The Worship Architect

A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services

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"This book is instructive and useful. Built on solid biblical and theological principles that liturgical scholars have tested and found trustworthy for generations, The Worship Architect is a welcome contribution."--Timothy Matthew Slemmons, Interpretation
There are many books available on the topic of worship today, but few provide a comprehensive, practical method for worship design. In The Worship Architect, worship professor and practitioner Constance Cherry offers current and prospective worship leaders a blueprint for designing worship services that foster meaningful conversation with God and the gathered community.

The metaphor of an architect is used throughout the book to illustrate how persons responsible for worship in the local church function similarly to architects: They envision the concept, do the ground work, develop a plan, establish the framework, create focal points of beauty, and design it all with a special purpose in mind. In the case of worship, the purpose is for the community to be in relationship with the one true God through Jesus Christ. This book provides a reliable architectural plan for designing worship on a weekly basis. It sets forth basic principles and demonstrates how those principles are conducive to virtually any style of worship practiced today in a myriad of Christian communities. Readers will learn how to create services that are faithful to Scripture, historically conscious, relevant to God, Christ-centered, and engaging for worshipers of all ages in the twenty-first century.

Professors and students in worship courses will appreciate the book's thorough and systematic approach, while pastors, church leaders, and worship planning teams will value its practical guidance on structuring a worship service.


"Cherry shows us that pastoral theology and the practice of theology is never an 'either-or' but always a 'both-and.' Let's follow her lead and rediscover the unity that exists between the two."--Robert E. Webber, author of Ancient-Future Worship

"Cherry's book is one I have been hoping for. The Worship Architect is a helpful combination of solid theology, artistic creativity, pastoral sensitivity, and wisdom gained from the author's wealth of experience in leading and planning worship."--Lester Ruth, Research Professor of Christian Worship, Duke Divinity School

"Congratulations to Constance Cherry for offering a much-needed guide for planning worship in our divergent and often antagonistic context of Christian worship. The Worship Architect offers biblical, historical, and theological material to help readers understand the choices before worship planners and leaders today. Cherry then offers worship leaders practical and responsible recommendations for discerning among the options they face. This is a most welcome book for a crucial time."--Todd E. Johnson, Brehm Chair of Worship, Theology, and the Arts, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Many books about corporate worship focus on style and technique, neglecting theological substance. Others are substantive but neglect the vital role that stylistic choices and approaches to planning have in the week-in, week-out life of congregations. Cherry approaches her task by inviting us all to make regular border crossings between theory and practice. The result is a book well suited to promote the lifelong learning needed for any effective ministry leader."--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Constance M. Cherry

    Constance M. Cherry

    Constance M. Cherry (DMin, Northern Seminary) is professor emeritus of worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, where she taught from 2004-2020, and is a founding faculty member of the Robert E. Webber Institute for...

    Continue reading about Constance M. Cherry


Named the "Best of the Best" for 2010 by Worship Leader magazine

"A book that is both theoretical and very practical. . . . Constance Cherry provides a systematic approach that is also spiritually tuned to design meaningful worship services that help congregations grow in relationship with God and with each other. Cherry puts tools in the hands of worship leaders that lead to scripturally faithful, engaging, Christ-centered worship, regardless of your church's faith tradition, demographics, or musical style."--Andrea Hunter, Worship Leader

"[Cherry] has given the worshiping artist, the pastor, worship leader, and worship community a wonderful tool and blueprint for worship. This book is classic and will be as helpful and inspiring 20 years from now as it is today. . . . Cherry is sensitive to context and delivers wisdom that can be implemented in a service of worship regardless of faith tradition and orientation. With Christ as the cornerstone, a foundation of solid theological/biblical/spiritual understanding, and very practical considerations, Cherry blends theory and practice to guide worship leaders in building a house of corporate prayer that is participatory and transformative. This is a must for your worship library and a ready reference for years to come."--Andrea Hunter, Worship Leader

"[This book is] designed to be best used by those who practice the art of worship leadership--pastors, students, and worship teams. . . . Clearly evident is the reality that Cherry is above all a practitioner of worship, and her writing invites the reader into the same role. By placing reflection questions at the start of each chapter, Cherry allows the reader to explore any pre-conceived notions on a given topic prior to reading. In providing a glossary of key terms and brief bibliography at the end of each chapter, the author invites further study. Finally, the offering of substantial practical suggestions and exercises for those engaged in the process of designing worship encourages immediate application of learnings. . . . The engagement and organization of her material is excellent, and challenging to both the new and seasoned worship designer. What Cherry successfully does is to transcend particulars of denominational or theological practice and approach worship in a more holistic way. . . . Cherry's book will find a solid place in the hands of worship designers and students of worship."--Kandace Brooks, Asbury Journal

"Most Protestants could find this a God-send. Don't let the word 'blueprint' fool you--these are mature, thoughtful, insightful ideas."--Byron Borger,

"If you are looking for a book that covers the basics of worship theology, history, and practice, this is the one to get. . . . The two appendixes at the back ('Ten Basic Steps in Designing Vital Worship' and 'Checklist for Designing Vital Worship') are another practical resource. Definitely a book worth spending time with, especially as a worship committee or planning team."--Reformed Worship

"Every chapter is filled with helpful charts, tables, questions to ask oneself, and glossaries. [Cherry] provides ample notes and a good index. This book is designed to be useful and to be used. . . . Worship is not going to church. Worshiping means expecting to engage the living God, and to be changed. Constance Cherry communicates that point forcefully and articulately to a contemporary readership, across denominational lines."--Pierre W. Whalon, Living Church

"The book proceeds from a solid biblical foundation, gleaning rich liturgical insights from the Epistle to the Hebrews. . . . I appreciate Cherry's painstaking theological analysis of each worship element, the perspective in which stylistic questions are placed, and the remarkable breadth and diversity of traditions that warrant her serious and charitable consideration. Especially welcome is her covenantal emphasis. . . . With vocabulary sections, study questions, schematic diagrams, and practical suggestions, this book is instructive and useful. Built on solid biblical and theological principles that liturgical scholars have tested and found trustworthy for generations, The Worship Architect is a welcome contribution and a fitting tribute to the late Robert Webber, to whom Cherry dedicates it."--Timothy Matthew Slemmons, Interpretation

"Much of the book is intensely practical and has a lot of down-to-earth guidance for the planning and leading of worship, but is also comprehensive in the sense that the author makes clear the biblical principles and historical practice behind her assertions. It is structured for use [in] courses: each chapter is preceded by discussion questions, and concludes with a summary of key points and terms, as well as suggestions for further study and activity. But it's fine for individual study and reading as well. . . . I found it an encouraging, useful, and affirming book, and would recommend it to any worship leader. Also, I couldn't help thinking what a good thing it would be if it finds its way [into] ministerial training courses."--Martin Brasier,

"This book by Constance Cherry brings together theory and practice in a helpful and accessible form. Her professional and personal connection to [Robert] Webber is evident in the book, which means that she is writing on a solid theological foundation. Her own unique contribution to the task, however, is evident both in content and in her choice to employ an architectural model as a structural metaphor for the work. . . . The helpfulness of the text is increased by the addition of up-to-date bibliography and hints on how to use the book in worship planning meetings with congregational staff or leadership teams. . . . A useful, practical guide that makes a valuable addition."--Jeff L. Hensley, Review and Expositor

"Cherry is herself a worship practitioner, with many years designing and leading services as a pastor or minister of music. That experience informs every page of this book, and is demonstrated in her well-chosen examples that show a keen eye for real-world worship-planning problems. The solutions she puts forward are not merely pious clichés, but the result of deep reflection. . . . As an aid to its use in teaching, important terms are highlighted and identified in each chapter. Opening and closing discussion questions and practical exercises together with solid content make the book ideal for many pedagogical contexts. It is easy to see the book as a central text in an undergraduate course, or in an introductory seminary course on worship, appropriately supplemented. I plan to use it myself in the coming year."--Ron Rienstra, Doxology: A Journal of Worship

"The Worship Architect is a helpful volume for many reasons. First, it provides an accessible introduction to the theology of Christian worship and articulates this theology in concise summary statements. Second, it presents an excellent introduction to the four-fold structure of Christian worship. . . . Third, in a time when many evangelical churches have essentially reduced 'worship' to singing, this volume winningly articulates the importance of Scripture reading, the Lord's Supper, corporate prayer, and the benefits of following the church calendar. . . . Finally, The Worship Architect commends a model for Christian worship that nicely acknowledges stylistic and cultural issues but seeks to establish transcultural structures and principles essential to Christian worship everywhere. . . . An excellent introduction to the theology and design of Christian corporate worship and one I heartily recommend to all worship leaders and pastors. With its scope and insight, it is one of the primary texts I assign for my Christian worship course."--H. Wayne Johnson, Trinity Journal

"Given its aim as a textbook and resource for practitioners, it includes helpful exercises at the beginning and end of each chapter for individuals and groups. The book is particularly good at drawing on biblical texts as sources for the theology and practice of worship. Another effective element is an even-handed analysis of the potential liturgical functions of various kinds of music. . . . Its strength is its potential for helping Christian worship planners and leaders unwind any real bifurcation between theology and action in worship. The book is highly recommended for introductory courses in worship planning and for practitioners outside the academy."--Keith Starkenburg, Religious Studies Review