borchert (2021)

Christians experience tension both in the church and in real life. The very nature of choice is a source of tension, and all humans are confronted daily with choices that can have significant impacts on themselves and those around them. What does it mean to live with freedom and to engage with our choices in a meaningful way?

“Our task as humans,” Borchert writes, “is to recognize what is science and what it is not. The task likewise is to recognize what the Bible claims to be hard truth or reality and what it does not. Our further task, therefore, is to recognize what is true biblical exegesis (interpretation) and what is merely an assumption concerning statements in Scripture. Our task is to work at understanding what statements are rooted in observable fact and what are theological or scientific reflections. In this pursuit of understanding, it is not a question of truth but the kind of truth that is present in an issue.”

In this book, Borchert reflects on a number of topics fraught with tension: Christian salvation; our personal mindset; the ancient understanding of “time”; the nature of human failure and suffering; and what it means to be Christ-like.

Music of Darkness: The Peril of Worshiping the Creation Over the Creator

Brian L. Hedrick (2021)

Idolatry is a sin, but can music actually be an idol? And is musical idolatry only found outside the church, or can it also be a temptation for Christian believers? As a lifelong church instrumentalist and music educator, author Brian Hedrick explores the dynamics of this phenomenon in our modern culture, then proposes a prescription to restore music to its proper biblical perspective.

While Hedrick enjoys the beauty and challenge of secular classical music, he has noticed over the years that the attitude of church musicians toward the higher ideal of music is strikingly similar to the way we revere Jesus Christ in worship. In the same way that we might say, “It’s all about Jesus,” Hedrick has heard church musicians say with equally great conviction, “It’s all about the music.” In Music of Darkness, the author urges individuals to put music back in its proper perspective and rightful place, both inside and outside the church.

Performing the Plays of the Bible: Seven Ancient Scripts and Our Journey to Return Them to the Stage

Jeff Barker and Thomas Boogaart (2020)

The narratives of the Scriptures have dramatic structure that suggests they were originally performed by the people of Israel. Performing the Plays of the Bible takes dramatic structure seriously and demonstrates how to move these ancient dramas from the page to the stage.

Here is a book for everyone who wants to better understand the Scriptures.

Christ and Chaos: Biblical Keys to Ethical Questions

Gerald L. Borchert (2019)

This work alerts readers to crucial questions that relate to areas of concern with which college/theological students and Christians in general often wrestle. Briefly, these areas focus on ethical and theological issues under the designations of “On” Chaos, Equality/Discrimination, Integrity, Battles Christians Fight, Government and Politics, the Meaning of Salvation, Defining a Christian, the Spirit World, Freedom and the Will of God, Divorce and Remarriage, Homosexuality, Encountering the Dark Side, Death, Heaven and Eternity, and Christian Worship. I have also included at the end a major Postscript on significant questions related to issues that are reaching into the future including: Refugees, Wealth, War, Euthanasia, Abortion, Birth Control and Sexual Activity, Genetic Engineering, Robotics and Transplants.

Strategic Portraits: People and Movements That Shaped Evangelical Worship

Robert A. Myers (2018)

Forward by Gerald L. Borchert

“Bob Myers walks us through the family photo album of people and movements that have shaped worship in many evangelical churches. Bob tells us how we arrived where we are so we can paint a new picture for a renewed tomorrow. Using accessible stories and engaging questions, he challenges the reader to reflect on her own perceptions and contexts. With a pastor’s heart and a scholar’s mind, Dr. Myers points the way to a hopeful future in congregational worship. This book is a welcome addition to anyone who wants to know the why of today’s worship conversations in order to describe what a church can do in the present.”
―William D. Shiell, President, Northern Seminary.

The Gavel: From Verdict to Victory

James C. Dodge (2016)

In The Gavel, Jim Dodge leads the reader through this well-told, realistic story to see the beauty, goodness and truth of the Gospel as it impacts just one life, a young man on the margins of society. As the story unfolds he is led by God working through a diverse “posse” of Christian leaders into participation, even immersion, in the life of God. The power of the Gospel, of community, of prayer, of apologetics, and of simple but deep love, all come to play in the conversion of our protagonist. And it is moving and inspirational.…

Why would IWS publish a novel about catechesis? Worship is famously referred to as the “source and summit of the Christian life.” The catechesis of the Church fills in all the rest. Together worship and catechesis work hand-in-hand to lead all who find themselves on a search for meaning in life to the fullness of the true life of God. This book is rooted in that journey. Come along with us to learn, see and experience an example of Ireneaus’ great dictum: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” ―From the Foreword by Dr. James R. Hart, President, The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies.

The Mystery of Worship: What Happens When Christians Worship?

Robert J. George (2015)

“You will be inspired by Bob George’s personal story, uniquely his own but one with which we can all identify… Bob Webber proclaimed that ‘worship does God’s story,’ corporate worship is a narrative of God’s redemptive work in history. This book reminds us that worship is a narrative, and that each of our personal stories is an important tile in God’s grand mosaic of the redemption of all creation in Jesus the Messiah.”
―From the Foreword by Dr. James R. Hart, President, The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies

The Storytelling Church: Adventures in Reclaiming the Role of Story in Worship

Jeff Barker (2011)

The Storytelling Church was WIB’s inaugural publication.

Jeff Barker is professor of theatre and speech at Northwestern College in Iowa and teaches in the doctoral program at IWS. He has written superb, worthwhile, and transformative stories that will inspire, provoke, and encourage readers seeking to enhance their worship experience and deepen readers’ capacity to faithfully serve God in their ministries.

“A remarkable book. So interesting. So faithful. The writing is superb. Leaders in churches are going to find much to ponder and agree with when they read it.” ―Eleanor Vandevort.