School of Music


Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS)


Thomas Seel


Worship, Liturgy, Corporate, Congregational, Singing, Song


Liturgy and Worship


For several hundred years, in response to Charles Finney’s innovations, American churches emphasized evangelism over worship within corporate worship services. This approach redirected the vertical focus of corporate worship from God to the horizontal focus of non-believers as the primary audience. The Bible supports a horizontal audience for corporate worship for edifying fellow believers, but non-believers as the primary audience of corporate worship is contrary t¬o both the Bible and most of church history. The purpose of this project is to establish the necessity of worship preceding evangelism by examining their relationship through biblical exegesis, scholarly literature, and church history to establish the purpose of congregational singing. If church congregations participate in evangelically focused services, where the gospel doctrine is regularly sung, then these believers will remain shallow in their faith and fail to grow in their knowledge and worship of God. Corporate worship songs, which edify, will teach believers biblical doctrine and deepen their faith. When discipleship occurs in corporate worship, evangelism becomes a by-product, as non-believers witness true worship. As evangelistic music made its way into the church, it did so into services intentionally designed with an evangelistic focus. With church services reduced to a single service per week, congregational worship should return to its main priorities of corporate worship: God as primary, discipleship as secondary, with the by-product of evangelism. This qualitative research project seeks to determine how the relationship between worship, discipleship, and evangelism applies to the music used in corporate worship services.