I hadn’t been to Chapel in a long time, and it probably would have been longer, except for one thing: my oldest child wants to join the rest of you at ACU.
When Chapel began, it seemed that three-fourths of the students were talking with their neighbors-just ignoring the devotional going on below. When it came time to sing-my son and I seemed to be among the few-not only of those who sang, but who even bothered to stand up, after the Chapel leader asked everyone to stand up.
I tried to listen to what was said but just couldn’t make mental connections with any scripture that morning. The Chapel leader had asked everyone to stand. So we stood. And we stood longer-and longer. My feet hurt. (Yes, I should have worn gym shoes.) I’m sure the gentle voice who read one of the longish Psalms intended the reading to be meaningful to everyone, but it was clear: few people, if any, made any connections.
Here are some concrete suggestions that might make it work better:
Keep it short & sweet. Never let chapel run more than 20 minutes for any reason. If you keep it short and sweet, people will remember the message better.
Keep it upbeat. There’s so much out there to discourage and frustrate all of us. And the Bible-especially Paul’s letters and the Book of Proverbs-are full of valuable snippets of how to live the right kind of lives-whether we’re old Christians, new Christians, or not-yet-committed Christians. Another reason to keep it upbeat: college life can be the best part of your life-but for many, it can also be the loneliest.
Have your radio people-your broadcast journalism majors-take a turn at reading scripture. They’ll have an entirely different “voice,” and I’d almost bet they can make the meaning jump off the page like you’ve never heard before.
Stand briefly for emphasis-or for a “foot stomper,” but only sing the first and last verses. Even good songs can get long.
Like anything else in life, Chapel can be what you make it. Besides, if you’re going to have to put the time in it anyway, make it good-really good.