‘Prayer and Praise’ Offers a Contemporary Worship Alternative


Jeremiah Schultz

Freshman Joshua Gustafson, sophomore Scott Treptow, freshman Anna Kuschel, and junior Amelia Hessong lead Prayer and Praise service on Oct. 5.

Jeremiah Schultz

In a dimly lit Krentzman choir room on Wednesday, three vocalists and four musicians on guitar, bass, cajon (a wooden box used for percussion) performed the songs “Reckless Love,” “Waymaker,” and “More than Conquerors” to an audience of roughly 40 students.

The attendees stood shoulder to shoulder, tapping their feet and nodding their heads to the up-beat rhythm.

The weekly 9 p.m. service is called Prayer and Praise, a Christian group at Concordia University Chicago that provides another on-campus option for worship beyond the traditional Lutheran services the school is known for.

“You can relate to a lot of these songs because you listen to them outside of worship,” said sophomore Scott Treptow, who plays lead guitar and heads up Prayer and Praise. “Singing them with everyone else is moving.”

The worship organization is entirely student-led and offers attendees the opportunity to sing contemporary Christian songs together, read scripture, break into small groups for prayer, and listen to a devotion shared by a fellow student.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and by extension its Concordia universities, are often known for their traditional liturgical worship settings and slow-paced hymns played on an organ. 

“With traditional worship, it’s very much organ and out-of-the-book, and it can sound monotone and bland,” Treptow said. “I would not listen to hymns in my free time.”

Campus pastor the Rev. Jeff Leininger, Ph.D., encouraged student involvement in worship services.  “It fills a need for many students on our campus,” said Leininger. “Especially those who come from a worship tradition that does not use hymnody and organ.” 

CUC offers 10 traditional services for students throughout the week. Although some students prefer either traditional or contemporary music over the other, other students don’t have a preference and say that they’re both appropriate for Christian worship.

“I think it’s very important to have a balance of traditional and contemporary worship,” said junior pre-seminary student Isaac Conrad, who regularly attends Prayer and Praise. “While traditional worship focuses on our reverence for God, contemporary worship, such as Prayer and Praise, creates a much more accessible environment for anyone to join.”

The contemporary songs and brief devotion offer students a personal Christian message, while the small groups allow peers to interact with one another on an individual level.

“It’s easier for people to connect with and really understand what worship is about,” said sophomore Gabrielle Mintrup. “We create a really tight-knit community.”

Prayer and Praise starts at 9 p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays in the choir room. The service runs for about 1 hour on Sundays and 30 minutes on Wednesdays.

“It’s a laid-back, inviting experience,” said Treptow. “You don’t need to know Jesus or be a Christian to come.”