Dordt College News

Worship minor grows out of a vibrant worship culture

January 23, 2012

There are two ways to add new programs,” says Dordt’s Dean of the Chapel Aaron Baart.

“You can introduce something you think will be good for students or you can create a program around what’s already happening.”

Dordt’s worship arts minor followed the second path.

“We have students who are highly involved in worship and who want to lead worship,” he says. These students are eager to learn and be coached in what good worship is.

“In the last decade, we’ve gone from having to pull teeth to get people involved to having to hold auditions for worship leader positions,” Baart says. “God is up to something incredible here.”

Such participation seems to go against current trends. Other colleges report having a difficult time engaging students in worship, and funding cuts for primary and secondary school music programs would lead one to expect to find fewer good musicians. Yet many gifted students are coming forward. Baart thinks it may be partly because music has become such a big part of people’s devotional lives—where even eight year olds walk around listening to music on their iPods.

“I’ve been blown away by the spiritual vitality and climate here,” says new Campus Ministries Coordinator Jon De Groot. He and Baart already do a lot of coaching as they work with campus worship leaders. That coaching will now take more academic shape.

“When I look back on my nine years in congregational ministry, the first position I’d choose to fill would be that of worship leader,” Baart says. He believes that the new worship arts minor combined with youth ministry or education could be a good fit for graduating students as well as for churches looking to combine roles in one position.

De Groot, who has led worship teams and helped churches work through balancing historic Reformed worship with contemporary Reformed worship, says many churches and pastors are looking for people who understand the church and who understand what goes into worship.

“The style of worship is just personal preference. You need to get to the heart of worship first,” says De Groot.

The worship arts minor will begin next fall, but already a half dozen current students are committed and another half dozen incoming students are expected to enter the program. Some of them will lead worship as part of their profession, others will be lay participants who want to learn more about worship.

Music is an essential component of the program because it is such an important part of worship. Students in the program can audition for a place on a campus worship team or participate in an internship in a local church.

“We want to point people to Christ in all things, to reveal his glory,” says De Groot. That can be accomplished in a more traditional way or a more contemporary way, or a combination of both.

“Our hope is that graduates of our program can lead or participate in a worship team that helps create a good environment for congregational and communal worship.”

“The students really made this happen,” says De Groot. “This program is a response to their desire for help. It’s a neat way for it to happen.”


The Skinny

Whether they’re organ majors or guitar players, students in the worship minor will take theology courses as well as music (and music theory) courses to help them develop the ability to appreciate and critique all kinds of music.

Students in the program will not only develop a scriptural foundation for worship; they’ll explore how worship historically has helped the community of faith grow in intimacy with God; they’ll become discerning in choosing worship materials; they’ll develop confidence and leadership skills; and they’ll learn to communicate clearly to help build community and lead effectively.

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