Varieties of Evangelical Worship: An American Mosaic

Team Members/Contributors

Melanie C Ross Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

Evangelical worship is arguably the most caricatured and the least understood of all American liturgical traditions. Most academic accounts of evangelical worship – now decades out of date – focus exclusively on sprawling suburban megachurches and a “seeker-service” model whose influence has waned significantly among evangelicals. There is pressing need for new work that brings together the best of liturgical scholarship with the best historical scholarship on American evangelicalism, and puts both in conversation with worship practices of contemporary congregations. My project, Varieties of Evangelical Worship: An American Mosaic, sets out to address this lacuna.

During the course of my sabbatical year, I plan to conduct ten ethnographic studies of diverse evangelical congregations across the United States. In each location, I will conduct interviews, attend services, and observe musical choices, patterns of prayer, homiletic practices, and approaches to baptism and communion. The findings from this research will enable me to construct a nuanced theology of worship that deconstructs harmful stereotypes, enlivens ecumenical understanding, and does justice to the problems and possibilities inherent to evangelical worship in the twenty-first century.

Image Title Year Type Contributor(s) Other Info
  “The Evolution of the ‘Frontier Ordo’: Anton Baumstark Visits Willow Creek” 2019 Journal Article Melanie C Ross
April 2019: 139-157
  “Evangelical Worship: A Conversation with Three Publics” 2019 Journal Article Melanie C Ross
International Journal of Public Theology 12 (2019): 178-194