Should Chapel Be Optional?

Chapel is admittedly one of the most widely discussed facets of the WCA community. This time of worship is not perfect, but what can we do about it? And how are those who run this time making it a God-honoring time?

In an interview with Mr. Ottolini, Director of Spiritual Life and the person running and organizing every Chapel all year round, he explained that chapel is one of the most discussed topics in the community. 

Mr. Ottolini explains how administrators, teachers, and students have a lot of opinions about Chapel and how it is being run. “I probably have a meeting once a week about Chapel.”

“We have over 200 churches represented in the school, and we have a large contingency of people who have grown up in church all their life.” 

He further elaborated on how difficult it is to get people engaged in something they have heard many times, while also catering to those who do not have as much of an understanding of the Bible. The melting pot of denominational diversity we have at WCA is wonderful and a testament to the unity we have in Christ, but it also can lead to many complexities in student engagement with worship.

“Students that have been in the Church all their life approach Chapel with a different context, as opposed to those who are maybe newer to the faith. And the goal of Chapel is to show that the Gospel can speak into both”

This can bring complication because some have heard these topics copiously and there are many other reasons as to why students struggle to engage.

“In chapel many students cannot focus on the message because others are goofing off. And it’s not exactly a cool thing [to focus] anyway.” said Chase Borage, Sophomore.

Because of the constant clapping, jeering, or laughing at chapel, it has become a time that students who wish to worship during chapel, cannot. 

But giving problems without a solution is not useful. Mr. Ottolini brought up interesting solutions before even asked. 

“I have been floating around the ideas with regards for student engagement and bringing a renewed spiritual developement to the student body such as an optional chapel, small groups, great questions, life questions, and worship in the word.” Mr. Ottolini explained.

There is no silver bullet, though, and all of these ideas come with their own pros, cons, opportunities, and limitations.

Amidst many conversation that Mr. Ottolini is having regarding chapel this is one of many ideas to encourage student engagement.

“Give your teenager a say in what and how things are done. IF your teenager has had a say in setting the agenda and the timetable they will be much more motivated to participate.” said Chris Hudson, Youth Specialist. With the myriad ideas that always get tossed out, it becomes quite difficult to find ways to improve.

Mr. Ottolini further admitted that chapel can be a bit of a battle, something that takes a lot of time to get right.

“I wouldn’t say it is a losing battle, just an evolving one.”

But the Spiritual Life Director left on a good note. He explained how as long as the gospel is being presented we are doing well. The community can argue on the smaller issues but at the end of the day Mr Ottolini works hard for our community. 

In the end, some things are very clear. Chapel gives our community a chance to engage with the Gospel together every week. Chapel has been a lightning rod of critique, praise, and everything in between for years and years. Both of these facts will most likely remain and continue to prompt discussion and further proposals. Optional or not, it is not going away, nor is the need to work to continue making it relevant for the WCA community.