Practicing praise: the job of a Worship Apprentice


Worship Apprentices participate in a variety of training and activities to become better worship leaders

If you’ve been to more than a few chapels or LOFT services at Calvin, you’ve probably begun to recognize some familiar faces leading worship. It’s likely some of these familiar faces are Worship Apprentices (WAs) — a cohort of seven students who plan, coordinate and lead worship services.

Paul Ryan, worship pastor and head of the Worship Apprentice program, is enthusiastic about the role WAs play in the campus community as well as the role he gets to play in developing Christian leaders. “Worship Apprentices are empowered to lead worship on campus and are prepared to lead worship in the church,” Ryan said. “Students appreciate being led by their peers who they see in class, in a lab, in the dining hall, on the concert stage, or in the gym.”

And that’s just what the WAs are — regular students hailing from every corner of the Calvin community and the globe. Lauren Holwerda, a sophomore nursing major with a minor in music, was inspired to apply for the program after experiencing an array of different worship styles during a gap year abroad. “I wanted to have an active role in engaging with multicultural and multi-denominational worship at Calvin,” she explains.

WA Plinio Rosales Lopez is double-majoring in chemical engineering and chemistry, with minors in theology and mathematics. He calls Guatemala City, Guatemala home. He became interested in worship and music at a young age, recalling how he learned to play guitar at the age of 10 and piano at 11. When he came to Calvin, he knew the program was meant for him. “I believe that, as an international student, I can bring some of my culture to worship at Calvin,” he says. “Before coming to Calvin, I did not understand or care about worshipping in a multicultural way, but now, I understand that multiculturality in worship can enhance community and congregation.”

The Worship Apprentice program began in the 2002-03 academic year as a means for students to explore work in ministry and worship leadership. Typically consisting of six students, Ryan says he looks for talented musicians appreciative of diversity in worship and passionate in their faith to participate in the program.

WAs work an average of 10 hours each week. This work includes attending meetings, leading rehearsals and worship, and being mentored. Apprentices are also responsible for leading teams of volunteer musicians and are compensated $1,600 each semester for their work. Two weeks of training prior to the start of the school year are also required. Program members spend this time learning about the meaning of worship, developing skills in planning and leading, and preparing for specific tasks.

Sophomore Andrew Deters says he cherishes the friendships and memories he’s made as a WA. “I love the memories that I’ve made and the experiences that I’ve been a part of,” he says. “I’m so grateful for such a wonderful opportunity,” he continues. The Worship Apprentice program is currently seeking students for the 2020-21 school year.R