Distinctiveness (community) – Worship

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?

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3 Comments

Filed under distinctively Christian, worship

3 responses to “Distinctiveness (community) – Worship

  1. Thanks for the reminder of the things we do that can sometimes seem to be “routine” but have significance beyond what we give the time to reflect about and consider.
    We’ve been having student “praise teams” lead in Chapel worship for several years now. We solicit volunteers from each grade level (3rd-8th grade) who gather to practice several times prior to each Chapel. The enthusiasm to participate is outstanding, but most likely due to gifted staff who are willing to take the time to work with them.

  2. Our 6th – 8th graders lead chapel at least once a month. They choose a specific area they want to be part of – drama, music, prayer, audio-visual. Usually throughtout the year they have participated in all areas. They even make special calendars to be used by the classes and at home, for example for advent or lent or for homeless awareness week. It is wonderful to see how “thought”ful and creative they are.

  3. Looking for ways that CSI high schools handle the planning of chapels. We currently have a chaplain/counselor who along with a period 1 class (for credit) plan our weekly chapels. With this format we do get very good student involvement. However we will not have this position in the budget for next year. So …. wondering what other schools do.

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