Samford University's Center for Worship and the Arts is now offering two online certificates: Worship Leadership and Worship Administration.

Online Certificate in Worship Leadership

Our first and most basic certificate. Created in partnership with Samford University’s Ministry Training Institute, this certificate offers an introduction to the basic principles and practices of worship leadership. Each course presents vital worship leadership practices as well as the principles.

Register below for all four courses or choose individual courses to suit your needs.

Register for the Full Certificate

Course 1 - Introduction to Worship Leadership

This introductory course surveys basic principles, strategies, and skills for worship planning and leadership. Attention will be given to best practices that contribute to a healthy and vital music ministry and worshipping community, including overviews of worship ministry's administrative, musical, and pastoral tasks.
Instructor: Emily Andrews
Text: Scheer, The Art of Worship: A Musician’s Guide to Leading Modern Worship


Course 2 - Designing Creative  Worship

Leaders called to serve the church through the ministry of music and worship should strive to become theologically perceptive leaders. This course studies musical, theological, philosophical, and technological principles that inform public Christian worship. Particular attention will be given to application through guided experience in multiple models of worship design.
Text: Cherry, The Worship Architect:  A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services


Course 3 - Biblical, Historical and Theological Foundations for Worship

Leaders called to serve the church through music and worship should strive to become biblically astute leaders. This course provides a biblical and theological foundation for Christian worship. Particular attention will be given to the application of principles through guided reflection on concrete worship practices including congregational prayer, Scripture reading, and celebrations of the Lord's Supper.
Instructor: Wen Reagan
Text: Chappell, Christ-Centered Worship


Course 4 - The Worship Pastor

Leaders called to serve the church through the ministry of music and worship should strive to become pastorally sensitive leaders. This course examines the roles, function, and theological considerations for the practice of pastoral worship ministry. Particular attention will be given to the worship leader's spiritual formation in private and corporate contexts.
Instructor: Zac Hicks
Text: Hicks, The Worship Pastor


Online Certificate in Worship Administration

A certificate for those who want to dig deeper in worship “behind the scenes,” by learning about administrative practices, basic technology, basic music theory, and preparing to lead worship through rehearsal. 

Register below for all four courses or choose individual courses to suit your needs.

Register for the Full Certificate

Course 1  - The Administration of Worship Leadership

Many key elements of worship leadership occur outside the weekly worship gatherings.  Learn to lead well behind the scenes during worship ministry’s other six days. Explore topics such as pastoral care, working with volunteers, facility design, and management.
Instructor: David Vaughan
Text: Bradley, Postlude to Prelude (2nd edition)


Course 2 - Worship Technology and Production

Learn the basics of both sound and projection technology for worship, including both a practical and theological introduction to their use in services, all from an accessible approach that translates the “geek speak.” Even a complete novice will end the course more comfortable engaging in the technical aspects of worship technology and production.
Instructor: Wen Reagan
Text: Wasem, Great Church Sound: A Guide for the Volunteer


Course 3 - Music Principles: Theory, Conducting and Arranging

The worship leader who understands basic principles of music theory, conducting and arranging is able to prepare a more comprehensive worship offering.  Using relevant language and terminology, this course takes classically-based music theory, conducting, and arranging techniques and applies them to music notation and methodologies used in contemporary worship music.
Instructor: Emily Andrews
Text: Nicolette, Contemporary Music Theory: A Guide for the Worship Musician


Course 4 - Rehearsing for Worship 

While liturgical styles may vary, most worship leaders are called upon to prepare a wide range of worship elements each week such as congregational music, choral music and/or music from a worship band, transitional language between songs, prayers, and other readings.  Rehearsing for Worship provides important guidance for rehearsing well, whether rehearsal involves a group of people or the worship leader alone. 
Instructor: Paul Ryan
Text: Douglas and Tami Flather, The Praise and Worship Team Instant Tune-up 


General Certificate FAQs

Who is the certificate designed for?

The Online Certificates are designed for avocational and bivocational worship leaders. High school students, media personnel, children and youth worship leaders, worship team members, and others who need training or want to refresh their skills in a vibrant, conversant, learning community.

Do I have to have a college degree to register?

Not at all! Our only requirements are an interest in worship leadership and a desire to learn, grow, and dialogue with others.

Do I get an actual certificate?

Absolutely. At the completion of all four courses, we will mail a certificate to you recognizing your study, learning, and successful completion of all four courses in our sequence.  While the courses provide quality biblical, theological and practical ministry education, the Certificates are non-degree program offered in partnership with Samford's Ministry Training Institute


Which certificate if right for me?

We recommend starting with our first certificate, the Online Certificate in Worship Leadership. It's designed for individuals who lead worship on a regular basis, but may not have had any training in worship leadership previously. You can start with the Online Certificate in Worship Administration if you want, but it assumes some basic theology, philosophy and practical skills in worship leadership that come from our first certificate. The first certificate is primarily for the "up-front" people, and the second certificate is primarily for "behind the scenes" folks.

How would I benefit from a certificate?

For starters, the certificates are a great addition to your personal resume; it shows your current and future employers that you are interested in worship in the church. Second, the certificates provide you with well-rounded training in worship leadership - from music to theology to ministry to leadership skills - the certificates cover each one of them. Third, the certificates will put you in an online community of worship leaders and worshipers who will become friends of yours this year, and we hope, in years to come.


When are the classes?

This year (2021-2022) our classes are as follows:

  • Course 1: August 24 – October 12, 2021
  • Course 2: October 26 – December 14, 2021
  • Course 3: January 25 – March 15, 2022
  • Course 4: March 29 – May 17, 2022

Do the classes meet at a set day and time?

No, you do the work at your own pace, when it's convenient for you: in the morning, over your lunch break, in the afternoon, or in the evening. You'll have due dates, but there is no set meeting time that everyone has to be online.

If I register today, do I have to commit to all four courses?

No, you can register for one course at a time ($199), but it's cheaper to register for the entire certificate at once.

What is the approximate workload per week?

We estimate 6 hours of weekly work in reading (each course has one book), lecture viewing (10-15 minutes each week), online discussion with class members (a few required posts each week), and writing a reflection paper of no more than 2 pages in length (12 in each course).

Who will be in the classes with me?

We market to a wide audience of avocational or bivocational ministers in the areas of music and worship; individuals in fulltime ministry positions who do not have a degree in a music or worship related field; and teenagers and college students interested in worship leadership.


What books will we read?

You’ll need one book for each course, and these are outlined in individual course details.

What other materials will I need?

The other materials you need are simple: you need a computer or tablet that can connect to the internet. You’ll need a pen and some paper or a notebook to take notes with, and you’ll need speakers on your computer or tablet so you can hear the online lectures. You’ll also need time to complete the work each week.

Will the books be the same each year?

Yes.   However, as these books are updated and new books are published, we will alter the content of our courses and certificates to stay current. In August, when we start a new cohort in the certificate, we’ll settle on the books and keep them as advertised through May so you can order all your books at once. We will let you know in advance if we change books for a particular course or certificate.


What are my payment options?

Pay for the entire certificate at the beginning of the first class ($699). You also can pay per class ($199) as they worship through the four courses. If you’re starting your second certificate, talk to us – we may have a discount for you!

What does this payment include?

If you pay for the entire certificate, the payment includes all four courses in the certificate. This means access to the online learning community at Samford where you’ll receive a video lecture each week, a handout with some materials, and access to others in each course and the certificate. You’ll also get access to the teachers of each course for eight weeks through email and video. These teachers will help you refine your worship leadership skills and sharpen your theological mindset to better equip the people you lead.

Do you have scholarships available?

At this time, we do not have scholarships available for the certificate. We do encourage you to see if your congregation might be willing to sponsor your enrollment in the certificate program or in individual courses. We would be happy to provide more information about the certificate and the course if that would help convince church leadership on your behalf.

I want to pay for someone else to attend. How can I do that?

Please contact the CWA office at 205-726-4524 or Tell us what you would like to contribute, and we will help you do so with ease and efficiency. You can go over to our “Give” page now and make a donation if that saves you time. Please note who and what the gift is going toward.