For information on A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship and my other work on the history of this global worship phenomenon, click here.            



I started off as a pastor interested in worship history to revitalize my own congregations. I’ve become a worship historian who has maintained pastoral sensibilities. My calling is to pursue the study of the church’s worship history–and to teach this history–to bring glory to God and renewal to Christian congregations. I pursue this calling as Research Professor of Christian Worship at Duke Divinity School and directly through conference speaking, workshops, and congregational consultations.

Lester Ruth
Duke Divinity School faculty


I work in a variety of historical periods, including the early church and early Methodism of the 18th century. I have been led more recently into the study of Contemporary Praise & Worship, an approach that has become a global phenomenon in the last half century. Some call it “praise and worship,” others “contemporary worship,” others “modern worship,” and even some others simply “worship.” Regardless of the particular title, it has become the most dominant new approach to congregational worship (outside the text-based revisions of established denominations) in the world and I will study it sympathetically and thoroughly.

I take delight in mentoring doctoral students interested in researching Contemporary Praise & Worship and others interested in the worship of Pentecostal, Charismatic, Evangelical, or Free Church worlds.

Follow my latest research on Twitter @jl_ruth.

Follow, too, on Twitter and elsewhere the research of doctoral students–past and present–with whom I work closely:

–Adam Perez @adam_a_perez

–Jonathan Ottaway @jm_ottaway

–Glenn Stallsmith @glennstallsmith

–Drew Eastes @DrewEastes

–Debbie Wong @deborahannwong

–Victoria Larson

On the other pages of this website you can find information about courses I teach regularly, books and articles I’ve worked on, contemporary worship songwriting workshops I’ve helped lead, organizations I belong to, my CV/resume, and other public presentations I’ve made.

I can be reached at lruth@div.duke.edu.