Worship Arts students recently returned from Chicago where they had the opportunity to visit Harvest Bible Chapel and Willow Creek Community Church. 12 students in the “Leading a Worship Band” class, along with their professor John Chilcote, traveled to Harvest and Willow to meet with worship leaders and observe worship services over the weekend of Sept 29-Oct 1. Harvest Bible Chapel, founded in 1988, has a weekend attendance of over 13,000 in its 7 campuses around Chicagoland. Willow Creek, also with 7 campuses in Chicago, has grown since 1975 to over 25,000 attendees. Both churches have had great influence in the area of worship over the years.
Students sat down with Andi Rozier and other members of the worship staff at the Elgin campus of Harvest on Friday morning to discuss worship leadership and ministry. Many of Harvest’s worship staff are also part of their traveling worship ministry – Vertical Worship, a popular voice in modern worship today.
Saturday evening the group attended worship at Rolling Meadows Campus. While not the biggest campus, this is the original church building for Harvest Bible Chapel, seating 1800. Paul Baloche, influential veteran worship leader and songwriter, was a guest that weekend. (He travels from New York City to Chicago 10 times a year to lead worship at Harvest.) Paul graciously spent some time chatting with the students, sharing his wisdom on worship leading and music. It was a great bonus!
Sunday morning the group traveled to South Barrington to attend worship at Willow Creek’s main campus. Students made their way to the front rows of the 7000 seat auditorium and were fully engaged in the worship. The church worship ministry had just released a worship recording and they sang all of the songs that morning, another special treat for the students. The production and music were impeccable and polished. After the service, students had the chance to talk with the worship team and tour the stage, as well as the rest of the building.
Sunday evening the class traveled to Willow Creek North Shore, one of the seven campuses, to attend their high school gathering “Impact.” Rachel Lang, the youth pastor, and David Schomer, the youth worship leader, are NCC graduates. Many members of the class had the opportunity to lead worship with David. The students also interacted with the kids there. It was a great chance to serve while on the trip.
The crew did get some fun time. Friday afternoon was free time downtown Chicago. Students enjoyed visiting Millennial Park, the Magnificent Mile, and getting some deep-dish Chicago pizza at Giordano’s on Navy Pier.