September 15, 2022 by

I’ve often heard that chapel is the “heartbeat of campus,” and I would say that’s an accurate description. Chapel is the only time when nearly the whole student body (or all the student body, during Fall Bible Conference) gathers together to worship God and study the Word! It’s what makes Cedarville unique. It’s what unites the students. It’s a little piece of what we can expect in heaven. 

What Chapel’s All About 

As the “heartbeat of campus,” chapel is important to Cedarville and, thus, important to engage with. Before I came to Cedarville, I worried that chapel would get old fast: 1 hour, 5 days a week? I wondered “what’s the point?,” especially if I was already attending a church service on Sundays. But Cedarville chapel is not church; it is something utterly distinct. For one, it is giving God our first of each day. Every person who attends Cedarville has made a declaration of faith. As believers, we have all decided to put God first — to recognize that nothing is more important than following Him. And what better way to do that than giving God one of the first hours of our day? Especially being busy college students, built-in time to meditate on God’s Word and praise Him alongside fellow believers is wonderful.
Chapel also allows us to become fully surrounded with God’s Word. “Faith comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17) and daily exposure to biblical teaching from Cedarville professors and visiting speakers (on top of Sunday morning church!) helps strengthen our faith. If nothing else, chapel provides an hour each day to remove ourselves from the daily stress and busyness of classes and work; it is time to simply be and reflect on God’s blessings. As a current junior at Cedarville who has experienced daily chapel for two years now, I can confidently say it does not get old. If anything, I’ve learned even more how important it is to devote time to learning from God and praising Him. 

What to Bring 

So, chapel’s important. That’s great. But how do you get anything out of it? And how do you focus when you have classes still on your mind? First and foremost, your chapel experiences— and whether you learn anything from them — depend completely on you. If you decide to sit in the very back row with your phone on and earbuds in, not listening to anything the speaker says, then you’ll get exactly what you’re putting in: nothing. For chapel to have any effect on you, you must engage.
The best items you can bring to chapel are a notebook and writing utensil. They don’t have to be fancy — you don’t have to be the student in the front row with 12 different colored markers and highlighters. But taking notes is the best possible thing you can do to focus on God’s Word. Jot down the date, the text, and anything that hits you as significant. Over the next few weeks, months, or years, when you look back on your notes, you’ll notice patterns. You’ll learn what God speaks to you. You’ll see how you’ve learned and grown and become more like Jesus.
Your Bible should be the next thing you bring to chapel. Especially if you have a journaling Bible and can take notes in the margins, having it with you will help you follow along with the text and take study notes that will benefit you later when you read on your own. However, with students often coming straight from or leaving straight to classes, sometimes you don’t have room for your Bible and your heavy textbooks. That’s okay. I often use the Bible app on my phone to follow along with the text instead. Really, there’s no wrong way to engage with chapel; do and bring what helps you listen and follow along best. 

Where to Sit 

Just as with what to bring, there’s no right answer. Many students enjoy sitting as close as they can to the stage to make it easier to focus and see the speaker. Others prefer gathering in the back rows to avoid feeling overstimulated from the loud worship music. And most people end up sitting with a group of friends, or at least their roommate — people with whom they can share the chapel experience, and maybe notes and thoughts later.
My friends and I enjoy sitting in the balcony where we have a high vantage point of the whole building. There’s something exciting about seeing the whole study body worship together or flip their Bibles open in unison from a bird’s-eye-view. Plus, the balcony feels much more private and cozy. But the best place to sit is often wherever is the least distracting and most engaging for you — and sometimes that’s just wherever your community sits. 

How to Stay Engaged 

Ultimately, engagement is a choice and a mindset. Sit with people who also strive to use chapel time to learn and worship. Put away your phone. Pull out your notebook. Set aside your stress and thoughts of classes or where you should eat lunch afterwards. Focus on the God who loves you, who provides, who gives you His all. If this is all a challenge for you, pray that God will help you focus — or that He will change your heart so you want to focus. Your 1,000 days at Cedarville aren’t infinite, after all. Make the most of chapel while you can! 

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