A Lay Leader’s Guide to Planning Worship Experiences

Learn How to Lead Spiritually-Informed and Community-Grounded Worship

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Are you a lay leader tasked with planning and guiding your congregation’s worship experiences? It’s a uniquely challenging role! "A Lay Leader's Guide to Planning Worship Experiences" is designed to equip you with the knowledge, practical skills, and spiritual insights you need to kindle the profound beauty of worship within your church.

As you shape worship experiences both within the sanctuary and beyond, you might feel like you’re working on a puzzle that’s missing some key pieces. How can you ensure you’re building worship experiences that resonate deeply in your community and context? What could it look like to diversify your congregation’s worship, opening up hearts and minds to out-of-the-box experiences while remaining spiritually-led? You may be seeking a deeper understanding of what worship truly is; in need of spiritual practices to ground you during the planning process; or simply looking for the practical tools and confidence you need in order to lead worship effectively.

You’ll close out this course by applying a real-world worship planning tool that will allow you to design different kinds of services. Join us as we dive into the intricacies of planning and leading worship experiences that touch the hearts and souls of your congregation!

What You'll Learn

  • Deepen Your Understanding: Dive into Scripture and tradition in order to grasp the essence of biblical worship.
  • Ground Yourself: Engage in meaningful spiritual practices that not only enrich your own faith but also inspire others.
  • Plan Engaging Services: Gain the building blocks you need to plan and lead worship experiences that touch the hearts and souls of your congregation.
  • Worship Beyond Walls: Explore the significance of worship both inside and outside the traditional sanctuary, adapting to the evolving needs of your church community.
  • Embrace Lutheran Traditions: Discover the rich tapestry of Lutheran worship and how it shapes your role as a lay leader.
  • Shake Things Up: Explore innovative ways to infuse music, prayer, and scripture with variety and vitality, making each worship experience unique.
  • Expand Your Worship Menu: Discover alternative settings and styles for worship, enriching your church's worship offerings and fostering a vibrant spiritual community.

About this Course

  • Modules


  • Learning Elements


  • Videos


  • Practices & Activities


  • Time

6 hours, 30 minutes

  • Price


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Here's What's Inside...

Get oriented to the course, meet your instructor, download the interactive handbook, and more.

In this module, you will:

  • Develop a definition of worship.
  • Explore biblical passages on worship.
  • Reflect on your worship experiences.

In this module, you will:

  • Understand that worship is active.
  • Consider how worship takes place in settings other than a church sanctuary.

In this module, you will:

  • Understand specifics about worship in the Lutheran tradition.
  • Become familiar with a Lutheran worship guide.

In this module, you will:

  • Explore some building blocks of a worship service.
  • Consider the scriptural foundations of these building blocks.
  • Use these building blocks to create a worship service plan.

In this module, you will:

  • Learn ways to add variety to the practices of music, prayer, and scripture.
  • Apply these ideas as appropriate to your own worship planning.

In this module, you will:

  • Learn alternative settings and styles for worship.
  • Consider how these different settings and styles could be a part of your church’s worship “menu.”

Find out your next steps as you complete the course and how to stay connected with your group. You'll also be able to submit feedback about your course.

You'll Learn How to Shift Ministry Models
Group of people praying worship believe. soft focus, praying and praise together at home. devotional or prayer meeting concept.

Worship can become rote and meaningless when approached thoughtlessly. If you find yourself with the weighty responsibility of leading your community in worship, why not dive into something more deeply transformational? Together, let’s prayerfully tackle the challenge of engaging with worship from a new lens, honoring the rich beauty of tradition, the particular needs and context of your congregation, and the potential for diverse and enriched experiences both within and outside the walls of your church.

Gain Instant Access

Here's everything you get for just $55:

  • A Path Forward: You’ll build your own plan for a specific worship event during this course, practically applying your learning as you go. Worship is more than an abstract concept, and we’re here to guide you through the nitty-gritty and the “how-to”!
  • Engaging Content: Learn from your engaging and knowledgeable facilitators through interactive videos and exercises.
  • Self-Paced Learning: Our online modules can be completed on your own schedule—and will remain yours to access after the fact! Feel free to reuse the course’s tools and review key concepts whenever you’d like.
  • Community Forums: Connect with other course participants, encouraging one another and walking through the shared journey of worship planning together.
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Meet Your Instructors

  • Darcy Mittelstaedt

    Darcy Mittelstaedt (she/her/hers) is a Deacon and the Bishop Associate for Leadership and Lifelong Faith Formation for the Southwestern Texas Synod ELCA. She has also served as a Camp Counselor at Carol Joy Holling Camp in Ashland, Nebraska; Minister for Communication at the Grand Canyon Synod ELCA; and Children, Youth, and Family Ministry Director at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chandler, Arizona. Her academic background includes a BA in Sociology/Psychology from Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska, and theological studies at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Deacon Darcy enjoys traveling in her free time.

  • Heather Hansen

    Heather Hansen (she/her) is the Associate Pastor at Abiding Presence Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas. She was a congregational youth minister for 12 years and a youth ministry coordinator for the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA for five years. Additionally, Pastor Heather taught Christian theology and Youth Ministry at Texas Lutheran University for 11 years. She wrote the curriculum for the Practice Discipleship and Discipling cohorts—both ELCA Youth Ministry Network ministry training. She has an MA in Children, Youth, and Family and an MDiv from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a lover of nature and God’s creatures, Pastor Heather spends much time outdoors and with the animals in the “mini zoo” at her home.

Connect as you learn

Connect inside the Faith+Lead Learning Lab

Learning happens best when you do it together with folks who are on the same journey as you are.

That's why our private social network, the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, hosts conversations about course content with other learners, instructors, TAs, and community leaders.

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Study together with a small group or congregation

Want to bring A Lay Leader’s Guide to Planning Worship Experiences to your Bible study, small group, or even your entire congregation?

Choose "Enroll a Group" at checkout and select how many people you'd like to provide access to the course. You can go through the course together in-person, watch lessons together via Zoom, or even create a private group in the Learning Lab where participants can connect asynchronously.

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