Getting kids more involved in leading worship has been a positive and recent development in Christian schools. Beyond the obvious delight of worshipping our God, this involvement serves to develop student understanding of our distinctiveness through a sense of Christian community. In a phone call follow-up to an email, I had a wonderful conversation recently with Suzanne Van Engen, principal at Covenant Christian in Mishawaka, Indiana. She related what a powerful difference it made at her school to have students involved in worship and to have someone gifted in this area to guide them. She states in her email: “I find it interesting that we find money for sports, cheerleading and the like, and worship is done by whomever we can pull in or it is put on the teachers. It is one of the most important things we do as a Christian community and yet we don’t find monies to have someone lead us. We think anyone can do it. But, we don’t think anyone can teach art or second grade or middle school math!”
Worship is a key distinctive of the total educational experience at Christian schools and as Suzanne illustrates beautifully below, should be different from church in that it is in a setting specifically designed for students – a place where they can learn and practice leadership: “For our Open House at the beginning of the year I tried to think of a way to make this different from attending any old Open House at any school. What do we do at a Christian school that demonstrates who we are? We worship together. So we had open house for 45 minutes and then we all assembled in the church next door and had a fifteen-minute time of worship. Our young students led us. We had a fifth grader on the overhead. In moving the transparency down it fell off the overhead. Later on when I did a little talk about what we are about, I told parents that we wanted to train our churches’ future leaders. What better place then at school for the transparency to fall. This is where we make mistakes and learn. When they lead in church they will already have had practice. You get where we went from there.”
What has been your school’s experience? Is worship a way that students and parents understand your distinctiveness as a school? What are your needs in this area?