MyACU tells me I have 2/55 Spiritual Formation Credits but my better judgment tells me I’ve learned all I have to learn in Moody this year.
In two days I’ve been told to follow my dreams, embrace opinions different from mine, step out of my comfort zone and remember life is not all about me. I can’t remember a time that I heard a Chapel speech not centered on one of these topics or a similar cliché, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
What’s the problem with this endless cycle of limited topics? They are vague at best and a confusing presentation of a seemingly solution-less problem at worst. In either case it leaves students walking out of Moody without useful information or points of application.
Yet, if in staying true to the name, Chapel is meant for spiritual formation, both useful information and points of application are necessary. A speech we’ve heard before precluded by routine songs and occasionally broken up by administering communion doesn’t make the cut. What I just described is a poor excuse for a church service, and ACU is not a church. Though the school is founded on biblical principles, it is not a campus of solely Christian students.
So, how do we make chapel a spiritually formative experience? This is not a church, it’s a school. Lose the sacraments and motivational speeches, (motivational speeches don’t have a place even in the church). Approach students with the one common factor that brought us to the university — engage our minds.
Chapel speeches have the potential to be edifying to everyone, but the topics must be thought-provoking and presented with purpose.
I can’t walk away from a chapel where I heard the words “follow your dreams” and “remember life is not about you” with any understanding of why either of those things are important or how I’m supposed to carry that out. They even sound mutually exclusive. Don’t present vague mandates. Explain useful information.
If you really want an edifying lesson, perhaps open the Bible more than just between songs and the speech and teach the biblical precedent for the principle you’re suggesting. I am not doubling back on myself and suggesting ACU is a church, I’m simply saying if we want to engage students in a spiritually formative way at an intellectual level, perhaps the most spiritually formative of all books is where we should start.
Presentation of thoughtful information is particularly important when it comes to topics of greater depth. You can tell me to embrace diversity and be open to ideas different from mine, but I am no better prepared to do those things if that plea is all I hear. I would hope that we all could condemn the evils of ostracizing people different from us, but after pointing out a problem that I am well aware exists, help me find a solution. Who knows, perhaps having two different people look toward solutions after reiterating a problem is part of the solution itself.
Making Chapel something that builds students up is achievable, but it is going to involve change.