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Making chapel spiritual again

By Jacob Doberenz

The spiritual development opportunities offered on campus is one of the many reasons I chose Oklahoma Christian University. I knew the professors would help me build my spiritual habits as much as study habits. Here, I witnessed a religious climate that could spur me on to higher spiritual growth.

Observing the Ethos program, I naively thought the alternative chapels could accomplish this feat. However, after a year at this school, I wonder if Christian development has been lost in an onslaught of convenient and unapologetic chapels that seek to add knowledge, but not practical knowledge of God.

As I look out among the cafeteria line of chapels, I see many with proactive claims. When 11 a.m. rolls around, most days of the week you can find that one chapel that rubs its hands together maniacally, relishing in the controversy, happy that the speaker for the day can declare to the audience “Everything you’ve been told is a lie!” Diving into the deepest of religious debates and connecting two characteristically dissimilar pieces of content for no reason whatsoever, theology is stripped of application, mined of practicality.

Yes, I exaggerate – I know there is no ill intention among the many men and women that bring us these chapels. My simple request is that I grow in my relationship with Christ and with others.

As a Bible major with a shirt that says “Theology Nerd,” I’m totally a fan of these discussions. I find it beneficial in my walk with God to wrestle with theodicy, universalism and the correct approach to Scripture. But when I swipe my ID, I want my Kudo to mean more than a number on MyOC; I want it to be part of an effort to become a better Christian.

Christians do need to be educated on these subjects. For example, I think the church has neglected serious discussion about the creation-evolution dilemma for far too long. Let’s talk about it! But maybe – just maybe – chapel isn’t the best place to have these conversations.

Of course, not every chapel is useless to my relationship with Jesus. A lot of chapels do their job – they push me to think, but to think on things that will impact my life. I recognize that sometimes a passionate speaker who forgets the point of chapel and gets sidetracked causes this phenomenon. And I’m not even advocating that every single chapel ever ends with “What does this mean to your daily life?” I’m just asking for some improvement in the “spiritual” part of Spiritual Life.

Oklahoma Christian’s website claims, “With our ETHOS model for Spiritual Life, students can use their gifts and talents to grow in faith, glorify God and serve others.” All I ask is that students and faculty remember this mission as they sit down and plan Ethos events.

I never experienced daily Christian worship growing up in public school and my hope is that these Ethos events can complement the textual learning I receive in my Bible course with spiritual encouragement.

If any of you are craving controversy or are elated at intellectual discussions, consider some of the tough Christian questions that connect right back to every one of our lives. I’ll give you some freebies: How do you pray? How do you know when God is speaking to you? What is our role in the government? How exactly do you love your enemies? How do I worship Christ in my career?

Perhaps we can bring meaning to meeting up every day in the variety of locations we do. What if the 65 or so Ethos events stimulated our growth and not our confusion? If each and every chapel shifted its focus on encouraging each student to take bigger, better, bolder steps in their walk with God, Ethos could fulfill its mission.


Jacob Doberenz is a sophomore at Oklahoma Christian University. 

The opinions of guest columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Talon or Oklahoma Christian University. Guest opinions are presented to foster public debate on important topics and comments should be respectful and signed.

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