As a junior at Dordt, I’m accustomed to being consistently immersed in some form of corporate worship: Sunday morning church, Sunday evening church, GIFT (Growing in Faith Together) at Dordt on Sunday nights, student-led worship on Monday nights, Bible study with friends on Tuesdays over lunch, Chapel on Wednesday mornings, student-led worship again on Thursday nights, and then sometimes 6:00am worship services at the HOME building in Sioux Center on Fridays, all interspersed between prayer-based theological discussions in class.
Dordt offers so many opportunities to communally engage with Jesus, and they’re all so good. This weekly cycle of worship is something special, something unique to this phase in my life. So I’m trying to live into it fully.
And I’m not the only one.
Something I love about Dordt is that no faith-based activity is required. We don’t have to attend chapel a certain number of times a semester. We don’t have to go on PLIA over Spring Break or AMOR over Christmas Break. We don’t have to join the group that sings hymns at the local nursing home on Sundays, we don’t have to put in any hours at the food bank, and we don’t have to read books to children on Saturday mornings at the local library.
We’re not required, but we do.
The fact that so many students participate in all these corporate acts of worship and faith-based service proves that the spiritual fervor on campus is genuine. Only the people that truly want to be at any of these activities attend, which means that everyone there is able to feed off each other’s desire to be fully present. And what results? A really powerful, really driven community that encourages and supports one another in our imperfect efforts to mimic Christ.
Monday night worship my favorite example of our student body’s genuine desire to engage with our Creator. Monday nights are a relatively new, entirely student-led tradition. Students simply show up in the choir room around 10:00 pm ready to submit to the Spirit’s leading. We all sit/stand in a giant mass and sing whatever songs are spontaneously suggested. Usually one person has a guitar that gets passed between anyone who wants to lead. Usually, someone volunteers to play the piano. Usually, someone is able to offer some percussion. Usually a few students bring scripture to share with the group. And always, if a student wants prayer, he or she moves into the center of the circle and waits for other students to lay hands on him or her. Those students then pray however the Spirit leads, not needing to know any specifics to speak to the Lord on their fellow student's behalf. It's amazing, and it usually goes for two consecutive hours before the student leaders conclude with the doxology. If allowed to continue organically – unbound by the requirements of homework and sleep – I believe we’d be there all night.
So ultimately, I’m grateful to be a part of such an imperfect, prayer-needing and prayer-offering-up community, unhindered by any scholastic requirements that try to quantify our spirituality and instead driven by a genuine desire to know our Creator. It's something special.