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