Dordt College News

Nurturing worship leaders becomes easier

January 25, 2013

Student involvement in worship on Dordt’s campus is growing.

Several years of planning, along with the addition of a worship arts minor last year and a new worship arts room this year, has contributed to this growth.

The worship arts room is located in the lower level of the Campus Center. Everything in it was generously funded by a donor who believes it is important to have an area on campus dedicated to worship and music. The room contains everything students need to practice and play in more contemporary worship settings. It includes guitars, amps, microphones, keyboards, drums, and even a television so that students can play back their performances in order to critique their work and improve upon it.

“It’s a working laboratory,” says Jonathan De Groot, Dordt’s campus ministries coordinator. “It’s more than a rehearsal room; it’s also a sanctuary of sorts where people can meet the Lord. It’s a place to talk about and plan worship but also to practice, a place where they can come up with set lists, experiment with different styles of music, and create new music and arrangements.”

Before the worship room was constructed, most worship teams practiced in a storage closet. Band members had a difficult time hearing each other. The larger and better-equipped space has improved not only practices but also the ability for groups to work together. And the new instruments and equipment have allowed teams to grow in their ability to play quality music, both on and off campus.

“We have more confidence now when we go out and perform, and we know who’s going to play what and when,” says Mia Kornelis, a member of both the traveling praise team and a GIFT praise team. GIFT is the student-led Sunday evening worship held on campus. Praise team members can focus on playing and singing well rather than having to worry about logistics.

“The new equipment helps us better lead worship in churches and in the community, too,” says Ben Sytsma, who leads the traveling praise group. “We can pack up everything we need and go. I don’t have any fear anymore that something is going to go wrong.”

“We have a lot of wonderful musicians on campus, and we want them to be able refine and hone their skills to achieve a standard of excellence in how they play music,” says Associate Provost Bethany Schuttinga. She believes the new worship room is helping this happen.

De Groot notes that what is happening in campus ministry today is partly the result of staff and students who are no longer here “who invested heavily in worship on campus” in years past.

Students involved in leading worship on campus are benefitting personally from the new worship arts room and minor, but campus ministry staff believe the whole campus is becoming more thoughtful about worship because of the work that God is doing in the hearts of people on campus.

“A lot of us have been at Dordt for a while and we’ve seen campus ministries grow—not just us, but the whole body. The new room is just one piece of that,” says Worship Team Leader Sara DeWaal.

“Our hope is that Dordt will become a place where students are shaped to become future leaders in churches, helping congregations navigate the opportunities that traditional and contemporary music offer,” says Schuttinga.


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