Hundreds of teenagers rush in through the doors to get the best seats possible before the band comes on stage. Security stands guard at the front of the stage, and soon the dimly lit auditorium is packed, leaving only standing room. Closer to the back, things clear up a little bit, but the excitement and anticipation are no less. The band walks out, and the evening begins.
Sounds like almost any concert, right? Not this one. The difference here is that the audience is the choir and the band is the conductor. Welcome to Doxa, an evening devoted to praising God, enthusiastically attended by 1500 people, many of them teens. Every Sunday at 8:30 p.m., they gather at Central Heights MB Church in Abbotsford, B.C. to sing, shout, jump and praise the Lord.
In the fall of 1996, Doxa became official as a bi-weekly praise session sponsored and hosted by the South Abbotsford MB Church. Attendance then averaged around 90 people. In January of 1997, it was decided to turn Doxa into a weekly event. Vijay Manuel (a teacher and son of South Abbotsford associate pastor David Manuel), backed by a talented band, has been the human at the helm since Doxa’s beginning, and has been blessed to watch it grow.
When Doxa outgrew the South Abbotsford building, it was moved to the Central Heights church for a trial period this fall. Doxa is too large to be held in most churches without violating fire and safety codes. (While the most obvious attenders are teens, Mam.uel notes that a significant percentage of the audience are older – primarily adults aged 20–35, but also some older than that.)
With huge numbers also comes the recurring issue of peer pressure among teens. Doxa has become somewhat of a social gathering, where there are those who wish to praise God and those who wish to merely meet with friends. Included among the latter are many non-Christians from Abbotsford and from other towns and cities. However, organizers suggest that it is better that these young people meet for the wrong reasons at a place where God is being praised than at a place where God is being cursed. Doxa provides an excellent alternative for those who don’t really know about Christianity. And for those who are firm in their faith, it is a chance to praise God and to minister to their non-Christian friends.
Manuel affirms this by constantly reminding the congregation of the real reason for their gathering. He stresses the importance of a right heart worshipping Jesus.—Doug Barkman. Doxa will be the worship band at NYC (Banff) 99.