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Exploring Contemporary and Alternative Worship


The Rev. Nelson Cowan, PhD
[email protected]

Mission Statement

The members of and visitors to this seminar track developments in “contemporary” worship (seeker services, praise-and-worship services, convergence worship, and “traditional” services that “blend” in elements from these other kinds of services). We research particular faith communities’ worship, as well as the general trends in worship and music styles, liturgical art, architecture, and seminary education for those preparing to become worship leaders in these worship settings, Protestant and Catholic.

2020 Seminar Agenda

Friday, January 3rd

8:30AM–8:40AM | Welcome & Introductions

8:40–9:25 | Taylor Burton Edwards – “Shame in the CCLI Top 100”

9:30–10:15 | Emily Snider Andrews – “The Worship-Rooted Lifestyle: Exploring Evangelical Ethics at Bethel Church, Redding, California.”

2:15–2:55 | Swee Hong Lim – “Transnational Migration of Sources for Chinese Contemporary Praise & Worship Songs”

3:05–3:45 | Haejun Park – “2019 Worship Conference: Let the Worship Say”

4:30–5:10 | Jim Marriott – “Disrupting the Dichotomy: How Intercultural Music Changes the Contemporary/Traditional Conversation.”

5:20–6:00 | Alydia Smith – “Questioning Worship: Engaging All God’s People Worship”

Saturday, January 4th

8:30AM–10:15AM | First Time Visitor Short Communications

8:30–9:00 | Glenn Stallsmith – “The Path to a Second Service: Mainline Decline, Church Growth, and Apostolic Leadership”

9:05–9:40 | Adam Perez – “Worship Conferences in the 1980s: A Family Tree”

9:45–10:15 | Nate Myrick – “Whiteness and Multicultural Worship” 11:00AM–12:30PM

11:00–11:40 | Billy Kangas – “Unique Forms of Worship within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal”

11:50–12:30 | Noel Snyder – “Pairs with Hillsong: Musical Features of Brian Houston’s Preaching”

2:00PM–3:45PM 2:00–2:30 | Ed Phillips – “(Still) Making a Case for Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry in a Contemporary Worship World”

2:40–3:10 | Outstanding Questions, Points of Discussion

3:15–3:45 | Business Meeting & Ideas for 2021

2019 Seminar Agenda

Friday, January 4th
Contemporary Worship – Explicit & Implicit Theologies
Emily Snider Andrews, “The Sacramentality of Modern Worship Music at Bethel Church, Redding, California.”

David Lemley, "Contemporary Worship Music (CWM) as Functional Sacrament: Observations about Affect and Ordo."

Nelson Cowan, “Mrs. Murphy is Wearing Skinny Jeans: Liturgical-Theological Reflections from Hillsong, New York City.”

[1.5hrs - Lunch on your own]

Midday Prayer

Glenn Packiam, “Encoded Hope in Contemporary Worship in North America.”

[1hr - Break]

Historical Explorations

Eric Mathis & Christian DaPonte, “A Working History of Teenage Youth Worship Practices in the United States.”


Billy Kangas, “The Word of God Community: A Primordial Soup for Contemporary Catholic Worship”

Saturday, January 5th
Alternative Worship Practices
Casey Sigmon, “Can I Take Your Ordo? Reflections on Dinner Church Liturgies.”

Ron Rienstra et. al., “Beer & Hymns: Reports from the Field.”

[Plenary Address, Lunch]


More Beer & Hymns Reports (if needed)
Exploring Contemporary & Alternative Worship Seminar Evaluation / Business Meeting                      

2018 Seminar Agenda
Friday, January 5

Lester Ruth and See Hong Lim, “The WFX Technology Conference with Implications for Contemporary/Modern Worship”

Lester Ruth and Swee Hong Lim, "Merging the Streams: Pentecostal and Mainline Origins of Contemporary Worship"

Nelson Cowan: “Liturgical Biographies at Hillsong New York City: Data and/or Theology?”

Saturday, January 6
9:30am-noon Pronouns in Worship Taylor Burton-Edwards, “Pronouns and Titles Addressing God in the 2017 CCLI Top 100”

Convener Election and Planning for 2019