Curating Worship

A passage I read this morning from One Year Bible Blog was from Joshua: "And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan."

We might say that Joshua 'curated' the stones, or set them up in a way that they would tell their story to those who saw them. Curators of art shows or musuem pieces are quite well established in today's vocabulary, but curators of worship is a term that is still gaining ground, and mostly limited to alt. worship, emerging church and fresh expression environments. At least it is for the moment.

Len Sweet discussed the "worship curator" in 2004

"Curators—a new position which is already manifesting itself in what the English call alt.worship (alternative worship) circles. A curator is a servant of the people who curates (not leads) worship by functioning as an “installer of art and creator of an environment that is conducive to experiencing God” (see Andrew Jones, “Is This the Next New Worship?” FaithWorks)." Len Sweet, New Job Descriptions for the Emerging Church, 2004

The article of mine Len was referring to was a Faithworks article [no longer online] in which I discuss curating worship. I first heard the term in 2000AD at a London EC church called Vaux, which had a worship curator for the service I attended.

Two books came out recently on the subject of curating worship, both written by friends of mine. And both excellent books.

1. The Art of Curating Worship: Reshaping the Role of Worship Leader, by Mark Pierson

Mark Pierson coined the term "curating worship" in the 1990's and his collaborative book The Prodigal Project was one of the greatest emerging church books ever. EVER! And in this book called The Art of Curating Worship, Mark outlines the history of the movement, the passion behind the art, and the skills needed for worship leaders to move into a posture of curating rather than [my word] conducting. I totally recommend this book and I apologize to Mark, who I got to see again in NZ last month, for not pimping this book the moment it came out. When Mark sent me the manuscript last year, it was about the most enjoyable read I had seen in a long time. If you lead worship then you simply have to have this book on your shelf.

2. Curating Worship, by Jonny Baker and friends

Jonny Baker is one of the best Christian bloggers on the planet, the author of Alternative Worship, and is also the guy behind 100 Worship Tricks, already in its third season, which I think is the largest resource of free worship tools available

His book is a complilation of his own thoughts and others by leading worship curators, mainly in the UK. While it may not have the raw passion of Mark Pierson's book, or the horses-mouth authority that Mark brings to it, Curating Worship makes up for it by including a wide range of curating practitioners who offer practical wisdom and resources. Also a great book and addition to the concept of curating worship.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.

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