Ron Rienstra

Ron Rienstra is associate professor of preaching and worship arts at Western Theological Seminary and co-author of Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry (Baker Academic, 2009).

Articles by this author:

  • First Things First

    Centering Our Praise in God

    Each spring at Western Theological Seminary we hold an end-of-year awards convocation, as do many educational institutions. It’s a special ceremony to celebrate God’s gifts to the whole community and to honor students who have made particularly good use of those gifts. Awards are granted for excellence in biblical studies, church history, ethics, missiology, preaching, pastoral care, systematic theology, and so on.

  • The Wetter the Better

    Remembering Our Baptism Every Week

    Note: All names in this story have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned.

  • Songs for Worldwide Communion

    Here on Jesus Christ I Will Stand; La Uncion; Faithful Is Our God; Sixfold Amen

    One of my favorite churches is the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California. While this church has many striking and meaningful features, I especially love the majestic earth-toned tapestries hung along each side of the nave.

  • Standing on Holy Ground

    Pastoral Prayer as Pastoral Care

    Pastors know that one of the most significant things they do in their ministry is pray for and with their parishioners. When the sorrow of a recent loss, or the fear of what a cancer may do, or the joy of two lives joined together compel people to ask their pastor (or anyone else!) to pray for them, the one sitting in the living room chair or beside the hospital bed is, in fact, standing on holy ground.

  • Ideas for Including Lament in Your Worship

    Resources Culled from a Blog

    There are many worship planning resources available on the Internet—some better than others. One site you may want to spend some time on is http://worshiphelps.blogs.com (see RW 80). We have culled the following practical ideas from three different blog entries.

  • Complexifying the Liturgy

    An Alternative Order for Campus Worship

    As we plan weekly worship here at Fuller Seminary, the worship interns and I have been talking quite a bit lately about three persistent and related problems.

  • Worship Pedablog

    A Web-based Teaching Tool for Worship Teams

    New times call for new tools. I learned that lesson these past months as I struggled to find adequate “together” time with the worship interns at Fuller. We have a set time to meet, of course, but there is so much to do just to get ready for worship that we don’t have the leisure for genuine schooling. It’s important for us both to plan and to do regular reflection on our weekly worship planning; we need concentrated as well as casual interaction in order to bring our lives and work into conversation.

  • Worship Planning Blogs

    Collaboration, Innovation, Inspiration

    In the previous article (Campus Notes) I outlined some of the features of online web logs (blogs) that make them an intriguing new communication tool:

  • Giving Everyone a Voice: How We Used a Song Survey for Teaching, Ownership, Renewal, and Unity

    As the new chapel interns at Fuller Seminary gathered to begin planning worship at the beginning of the year, it became apparent that we had a problem. After we’d assembled our raw materials—piles of hymnals, sheaves of guitar fake sheets, and stacks of songbooks, there was little room left on the table for our pencils and notepads. The collection was just too cumbersome to work with.

  • Learning from Creative Tension: Observations on Alternative/Emerging Worship in England

    Ron Rienstra and his family spent a semester in London, England, in 2004.

Blogs by this author:

  • Each year, on the second day of class, I give a little speech to my Intro Preaching 101 students. I tell them that I know some of them do not believe that the Holy Spirit has gifted women to preach. In their reading of scripture, women are not authorized to proclaim the Word of God. But, I continue, I am persuaded — and this class will be guided — by the conviction that they’re wrong about this. Not obtuse or ill-intentioned — just wrong.

  • A friend of mine came to my office a few weeks ago. His congregation is beginning to think about a sanctuary renovation, and he wanted to talk through some of the dynamics at play when considering liturgical furniture. He had found himself, in an initial meeting, agreeing with those who argued, for example, that a pulpit was both beautiful and indispensable. Five minutes later he found himself agreeing with those who said a pulpit was anachronistic at best and at worst an impediment to hearing the gospel.

  • I occasionally consult with churches who are looking for renewal and revitalization in their worship. Often these churches tell me that they are hoping that I can help them negotiate a transition from offering  "traditional" to offering "contemporary" worship. (Though I have consulted with churches moving in the other direction!)

  • Not long ago I was speaking at an evangelical Christian college in the Midwest. After my presentation, a young woman, a leader of the praise band in her church, invited me to think with her about a frustration she had: "What do you do when you only get 15 minutes for worship?" she said. "I need more time than that to get the congregation from here," she said, raising her arms above her head, and waggling her hands, "to here," she said, lowering her arms and folding her hands gently together in front of her, just above her waist.

  • Early this season I returned to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, to attend my Ph.D. commencement ceremony and to be duly “hooded” – i.e., officially welcomed into the company of hopelessly nerdy liturgical and homiletical scholars.

  • Not long ago I found myself on a Sunday morning visiting a church where some friends of mine are the pastors—Jim and Steve the lead pastors, and Mark in charge of music (their names have been changed here). The worship was wonderful – strong preaching wedded to both missional and sacramental sensibilities. The people were friendly, the music eclectic and excellent, the Spirit alive in the sanctuary. Yet there were a few moments where I cringed when we sang songs with sexist language in them.

  • I am a frequent lurker — and occasional participant — in an online discussion group on Facebook. It is comprised of worship pastors and other people responsible for the liturgical life of their gospel communities. We ask each other questions. Not ivory-tower abstract questions, but real-life theological/worship-leader questions.