The worship experience at ENC reflects the need for students to engage in a spiritual environment. When students, who are inspired by the culture of ENC, lead chapel it shows how today’s chapel displays contemporary worship experiences.
“As far as I can remember, there were no instruments that accompanied our worship, other than the piano and organ,” recalled Lynne Bollinger, Student Chaplain and 1992 ENC graduate. “Student-led worship didn’t exist, with the exception of one song which was meant to be a solo.”
Since her graduation, the worship experience at ENC began to mirror the popularity of Contemporary Christian music. The time devoted to the musical selections at chapel has increased. Chapel meetings reduced from five times a week as seen in the 1980s to the twice a week pattern currently followed.
“All music changes throughout history, and worship music is no exception to that,” said Worship Arts Coordinator Bubba Snodderly. Snodderly described the changing climate of worship music to be a result of the changing ways people have come to encounter God. “The worship atmosphere changes as ENC changes. We want to rediscover the culture of worship instead of modeling it off of the past.”
Dr. John Nielson, head of the new Worship Arts major, explained that “Choosing music that is both current and relevant along with music that has a long-standing place in the worship of the church continues to be an issue that can be a challenge for worship leaders.” Dr. Nielson led the faculty run worship session during the Faith and Learning Chapel on September 21st where he, along with other faculty members, sang Take My Life, originally released as a hymn in 1874 by Frances Avergal, and Ever Be, a song released in 2014 by Bethel Music Publishing.
Even with a variety or songs and singers to pick from for chapel worship, there is still one more aspect of chapel performance that everyone struggles to find, according to Campus Pastor for Worship Arts, Melinda Priest. “Authenticity is really important when you are up there on stage,” explained Priest who has spent the majority of her life as a worship leader. “As a worship leader, who I am adoring or worshiping off of the platform should be the same person I am worshiping on the platform.”
Priest enjoys the freedom that she has in worship which allows her to be a vessel for others to encounter Christ. Her inspiration in worship comes from Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Most students only see what happens on the stage during chapel. Yet, the hope and prayer of the entire Spiritual Development Office is to be instrumental in bringing students closer to God in an authentic way during chapel, using life experience and a variety of musical expressions.