Campus News

Chapel in the eyes of Bethel College’s leaders

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Many Bethel College students attend chapel as a requirement, others for a sense of community.  Oftentimes students do not realize what their leaders think of chapel. What does chapel mean to the leaders of Bethel’s campus? What does it take to lead chapel in worship? When or how does chapel planning begin?  What do the leaders of Bethel College want the students to take away from chapel?  Let’s take a look at these questions through Bethel’s leaders. “Chapel is an opportunity for students to be of one accord…to be with peers and give God praise,” said worship leader Zachary Gillis. Chapel is precisely that—a time for our student body to be unified through Christ. “Chapel is the heartbeat of Bethel College,” said Shawn Holtgren, vice president for Student Development. “Chapel is a time for Bethel College to reflect what it means to be the body of Christ.” Leaders on campus believe that this is critical in their students’ lives; therefore, chapel is mandated.  It is important to attend chapel, not only as a student but for leaders as well. As Holtgren said, “What happens in chapel has an effect on the entire campus and our community.” Gillis said that chapel has felt like his home for eight years now, since he was a freshman attending Bethel College.  He has led worship in chapel for five years and believes his genre of music is different than other worship bands.  Each worship band has the same objective: helping the students open themselves up to the Holy Spirit moving throughout worship.  It’s the same message but with a different style.  Gillis believes this keeps the students engaged. “It is refreshing to see people get in the groove with [this genre of worship music] and become more accustomed to it,” said Gillis. Gillis shared his favorite memory of chapel in the spring of 2015, all of the worship teams combined for a chapel service.  Gillis explained that there was a unique energy between everyone.  Students wanted to stay in chapel to worship instead of going to class.  It takes patience, dedication and persistence to lead chapel in worship. Holtgren said that chapel is always on his mind.  Students can get involved by sending Holtgren suggestions on ideas for next year’s chapel services.  Holtgren explained that he usually begins focusing on the upcoming chapel year in March of the previous school year; and usually has a basis of the entire school year of chapels planned out by the end of June.  Holtgren said the easier portion of planning chapel is deciding when the annual events will occur, such as choir in chapel and Spiritual Emphasis Week.  Each chapel is purposefully planned and organized.  For example, Holtgren explained that, this past week, Bethel’s chapels were purposeful by having an intense, “heavy” spiritual week, such as Spiritual Emphasis Week, surrounded by a few “lighter” chapels, such as a musical group singing praises and a Christian comedian.  Holtgren also sifts through the Spiritual Life Survey.  He wants to know what the students are struggling with—depression, communication and connection with God, diving into the Bible and/or community with other believers.  By knowing this, Holtgren can gear each chapel to connect with the students accordingly. “You can’t shepherd if you don’t know the flock,” said Holtgren Holtgren’s goal is for students to see a piece of themselves in each speaker Bethel has at chapel.  A variety of gender, ethnicity and cultures is very important.  Much thought, time and prayer goes into organizing each and every chapel. What do Gillis and Holtgren want students to take away from chapel?  They both want students to leave chapel feeling more energized and replenished in the Spirit than how they came into chapel. Holtgren stated, “Great chapels don’t change people’s lives.  Only Jesus changes people’s lives.” It is up to the students on what they take away from chapel.  Holtgren shared his favorite memories of chapel, some simply being, “When students share about how their lives have been touched by Jesus.” The main goal of chapel is to have students encounter Jesus.  If only a single student can walk out of chapel changed by Jesus Christ, the goal has been met. Although many students see chapel as a requirement or simply a place to go to have a sense of community, Holtgren believes chapel should be an encounter with Jesus Christ.  As students walk to Everest Rohrer Chapel at 10 a.m., leaders around Bethel’s campus hope the students will open themselves up and allow God to move in their lives.
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