Monday, 2 March 2009
Making Chapel Services Optional? Further Random Throughts about Preaching
Let's face it. While we desire to see chapel services as part of our spiritual formation in the seminary, the fact remains that attending seminary chapel may not necessary be what everyone looks forward to. I am not sure whether my observation here is accurate or not. But if I were to take a glance across the chapel, perhaps there are sufficient indications to suggest that there is some merit to my observation. Some would bring along their books to occupy time in chapel. Some, instead of paying attention to the sermon, would be dozing off. Some would be doing something else, such as playing games on their mobiles phones, etc. Sometimes I wonder whether our presence in chapel is simply to satisfy the requirement that chapel is compulsory for the seminary.
I have once suggested something radical before - let's make chapel optional. Let's give the students a choice of whether they would like to attend chapel or not.
I raise this issue to myself once again because it is my turn to preach in chapel next Tuesday.
Let's imagine this: If chapel is made optional, I wonder whether there would still be anyone sitting in the hall when I preach next Tuesday. If the seminary community knows that it's my turn to preach next Tuesday, will they still come and listen to me?
What if my fear is materialised next Tuesday? What if there is no audience when I stand up to preach next Tuesday? One thing for sure - I will not blame anyone. I will take it that this is a very clear indication to me about myself, my preaching and the quality of my sermon. I will take it that it is time for me to do some soul searching and to evaluate my preparation, my preaching, and the content of my message. I will have to ask hard questions. Have I not sufficiently prepared for my preaching in chapel? Have I taken chapel service too lightly myself? Have my sermon been so boring that it not only fails to exhort and encourage the community but it clearly reflects my ill preparation? Have I abused the pulpit by failing to adequately prepare myself?
If this is the case, perhaps it is time to listen to my sermons once again. Perhaps it is time to evaluate my attitude towards preaching and the the fundamentals of what it means to worship our Creator God. It is time to repent.
Deep in my heart, I wish for the day that students would still attend chapel even if it is optional. Wouldn't it be great if chapel services were so uplifting, encouraging and edifying that even though it is optional, students would still come in full force, knowing that they would have missed something if they skipped chapel? Wouldn't it be great that chapel services would be spiritually uplifting for both the preacher and the listener?
In the final analysis, I can only say this: Who says chapel is part of the spiritual formation for the students only? It is part of my spiritual formation as a lecturer too.