Two times a year we have a special Spiritual Emphasis series of chapels where we bring in an outside speaker for three days to challenge the students in their walk. The first one is always the first full week of school and the second happens in February. The initial one can really set the tone for the school year. Students are excited about being back and ready to learn. This year we also have a large number of students that are new to the school and are experiencing it for the first time. It is a remarkable event but can also have its challenges. One of the challenges is the preparation required of the Praise Team.
Last year we had an incredibly talented group of seniors that led our praise and worship in chapel each week. Everything they did, they did well. I can honestly tell you that when they graduated I thought, “How are we ever going to replace them?” Little did I know that we would have a new group step up in a very big way. Over the past three days the praise and worship has been phenomenal! Seniors Carly Faller, Daniel Llerena, Josh Smith, and Jesse Tona planned and led the worship with teamwork from seniors Maddie Krajeski and Quinn Gerrish as well as junior Abel Ross and freshman Matthew Morris. I can’t express how proud I am of the job this team did and the great sound they were able to produce.
Another unknown when it comes to Spiritual Emphasis is the speaker. Some are more dynamic than others. Some relate better to the students than others. This year, with the help of Pastor JJ, we were able to secure Pastor Jeff Lovingood. Jeff is the Senior Associate Pastor for Spiritual Development at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He began as the youth pastor there and now oversees the ministries for infants through college age. The students took to Pastor Jeff immediately. I asked several why they liked him and I got responses from, “He’s so funny” to “You have to pay attention because he is always walking around” to “He just said things in a way that I could understand.” So I send a big thank you to Pastor Jeff Lovingood for being willing to travel down here to speak to our kids and also to Pastor JJ Johnson for making it all happen. During the week we had numerous students reaffirm their commitment to Christ when challenged and another 15 trust Christ as their personal Savior. It was awesome!
A final critical component that can make or break the Spiritual Emphasis time is the media production and how it is handled. Digital Arts teacher Charlie Hall manages our “Tech Team” (what?). As this was the first full week of school, he had a number of students that were new and just beginning to be trained on how to run the equipment. In our chapels, the students run the cameras that project the speaker up on the screens. They put up the words to the songs and the verses from the Bible used by the speaker. They manage the lighting for the Worship Center and the stage. Any videos shown run through them. This team was able to pull together and make all of our tech needs happen without any major glitches (which is truly amazing considering we had a power outage last night that caused significant disruption while booting up this morning). So another big thank you goes out to the Tech Team (what?) and advisor Charlie Hall.
If you are interested in what goes on in any of our chapels, they are live-streamed each week. You can watch them live (Thursdays at 9:30am) or you can go to our on-demand library where you can watch them at any time. To view this week’s Spiritual Emphasis chapels or any other previously recorded services, just go to www.ircs.org and look for the News and Events section. Under that, click on the IRCS Live box. Parents are also welcome to attend chapel in person to get a true flavor of what goes on.
It has been an incredible start to the school year and Spiritual Emphasis has played a big part in that success. We will have a mid-year Spiritual Emphasis in February. It will be interesting to see what God does to top the one we just had.