Designing and Leading
Christian Worship

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

Course Description

A practical introduction to designing and leading Christian worship services. Theologically-rich patterns and practices will be explored in light of contemporary church contexts. This course will encourage participants to be reflective, to recognise how worship works, and become more skilled at designing and leading meaningful, engaging acts of church worship, including worship online. This course is accessible to those in a church who are beginning to lead Christian worship and for local church leaders wishing 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.


Enrolment is now closed.


Mark Johnston is Pastoral Studies Tutor with GU 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.

Jo Love is 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 by Rev Dr Doug Gay (Trinity College Principal and author of God be in my Mouth: 40 Ways to Grow as a Preacher), Mr Iain McLarty ( Music & Choir Conductor, Worship consultant for Church of Scotland ) Rev Peter & Heidi Gardner (Pioneer Arts Minister, Artists) Mrs Kaila Pettigrove (Children’s & Family Worker, St Mark’s Drumchapel Parish Church) 

Further Information

Timetable & Duration

September 24th - December 4th, 2020

This course will take place online on Thursday evenings, 7pm-8.30pm GMT +1


This course will be taught over 11 weeks via 9 weeks of online real-time meetings & instruction, and 2 x 90 minute virtual workshops.

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 is suitable for learners from a wide variety of backgrounds including those new to university-level learning, and those familiar with it. 

Learners may either choose to undertake assessments, and thus qualify for 10 credit points towards a Higher Education certificate or other Glasgow University approved programmes, or who may just wish to engage with the learning programme for their own personal benefit. Graduates are equally welcome.

Course Information

This course is suitable for learners from a wide variety of backgrounds including those new to university-level learning, and those already familiar with it. 

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


“This course is conducted online. The directed online instruction will be explored in weekly real-time conversations along with materials and interaction using the learning platform, Moodle. Zoom as an online meeting tool will be used for the real-time conversations and online group times. Access to these tools will be supported by the course administration. More information about the use of these will be provided once enrolled. For technology you will need to have access to:

  • broadband/ wireless (at least 1.5 megabites per second up and download)

  • a computer with Dual core 2Ghz or higher and 4GB of RAM or Ipad with OS 13 or later,

  • minimum of Windows 7 or Mac 10.7.

  • a speaker and microphone, built in, USB or wireless Bluetooth

  • Webcam, built in or USB

Learning outcomes:


By the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Reflect on the task of worship leading and their own experience of worship in order to develop their practice of convening and leading acts of Christian worship;

  • Assess common patterns and practices to Christian worship and some of the theological and historical roots;

  • Apply creative, historical and contextually-appropriate resources for worship in particular contexts;

  • Know where to access a range of worship resources and how to adapt them to local worship needs;

  • Use skills in convening and leading worship.



Delivery & Assessment

Each learning module will be taught through a range of online discussion, exercises, and activities, viewing and reading. Each week students will be introduced to a range of online materials, including video, articles, and tools for use or adapting to your own local context.

In addition, learners who enrol for credit will be able to access digitised materials, articles, and books via the University of Glasgow's library.

The formal assessment for this course is optional and consists of the following:

  • Reflective assignment – 800 words, 30%

  • Practical Skills Assessment – equivalent to 1200 words, 70%.


This will involve preparing a short service of worship (to be led live within 6 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. Depending on health restrictions – an online version alternative will also be assessable with some modified guidelines.

Support, guidance and feedback will be available for all assessment.

Credit Award


Completion of the course carries with it 10 Undergraduate credit points for those who wish to undertake the formal assessments. 


£200 (this covers access to all resources and administrative costs).

Funds & Subsidies

Part-funding subsidies from Trinity College are available to leaders from Church of Scotland Urban Priority Area (UPA) parishes and to members of Glasgow Presbytery parishes via separate application directly to us. To be considered for a subsidy email your interest to Principal of Trinity College,, by 21st September, 2020.


Applicants should still register for the course by following the instructions under ‘How to Apply’ below. We are unable to provide the subsidy upfront so we ask you to pay the full fee initially and arrangements will be made for the subsidy as a direct grant subsequently.

Funds or subsidies may also be available through your own church for training or study purposes and we encourage you to approach them with the details of the course.






This link will take you to the Glasgow University Short Courses Enrolment page for this course. Enrolment for our courses close on 21st Sept. You will need to click on the date of the course further down and this will take you to a basket to purchase the course. Follow the instructions – including registering your details as a new applicant and then undertake payment (through their secure system) for the course. You will receive an email indicating success that you have enrolled. If you have any difficulties with this process – please contact or


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