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Chapel Attendance: Point and Counter-point

Pro:

I have gone through seasons of both support and aggravation with the PLNU chapel policies. In fact, if you had asked me this question a year ago, I would’ve given you a very different answer – what changed is my maturity and acceptance of obligations.

I am slowly reaching a point in life of accepting that being an adult is a transitional period of total humility and acceptance. Obligations are okay. Having to do something that I don’t particularly love is okay. Not everything in my life will be exactly what I want all the time, and that is okay.

Anyone can take about seven steps down Caf Lane and realize that Point Loma will not necessarily provide students with the typical “college experience.” Things are different here. While it is true that other universities do not have as strict of a requirement for chapel attendance – if any – it is also true that there are many other universities people could attend. Every student currently enrolled in PLNU has agreed to the requirements to attend chapel.

I recently got a ticket for running a red light, which was my fault as I was well aware of the rules of the road. I have also been fined for chapel attendance and the same holds true. I might have complained a little about both – however, that doesn’t mean I believe that the rules of the road should be dropped. Similarly, just because I have sometimes fallen short of the expectations I agreed to, doesn’t mean I think we should get rid of the chapel requirement.

I do not believe that the faculty and students who make chapel happen intend to make that hour problematic. They have proven this through the creation and implementation of other worship opportunities in order to appeal to a variety of talents and passions of all students.

Chapel attendance is also radically different from its beginnings. Reaching the minimum chapel attendance requirements no longer means sitting in Brown Chapel a few times a week. Attending certain discipleship groups or ministries equates to chapel scans.

I have seen PLNU students worship together and become one body – coming together is exactly what God calls us to do throughout the Bible. Psalm 133:1 summarizes this concept perfectly. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” I believe that the opportunity for the body of PLNU to come together a few times a week is a sweet gift of rest and community.

Brittney Siordia is a junior majoring in political science.

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Con:

According to the mission statement of PLNU, the institution exists to “provide higher education in a vital Christian community where minds are engaged and challenged, character is modeled and formed, and service becomes an expression of faith.”

Church attendance should be a regular aspect of a believer’s life. Those who love God should love His people and feel encouraged to attend church. Church can develop character, help someone discover their gifts and increase fellowship in the community. The Book of Hebrews encourages Christians to attend church by saying, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and do good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Here, we can see that coming together with other believers should be a custom in which we learn, lift others up and make disciples.

With that being said, going to church consistently is not an indication of someone who is saved or a “better Christian” than another believer. For example, someone could be a consistent churchgoer but not practice his or her Christian beliefs outside of their church. As a part of the body of Christ, Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the amount of times a person goes to church is not the only thing that dictates their status as a follower of Christ. The life one lives outside of the church and the good decisions they make are a huge part of being a believer. Going to church is an extension of whom a believer is.

As a junior at PLNU, I have experienced over two years of attending chapel here. Currently, PLNU offers chapel on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:45-10:30 a.m., with a special Timeout service on Wednesday nights from 9:30-10:30 p.m. Depending on their year in school, students are required to attend a certain number of chapels per semester. What I have observed is that requiring chapel can sometimes be stressful and counterproductive.

Requiring young adults to go to chapel can be a bad idea because it makes people feel obligated to attend, rather than encouraged to expand their faith of their own free will. Many times, I have witnessed students attending chapel only because of the requirement. They feel pressured into going to chapel because they see it as an obligation and a way to avoid a fine. Although these students attend chapel, I often see them on their phones or work on homework instead of paying attention and listening intently to the speaker.

If chapel is supposed to be a time where people are “engaged,” “challenged,” and character is being “modeled and formed,” being required to go against one’s will is not accomplishing the university’s mission. I feel that making every chapel at the university a mandatory rule will only discourage people to grow in their faith.

PLNU students should have a desire to go to chapel to receive the Word of God and connect with other believers. If anything, allowing students to attend out of their own free will by not requiring it would be healthy involvement. The expression of their faith would be shown in the times they attend chapel and pay attention because they genuinely want to be there.

Is attending church or chapel important? Absolutely. Should attending every chapel that PLNU offers during the week be a requirement? No.

Alexis Faust is a junior majoring in media communications and film studies & performance.

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