The Voice: Spring 2002

The Voice

Worship workshop trains student leaders

On January 26 nearly fifty Dordt students gave their Saturday—a record-setting sixty-nine-degree day—to participate in a workshop on worship. It was a rich and wonderful day, says Dr. Sydney Hielema, who teaches theology and is a member of the Spiritual Activities Committee.

“The workshop grew out of a sense that because we plan worship opportunities on campus, we need training,” says Hielema. The number of students participating also indicates the interest in such issues by students, says Dordt’s campus pastor, Dr. Donald Draayer.

“The worship workshop exceeded my expectations—and I had pretty high expectations,” Draayer said after the event. “Dr. [John] Witvliet did a great job laying out the basics of worship that is biblically sensitive and faithful. What he presented was applicable to any style of worship and demonstrated that style is less significant than faithfulness.”

Senior Rochelle Senti, who coordinates GIFT, a campus communal worship time, says the day gave her a deeper biblical sense that worship has different manifestations: it is a way of life, a time to gather, and a response of praise.

Freshman Dan Zylstra from South Holland, Illinois, found Witvliet’s description of worship as covenant renewal helpful in thinking about what we do in worship—the Lord speaks to his people and they answer back. The promise of salvation is renewed.

The workshop was made possible through a Worship Renewal Grant from the Calvin Center for Christian Worship of Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by Lilly Endowment. It was led by Dr. John Witvliet, director of the Center.

“There’s a shifting landscape in worship today,” says Draayer. That landscape spreads across denominational lines and has also affected worship at Dordt College. While Draayer appreciates the openness this has brought in how students express their faith, he, too, believes that student worship leaders and participants need to understand what worship is as they plan worship events.

Draayer hopes that workshops such as this will also bridge gaps between different worship styles. He would like the worship conference held in January to be a model for yearly conferences.

He adds, “I hope these efforts will not only enrich campus worship, but also provide church communities with better equipped worship leaders as students graduate and become part of churches.”