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Why pastors and church musicians need to study worship, hymnology, and philosophy of ministry

A primary focus of my ministry is teaching courses in the history and theology of worship, congregational song, and philosophy of ministry to future (and often current) church leaders. Here are some of the courses I have taught just this year:

  • History and Theology of Worship
  • Hebrew and Early Church Worship
  • Seminar in Baptist Worship
  • Arts, Architecture, and Aesthetics
  • Comparative Liturgies
  • Congregational Song
  • Philosophy of Ministry

I sometimes get asked however, “Why do pastors or church musicians need all that? Can’t pastors just study the Bible and theology? Can’t church musicians just study music?”

I firmly believe that it is exactly the fact that church leaders have not given attention to these subjects that has led to many of the problems we are facing in ministry and worship today.

To say it another way, if church leaders would give themselves to the study of what Scripture has to say about worship, ministry, music, culture, and aesthetics, and if they would take the time to understand how thinking and practice has developed through the history of Christianity, this would go a long way to helping churches be biblical in every aspect of their ministries and avoid potential pitfalls.

Future church leaders seem to recognize this when it comes to things like ethics, finances, and family matters. They know that studying what the Bible says about these things, how they have developed through history, and current thought and practice will help them navigate difficult waters of local church ministry.

But for some reason many fail to recognize the need to understand important issues underlying the most significant aspect of church ministry–its worship!

Pastors, church musicians, church leaders: give attention to these things! Study them. Read about them. Take courses in them.

Only then will you be equipped to lead Christ’s churches in these very important areas.

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.