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Designing & Leading Christian Worship

The course equipped all of us for leading worship with a rich variety of sessions from fol

Online Practical Theology Short Courses
Trinity College Glasgow & Theology & Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

Course Description

This course is an introduction to designing and leading Christian worship services utilising theological and
historically rich patterns and practices and adapting these to participants contemporary church context. It will
stimulate participants to be reflective, recognise how worship works and become more skilled at designing and
leading meaningful, participatory acts of church worship. This course is accessible to those in a church who are
beginning to lead acts of Christian worship and for local church leaders who wish to refresh their understanding
and practice.

This is an open access course available as a 10-credit course (accredited by the University of Glasgow) or audit-only for those who just wish to engage with the learning programme for their own personal benefit.

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Mark Johnston is a Lecturer at the Dept of Theology and Religious Studies. He is an ordained Minister, having served in both the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and the Church of Scotland. For the past decade he has worked as a theological educator and ministry trainer for the Knox Centre of Ministry and Leadership, NZ, forming students for ordained ministry, and offering workshops in the wider church. He is a lover of the outdoors, curious about history and cultures and enjoys a good conversation over a beer.

The course equipped all of us for leading worship with a rich variety of sessions from fol

Jo Love is a Resource Worker with the Wild Goose Resource Group, a project of the Iona Community. She is a Deacon of the Church of Scotland and in previous posts, served the church in parish team ministry. With WGRG, Jo works to equip and enable churches in developing creative and participative ways of worshipping and living as people of faith in today's world. She loves walking, beach combing and a myriad of playful experiments with art and words.

Mark and Jo will be assisted in specific modules with special guests.

Timetable & Duration

20th January to 17th March, 2025

This course will take place on Monday evenings, 7-9pm, along with a Saturday workshop on the 15th of February. This course will be taught over 10 weeks in a hybrid mode of delivery with in-person meetings & instruction along with online provisions. Venues and online details will be made available following the closing date. There will be a one-week break.

Introduction to the course

This course introduces people to the practices of designing and leading Christian worship services. It helps participants to understand the role of the worship leader, how the Bible and theology shape worship, and how worship has been constructed in the past as well as how it works today in changing contexts. While there are striking differences between online and physical worship, knowing how to design worship from its core elements remains.


Leading worship then requires forming the space and language to enable people’s encounter with God. Attention will be paid to designing and leading for participation, creativity, intergenerational situations and forms appropriate to changing contexts, including the online environment. Skills for designing and leading will be introduced by experienced worship leaders and practiced within the class. Topics and skills covered will include:

  • The shape of Christian worship

  • Interpreting our context and designing appropriate forms (including worship online)

  • Centering worship around the Bible

  • Crafting a short sermon

  • Crafting communal prayer

  • Using songs and hymns in worship

  • Integrating art and multisensory aspects to worship

  • Intergenerational considerations in Christian worship

  • Leading with words, presence and posture

This course aims to:

  • Explore what happens in Christian worship, theological and historical principles, and the creative processes used to form and structure worship services;

  • Provide participants with a learning environment to develop critical reflection, confidence and skills to lead worship services in their context;

  • Engage participants to reflect on their own church tradition and the use of a wide range of worship and musical resources

  • Provide the opportunity to write or select prayers, music, readings and other elements and combine them into an integrated worship order that is biblically centred, sensitive to context, and engages participation.



Course information

Each learning module will be taught through a range of presentations, discussion, exercises, viewing and reading. Each week participants will be introduced to a range of materials, including video, articles, and resources for use or adapting to local worship contexts. Learning materials and interaction will be accessible using the learning platform, Moodle. Zoom will be used as a meeting tool for those who access the course online. Access to these tools will be supported by the University course administration. More information about the use of these will be provided once enrolled. 

Learners may choose to undertake assessments, and thus qualify for 10 credit points towards a Higher Education certificate or Glasgow University approved theology programme, or may engage with the learning programme for their own personal benefit without the final assessments. 


If you take the course for credit, the formal assessment for this course consists of the following:

  • Written reflection assignment on 2 observed services– 800 words, 30%

  • A worship service outline and written reflection on learnings from review of practical delivery– equivalent to 1200 words, 70%.


This second item will involve preparing a short service of worship (to be led live within 4 weeks of completing the taught course. This service will be reviewed (according to specified guidelines) by an external experienced worship leader/minister/priest in your church tradition. You will write a critical reflection how the service went and your learnings from the review. 

Support, guidance and feedback will be available to those completing assessment.



*Priority Area subsidy available for this course. Email for more information.

Sponsorship or subsidies may be available through your own church or denomination and we encourage you to approach them with the details of the course.

How to Apply


Notify your interest now via email:

Applications close on Friday the 13th of December 2024. 

If you are applying to access a short course online from the UK or internationally, please ensure you have communicated with outlining briefly your interest in the course and any experience relevant to the course you are applying for including any former higher or further education. This will help us to ensure you are able to achieve your goals and enjoy the short course experience.  


These courses are delivered through the University of Glasgow. We will contact you with more information and guidance regarding applying, completing your details and payment in time for the course start date. If you have any questions regarding the process, you can contact us on the above email address. 

If you have any difficulties with this process – please contact Heather (office administrator) at:

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