The Center for Worship and the Arts is committed to providing excellent educational opportunities in worship leadership which expand beyond the campus of Samford University. Whether you are a volunteer or bi-vocational worship leader or a well-seasoned minister interested in additional equipping for yourself or your worship team, the CWA online certificate program offers access to biblically sound worship leadership instruction without the commitment of pursuing a degree or attending classes on-campus.

In partnership with Samford’s Ministry Training Institute, the CWA is excited to offer two online, non-degree certificate programs: the Online Certificate in Worship Leadership and the Online Certificate in Worship Administration. Taught by a combination of Samford faculty and additional professional worship leaders, the online certificate program consistently garners praise from participants for both quality of content and flexibility of schedule.

Online Certificate in Worship Leadership

The worship leadership certificate offers a strong foundation for biblically and theologically sound worship leadership.  This certificate is a great place to start if you are new to worship leadership or if you have been leading for a while and would benefit from additional theological training. Register for the full certificate or select only the courses of interest to you.


Register for the Full Certificate

Course 1 - Introduction to Worship Leadership

This introductory course surveys basic principles and skills for worship planning and leadership. Attention will be given to basic administrative and musical competencies as well as skills necessary to enlist, rehearse, and prepare service musicians and other leaders for a public worship gathering.
Instructor: Emily Andrews
Text: The Art of Worship: A Musician’s Guide to Leading Modern Worship (Greg Scheer)
Dates: August 24- October 12


Course 2 - Designing Creative  Worship

This course presents musical, biblical, and philosophical principles that inform the design of public Christian worship.  Students will be encouraged and equipped to be more theologically perceptive as worship planners and leaders. Particular attention will be given to application through guided experience in multiple models of worship design.
Instructor: Jonathan Welch
Text: The Worship Architect:  A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services (Cherry)
Dates: October 26-December 14


Course 3 - Biblical, Historical and Theological Foundations for Worship

Having an understanding of the history of worship equips leaders to be more biblically and theologically astute as they lead.  Particular attention in this course 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: Christ-Centered Worship (Bryan Chapell)
Dates: January 25-March 15


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:  The Worship Pastor (Zac Hicks)
Dates: March 29-May 17


Online Certificate in Worship Administration

The worship administration certificate provides training in the day-to-day activities required for effective management of a music and worship ministry.  Some administrative tasks remain consistent through the years and others seem to be continually changing with the times.  This certificate offers an overview of worship administration, insights into the use of technology and production in worship, guidance for music principles relevant to both modern and more traditional methodologies, and practical tips for rehearsing in a variety of worship styles.  Register for the full certificate or select only the courses of interest to you. 

Register for the Full Certificate

Course 1  - The Administration of Worship Leadership

This course presents various strategies for organizing a worship leadership ministry and the development of the administrative skills of the worship leader. Leadership and administrative models will be studied and explored. Additional topics will include worship philosophy, vocational calling, information management, facilities, purchases, scheduling, and cultivating appropriate relationships with clergy and laity.
Instructor: David Vaughan
Text: Postlude to Prelude ,2nd edition (Randall Bradley)
Dates: August 24-October 12


Course 2 - Worship Technology and Production

Learn the basics of sound and projection technology for worship.  Consider key theological principles as well as basic techniques and practices for both live sound and digital projection in worship using an accessible approach that translates the geek speak.  A complete novice will end the course more comfortable engaging in the technical aspects of worship technology and production while both novices and pros alike will leave more biblically and theologically equipped for this increasingly relevant aspect of worship ministry.
Instructor: Wen Reagan
Text: Great Church Sound: A Guide for the Volunteer (Jason Wasem)
Dates: October 26-December 14


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 (Andrew Nicolette)
Dates: January 25-March 15


Course 4 - Rehearsing for Worship 

This course is designed to equip you with wisdom and skills for effectively preparing for worship leadership.  Reflect upon personal strengths and weakness in your preparation for leadership, whether it be in prayer, scripture, song, or transitional words, alone and with an ensemble.  Course readings, presentations, written reflections, and practical assignments will guide your learning with the goal that you will be empowered to effectively rehearse for worship in your context.
Instructor: Paul Ryan
Text: The Praise and Worship Team Instant Tune-up (Douglas and Tami Flather)
Dates:  March 29-May 17


General Certificate FAQs

When can I register?

Registration opens for each new academic year on July 15th.  Students may register for full certificates or individual classes year round as long as space remains available.

Do I need to enroll in Samford to participate?

No, the online certificate courses are non-degree programs offered in partnership with Samford’s Ministry Training Institute.  Students who successfully pass all four courses in a certificate will be mailed a certificate of completion.

Do classes meet on a set day and time?

While each class has starting and ending dates, actual classwork can be accomplished at the student’s convenience.  You’ll have due dates for assignments, but there are not required, synchronous class meeting times.

How much time should I plan to commit each week to completing assignments?

While the actual times will vary, in general we estimate you’ll spend approximately six hours per week on course work.  You’ll be asked to view a weekly lecture video, read assigned texts, participate in online discussions, and complete 1 or 2 projects per class.

Are any discounts or scholarships available?

The CWA offers discounts for groups of four or more participating together.  While individual scholarships are not offered through the CWA, we’ve had many students through the years whose tuition fees have been covered by sponsoring churches or denominational headquarters. 


Students may enroll in one course at a time for $199 per class, or register for either full, four-course certificate for the discounted rate of $699.


I loved this course. It was so helpful in clarifying a foundation for theology, philosophy, history, and practice in worship. The combination of the four classes was a great balance of concepts, and the year-long time frame allowed the information to soak into my framework (and ultimately my worship planning) rather than drinking from a firehose at a short conference. Thank you for this great resource! It has absolutely impacted my vision for worship.
—Tim Vande Griend, Chino, CA

I think this is something I would recommend for anyone looking to grow as a worship leader.  Whether you are new to this calling or have been serving for a while, there is something new to learn in each class.  The community of students taking the courses together is a nice way to dialogue with people in similar (or different) situations and be able to bounce ideas off of and share the joys and stumbling blocks of worship ministry together.
—Lynn Stob, Cascade, MI

I totally recommend the Worship Leadership classes. Personally, I will never be the same after taking these classes. My insight into the "whys" and "hows" of worship has deepened. I was able to apply knowledge into my planning of the services. I have acquired not only informational knowledge, but also spiritual knowledge to be able to use my God-given gifts to bless others (including myself). These classes do not take a whole lot of your time, are very doable, and you will be better for it!
—Analu Riegstad, Pella, IA

I recommend this program with much excitement. My ideas of what worship was were challenged as well as my understanding of what worship is has become more concrete and is now eagerly expressed. The purpose of worship has become more directly focused on God and I can recognize the work of the Spirit as we prepare and lead our services! I lead with confidence as I spent the year building up my knowledge of worship. I have a clearer understanding of how our worship impacts our church as we give all the glory to Christ in the story that we tell through our services. He is Lord!
—Ashley Renkema, Edmonton, AB