Some thoughts on the why and how of chapel at Union

L-R: Todd Brady, Tim Downey, creator of the TEALPASS LITE app, and Joe Ball, director of discipleship and Ministry in University Ministries.

In addition to a fine schedule of church planters, preachers, Bible teachers, seminary leaders and our own Union faculty in chapel this semester, we have a new and better way of recording chapel attendance through the TEALPASS LITE app. What a gift from God to be members of a Christian University where all of us, in our various disciplines, come together in the Spirit to collectively submit ourselves to God and worship Christ—the One in whom “all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Your response has been fantastic. Of course, with the rollout of any new system, there will be questions and hiccups along the way. Thank you for your grace, understanding and patience. Keep those cards and letters coming!

Please allow me to speak to the University’s new approach by highlighting the purpose of Chapel and the new process of recording Chapel attendance.

The Purpose of Chapel

The chapel experience is the central and focal event of the university – a time when we give public expression to who we are as a community. Understanding that nothing takes the place of the local church in a student’s life, the purpose of chapel at Union University is to worship God while fostering biblical formation, servant leadership, and global engagement as well as encouraging the integration of faith, learning, and living. Arthur F. Holmes stated that “all truth is God’s truth,” and we believe that the knowledge of truth should lead us to delight in God who has revealed the truth to us. Not only does the

Union community pursue growth in the truth of God; we worship the God of truth.

Chapel is merely one part of the total Union University experience, but it is an essential part. In addition to the phenomenal experiences that take place in the classroom as godly teachers teach and as our Student Life team provides excellent and Christ-centered co-curricular programming, our desire is for the entire community to come together a couple times each week to pursue our common goal of corporate worship and growth in Christ. While we may consider some chapels “better” than others and while we may have opinions related to style, each member of this Christian community bows the knee to our Almighty God in our chapel . . . as well as in the classroom, the dorm room, the cafeteria, the gym, the Wellness Center—indeed, in every square inch of space on this campus.

When considering our University’s Christian commitment as well as the Christian community which we have, I am reminded of Martin Luther’s words that “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”

My prayer for students at Union is that God would use the experiences of Chapel, in addition to other experiences at the University to shape them more and more into Christ-like individuals who are committed to God’s Word, committed to being salt and light in God’s world, and actively engaged in God’s work of global redemption.

The New Chapel Attendance Process

This semester we have moved from scanning cards to register chapel attendance to checking our attendance on the TEALPASS LITE app. The folks in IT have been great in selecting a chapel attendance

recording system that is more efficient and provides reliable data—something we asked them to look at a while back. (Without IT, Union would not be able to do what it does—provide Christ centered education that promotes excellence and character development in service to Church and society! Props to IT!)

The TEALPASS LITE app was selected for four reasons—1) to record attendance more efficiently, 2) to capture accurate data related to our chapel attendance, 3) to allow for more time to be focused on what takes place in chapel, and 4) to give us all more time for face-to-face conversations with one another. (It’s called community, y’all.)

If you are concerned about the creeping use of technology, (and you should be—for the sake of your soul!), remember that we as humans have dominion over technology, and that technology is meant to be a servant, not a master. Don’t use technology as an excuse for your distraction from godliness. Rather, like Paul told Timothy, “Train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) Scanning your ID was a form of technology, albeit old school. Using the TEALPASS LITE app is yet another form of technology. However, if for some reason, you are a conscientious objector to Smartphones or the TEALPASS app or if you have made the decision to be more disciplined by eliminating some forms of technology from your life, good for you! If you would rather not adopt that form of technology, you may scan your ID in the Chapel foyer. To be clear, you do not have to have a smartphone. University Ministries is always happy to assist you.

Bluetooth will be turned on in the chapel toward the end of the service. You can simply and quickly record your attendance after the service as you head out. Again, if you have any questions come by the University Ministries office. Of course, you can email, but we’d rather have a good old fashioned, face-to-face conversation with you so that we can get to know you—not merely take care of your chapel attendance issues.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

I am praying for you this fall. Have a great semester. I look forward to seeing you in chapel along the way!