“You are required to get 28 Christian Formation credits each semester.” How did this one-liner that Dordt students use against us ever get such a negative connotation? Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that worshipping God was a good thing. Unfortunately, when you make chapel required, not everyone sitting in the pews wants to be there. This requirement causes an environment that does not always encourage fellowship and freedom between people to encounter God.
The last Ngage of the fall semester was about faith and doubt. While presenting, Patrick Hummel used a quote that really struck my attention. In it, he said: “Faith is not primarily a function of how you feel. Faith is living out and believing what truth is despite what you feel.”
Recently, I have noticed a few people who have an interesting view of what is considered acceptable behavior during chapel. There have been a number of phones out, coupled with audible conversations taking place while a speaker is presenting. These people most likely do not feel like going to chapel, but as this quote suggests, our faith is not synonymous with feeling.
What if we looked at chapel like we do sports practices? I do not always feel like going to soccer practice, but I do it anyway. Why? Because it is required, and I know that going will help my team reach our end goal of winning the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament. I will be the first to say that I do not always feel “in the mood” to go to chapel. But, sometimes I end up leaving chapel with a renewed sense of joy in knowing that hundreds of my classmates just worshipped Christ together, and I was not a source of distraction. So if you do not want to be in chapel, just remember that part of being a good neighbor is encouraging your other neighbors in their walk with Christ. Encouragement may just come in the form of sitting still and putting your phone down.
Just as I value making it to the GPAC finals in soccer, do we at Northwestern value our time with God? If yes, then we must also value the accountability that comes from chapel requirements. Chapel is one of the only times that our entire campus is together. This community worship is incredibly valuable, and I think it is time we start treating it that way.