Flow: The Ancient Way to Do Contemporary Worship

Lester Ruth; Th.D. Student Contributors
Abingdon Press
Published Year: 
Cover of "Flow: The Ancient Way to Do Contemporary Worship" book

Lester Ruth, Ph.D., research professor of Christian worship at Duke Divinity School, has written a book on how to plan and implement contemporary worship that honors tradition with contributions primarily by Duke Divinity students in the Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) degree program in liturgical studies.

The book, Flow: The Ancient Way to Do Contemporary Worship, was published by Abingdon Press in March. This practical how-to book will help churches plan and implement passionate and invigorating worship by break down into steps the process of re-thinking what the official or recommended order of worship is truly suggesting, so pastors and worship leaders can plan and lead a service of Word and Table that feels genuinely relevant and attuned to the congregation’s culture.

“Flow seeks to provide guidance to mainline congregations who sense that their contemporary services are clunky and lack full vitality,” said Ruth. “The book meets that goal by bringing insights about achieving good flow in worship from the originators of contemporary worship into conversation with early patristic sources. The result is a practical book aimed at helping congregations do the Word and Table order found in their service books in an authentically contemporary way.” Such service books include The United Methodist Book of Worship, Evangelical Lutheran Book of Worship, the Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or the Book of Common Prayer.

Each student contributor took a particular aspect of achieving that authenticity and unpacking it for worship leaders, pastors, and tech assistants. Another student wrote out a full service as a template, detailing what should happen with the spoken elements, the music, and computer graphics.

Student contributors were Zachary (Zach) Barnes, M.Div. ’19; Adam Perez, a fourth-year Th.D. student, Jonathan Ottaway, a third-year Th.D. student, Glenn Stallsmith, M.Div. ’17, a third-year Th.D. student, and Debbie Wong, M.Div. ’19, a first-year Th.D. student, all in liturgical studies; and Drew Eastes, M.Div. ’18, a second-year Th.D. student in homiletics and liturgical studies.

A historian of Christian worship with particular interests in the history of contemporary praise and worship, Ruth also was the co-author of Lovin’ On Jesus: A Concise History of Contemporary Worship in 2017 with Dr. Swee Hong Lim.