On Sunday, Aug. 20, many Northwestern Students gathered outside of the Dewitt Learning Commons for the yearly candlelight service that commences the weekly praise and worship (P&W) gatherings for the school year. Afterwards, numerous students broke out into prayer groups, began a time of fellowship or simply went back to their dorm to prepare for classes to start the next day.
Attending a P&W service before the school year begins is a bit easier than later in the year because no one has tons of homework or stress yet or is coming back after being away for the weekend. Some may say there was a large turnout at this service because it was the first P&W of the year, because it received promotion during the other orientation weekend events or because students could literally hold fire while worshipping.
But the high attendance at P&W was not limited to the first one of the year. Each Sunday night of this school year, students have been filling the pews of Christ Chapel for P&W, even as schedules have filled in and assignments have piled up.
This kind of P&W attendance has not been seen on campus in the last few years. As a result, some students have begun to wonder what is contributing to the growth in attendance this year.
It might be easy for students attending P&W to notice how full the chapel is and make a quick judgement. But longevity and the heart of worship plays a huge role in accurately assessing the attendance at P&W. Samantha Vermeer, a worship team leader, states “It is easy to look at numbers and view it as a ‘reflection’ on the worship that is provided. However, I believe this increase in consistent attendance is a reflection on the heart of campus that has grown greatly in my three years of being here.”
While the music on Sunday nights has been beautiful, those on the Campus Ministry Team (CMT) believe that students’ desire to worship in community is the driving factor behind the increasing attendance at P&W. Students’ hearts long for this designated time to worship their heavenly Father, be filled with the Spirit and be encouraged for the week ahead.
Dustin Groen, another worship leader, states “I believe that increased attendance is a testimony to the culture that we have on campus.” This NW culture reflects the continual investment, intentionality and challenge offered to students by the CMT and worship teams here on campus.
Throughout the years, NW’s student-led P&W services have been foundational in leading students closer into the presence of God. But students’ worship is not limited to Sunday nights or candlelight services. NW is a place to continually worship God by loving others.
Saying hi to others walking to class, holding the door for someone at the cafeteria or asking someone how their day is going are simple ways people love one another daily on campus. These small, ordinary acts cultivate a beautiful culture that loves to gather in community on Sunday nights and be led in a time of worship for the glory of God.