Hold the Cheese

Professor John Witvliet offers insights from his college students about what helps and hinders worship:

I recently taught a class on worship and theology to an insightful group of 30 undergraduate students. They came from churches all over the stylistic spectrum, from eight denominations, twelve states and provinces, and three countries.

As part of the course, I asked them to submit brief written reflections to these open ended questions:

  • What things really help you engage in worship in a worshipful way?
  • What things are barriers to your participation in a deep and significant way?

I provided no other guidance or prompting. They simply listed the 3-5 things that most helped or hindered them.

In reading their replies, I was struck by the surprising convergence of themes in their answers in spite of their diverse experiences and perspectives.


Here are the six most common themes in reverse order:

6. It is challenging to actually pray the words someone else speaks, especially in a long prayer. It helps if there is some congregational response in a prayer, or some shape to the prayer that participants can follow.

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