The high school students participating in the Awakening faith-formation summer institute at Hope College don’t just learn about worship. They also plan and lead a service themselves, applying skills and perspective that they’ve gained along the way, lessons that the program’s organizers hope will make a lasting difference to them — and, through them, to others.
Now in its third year, Awakening will be running June 10–15 and hosting 55 high school students. They will be coming from Illinois, Indiana, New York, Michigan and South Korea to develop their artistic gifts for use in worship, their passion for God and their understanding of their calling or purpose.
“Our goal is for the students to develop a sense of God’s story in their lives, from what He has done in their past to what He could do in their future in ministry in the church with the gifts He has given each of them,” said James DeBoer, who is director of Awakening and an adjunct associate professor of music at Hope. “Their activities across the week include strategic devotional readings, journaling, prayer, experiencing a variety of worship settings, listening to panels of worship leaders from various churches and discussion in small-group settings. We hope that they will also learn to appreciate worship as a gift from God through which they can grow these gifts and better understand what goes into developing a worship service.”
The annual summer institute is designed to deepen high school students’ faith formation and understanding of Christian theology, and to help them explore the moral dimension of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service. The participating students will be studying Scripture, worship traditions and musical expressions, and will have opportunities to cultivate their skills in worship arts — art, dance, music, preaching, songwriting, technology (sound) and planning. In addition, they will engage with Hope faculty, staff and student-mentors, regional clergy and recognized national and international worship leaders, to better understand the complexities of theological pursuit as they discern their own vocations to serve others.
There are 21 staff and faculty and 17 student interns who are part of the teaching and learning process of Awakening. The students are worshiping every day at Western Theological Seminary and Hope College, in addition to experiencing worship at 2nd Reformed Church of Zeeland, Central Wesleyan Church and St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. The students will lead in worship with their small-group teams on Thursday, June 14, at 2 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. The public is invited to attend the service.
Awakening is made possible by a four-year grant to Hope through Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative.
More information about the program, including a video highlighting the program, is available at hope.edu/awakening.