Well, it’s fun to see the comments being made and interaction on this blog series. This post will discuss some of my thoughts and questions regarding chapel on Christian College Campuses.
I guess the first step is seeking to gain insight into the purpose of these times. Some schools don’t have them, while others have them up to 3 times a week. In addition to the ongoing chapels most also have spiritual emphasis weeks. Most schools make chapels mandatory. So my first question is why make them mandatory? I think if we’re really honest, we’ll recognize it’s because otherwise far fewer students would attend.
What might this tell us? Does that really make sense?
We’d probably all agree that our goal is not to force proper behavior, but instead cultivate a heart for Jesus and to live an authentic mature life of faith. So, is forcing attendance really accomplishing what we think it is?
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for chapel gatherings, but I do think every campus minister (chapel coordinator) ought to be able to:
- Define the purpose of these times
- Support their reasoning for making it mandatory – if they do – beyond proper behavior by attending. If the reasoning is because otherwise only a few people would come, then we must support how we think forcing proper behavior is going to benefit the spiritual health of the students.
- Explain how/why these times are needed in addition to being involved in a local church body – which most Christian colleges (at least on paper) require students to be involved in.
We need to be able to justify how we think so many different messages is beneficial. And we have to be able to have some type of strategy for helping every student embrace these messages in their life. We’d all agree that it doesn’t do any good to just hear a message and do nothing with it, right? We’d also likely agree that we not only have to teach believers, but also our role as shepherds is helping them live it out. In addition, I’m assuming we’d agree that this requires more than every-now-and-then events or retreats of service. It’s about life, every day life and in every day circumstances.
Hypothetical Illustration – with a question
Let’s assume we’re working together on a Christian college campus and we’re running mandatory chapels twice a week. We allow a certain amount of absences, but it’s clearly forced (there’s no better word). In fact students are disciplined in some fashion if too many chapels are missed. Most students look at a schedule to see who’s speaking to determine which chapels they’ll be skipping, making sure they attend a few specific chapels. The remainder of chapels are filled with professors or administrators speaking, of which some are clearly better than others. In addition to these mandatory chapels twice a week, we also expect (whether formally or not) students to go to church and expect them to serve in some capacity (whether they do or not is another story).
I guess my question is: what is this teaching/saying about Christianity?