Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Matthew Baumer, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Carl Rahkonen, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dr. John Kuehn


The music of the Christian Protestant church has been a seemingly inexhaustible source for musicological study, but contemporary worship music has received little scholarly attention. This study investigates the organizational practices of the ensembles that perform this music. An ethnographic approach, focused on direct observation of two local ensembles, was particularly useful in studying how these contemporary worship ensembles, which have a very different organizational structure than the traditional framework of church music, were organized. This study examines several aspects of organization found in contemporary worship music ensembles, such as how the ensemble determines its membership and leadership, and how the ensemble selects, arranges, rehearses, and learns music for worship services. Two local worship teams were observed directly over a period of several weeks in early 2010. The observations focused on the function of the worship leader,the creation and maintenance of the worship team, the methods and practices of the ensemble, the worship space, and the formation and promotion of the group's identity. Additionally, special consideration was given to the relationship between contemporary worship music and the parent entity it is derived from, the contemporary Christian music commercial market. Finally, problematic issues uncovered during the study are presented followed by a discourse on opportunities for further research.