One of the distinct emphases we have as a school is our desire to see students grow as spiritual beings. The high school years are a turning point in terms of human development. Young men and women go from simply accepting the predominant faith narrative they have been raised in, to forming their own values and beliefs in relation to those around them. This means that for adolescents, particularly while in high school, their faith in God is not as easily accepted as it was in youth, but is now formed in a world of social expectation and acceptance.
I remember being in high school and having some of my first impactful worship experiences. One of my good friends hosted a bible study at his house every Tuesday, featuring a time of worship and then teaching from the Word. These times were formative for me as a young man coming into an understanding of who God is and who I was. The downside, however, was that it happened independent the people I was around everyday at school. My worship of God and my developing faith were formed in tension with people I studied and learned and interacted with everyday. It caused incredible conflict as I wanted to please God but at the same time develop friendships at school.
At the Academy we spend every Wednesday in chapel in a time of worship. These times allow us to synthesize students social and spiritual health as we facilitate corporate worship for students. Worship has been impactful throughout the semester so far. God has been present and has been speaking to each student in unique ways. Two weeks ago we had a special worship time that extended into lunch and the following class period. I recognize that worship times like these are not unique to our Academy. “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and is free to move and engage his people wherever they make themselves available to him. What is unique, however, is our ability to take a significant worship time and incorporate it into education.
Being “spiritual” is never dichotomized from every other aspect of human development. High school students are learning that they need to be sensitive to God as they worship both in and out of the classroom, and that their success in the academic realm can never replace their relationship to God and the nearness he wants to share with each of them.
(above) High school students sharing testimonies after our worship time one Chapel. These kinds of experiences help students relate to each other as they connect to the Lord, learning what he is doing in their lives individually and corporately, and providing an opportunity to hold each other accountable to the change experienced on the other side of worship.