CSU Chapel: Where’s the Worship?

I proudly attend Charleston Southern University, a private Christian university dedicated to a mission of “integrating faith in learning, leading, and serving.” There are many various ways that the university seeks to uphold this mission, from campus ministries to campus outreach, faith-based learning to cross-curriculum, on-campus and off-campus events. One in particular is Chapel service which occurs every other Wednesday. Essentially, this is another course required to graduate, as all students need a certain number of Chapel attendances to receive that much needed diploma. However, this Chapel  time is intended to be an enriching experience–an hour dedicated to worshiping the risen Savior and then be inspired by a guest speaker from many various walks of life, career positions, and ministry facets. Unfortunately, said Chapel can be just like anything else: it can become a show or a crowd pleaser and deter from its original intent and mission in an instant. Some days I leave Lightsey Chapel inspired and filled with the Spirit, while other days I walk out and wonder what I just sat through. 

For instance, CSU Chapel decided that for one past service a former student and country singer–Ansel Brown–would have the privilege of singing for all the students in attendance. Now, this post is not necessarily intended to criticize the generic lyrics, flat pitch, forced “country twang,” awkward sign language “dancing” by his wife, or the insane amount of pride and self-love Ansel had for himself and his performance. However, after witnessing Ansel sing two songs that really had nothing to do with worshiping God and listening to him brag on himself, I looked around and realized that this was seen as such a joke that the people in attendance were not in a worshipful spirit, and were then not in a position to receive a message from the speaker. What occurred on this particular Wednesday was a political runaround in which the University must have felt the need to please an alumnus rather than stand firm in their mission. There are certain aspects necessary for true impact and CSU seems to be missing one. Simply put, I feel that CSU Chapel is neglecting a major portion of what is necessary to achieve a proper Chapel service: worship.

CSU Chapel website states that “Chapel is to engage CSU community in discipleship, worship, and development of a biblical world view through music, testimonials, and speakers.” It goes on to say that it is to “lead the CSU Community in transformational times of personal and corporate worship.” My concern: CSU Chapel is not fulfilling the statement that it is portraying, and corporate worship is not truly happening during these services. At times the music is non-existent, and at other times it is more of a concert or a show. Often times, if we are actually ensuing worship with the Worship Ensemble or music faculty it is only one or two songs. Although it may sound odd, most everyone has to warm up to worship with their whole heart and spirit so that transformation can occur. I would not walk out on the football field and play four quarters without warming up. In the same way, one must take the time to pray, experience a first song of worship, rid themselves of distractions, and focus their heart on worshiping God with every fiber of their being. Then it becomes “intimate and transformational” worship. I believe the time has come to truly ask the question: is Chapel about CSU or is Chapel about God? Ultimately, we know the answer to that question, and we know that the solution is not hard to find. In fact, commit twenty minutes to worship and thirty minutes to the speaker. I promise you will uphold the mission and always get out on time for fried chicken!

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This work is copyright 2012 Dylan Gunnels and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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7 Responses to CSU Chapel: Where’s the Worship?

  1. AMEN!!!! Not was I was expecting at all from WORSHIP!! There was a lack of a message in my opinion. No one was really paying attention as the phones were out and people were watching football games in front of me. A little too much doting upon himself. The music while very good, was not appropriate in my opinion for a worship service. I was disappointed in the first real Chapel of the year. Where was the praise for God? Where was the message? I did not care at all for “Optimus Prime” being pointed out as being a friend. Was that supposed to impress me? CSU can do better….

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Nora. I totally agree that nobody was paying attention to the worship and then to the speaker. Honestly, I didn’t find the music to even be that good. And yes, I feel for the freshman who have had to sit through two chapel services so far and experience no effect. I just hope that they stay open to giving chapel another chance–besides the fact that they have to earn credit haha

  2. AGREED!! His songs had nothing to do with worship and he came across as big headed. I have respect for musicians of all genre’s but he could have planned a bit better and had something ready for chapel that would have set the mood better for the speaker… therefore, i didnt really get much out of the speakers testimony.

  3. I bet a revision of this post would make a good editorial for the student newspaper. (Do we have one?)

  4. Shay says:

    I have an issue altogether with Chapel being a requirement to graduate. The number of credits required is ridiculous, and from what I gathered is increased yearly. It is getting to be where it is set up that we can’t miss one single chapel. With such high expectation, they should offer more opportunity by offering Chapel every week instead of just weekly. Also, I just disagree with forcing people to sit through chapel when they would rather be anywhere else. I love worship and I enjoy attending Chapel (most days). But not everyone does. I do not enjoy or appreciate being distracted by faculty members who are forcing people to move seats and get into actual arguments with students over seating availability; nor do I appreciate being distracted by faculty members correcting students who are studying, texting, or on their computers. I’m an adult. I can ignore those people. I cannot ignore the faculty who engage in creating the commotion in trying to force other people to enjoy something they don’t enjoy. How humiliating, for these students to be treated like children. I can’t blame them for behaving inappropriately when they are being forced to be there against their will. Why not offer MORE ways of obtaining the requirement for Chapel outside of chapel. And by this, I mean, realistic, applicable ways. Some of us are twice as old as the typical student, here to change careers, we have children and husbands, and households, and jobs (so, yeah, that whole chapel on how to date wasn’t too useful to me; I wish I could have spent that time studying, instead); dressing up on a Tuesday evening to come get credits for attending a career fair isn’t really a fair option for us. Lastly, I MUCH prefer our own band over most of the speakers and entertainers they have coming in. While I often feel like I’m walking away with some really good information and new insight, can’t they just give us a regular worship service more often than trying to one up themselves twice a month? That’s what I crave. Just some happy, hand raising, eyes lifted, worship; without the push to buy the latest book on the way out of the door.

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