June 18, 2024

The Growing Pains of Spiritual Diversity

The entrance into A.J. Chapel. Photo by Micaiah Bushnell
The entrance into A.J. Chapel. Photo by Micaiah Bushnell
The entrance into A.J. Chapel.
Photo by Micaiah Bushnell

by: Nate Ryan ’19


In the most recent edition of the Tartan, student Liam Adams ’17 wrote an opinion piece on how he believes Gordon College should take a greater initiative to diversify the worship styles practiced in chapel to appeal to more student’s faith tradition. As a precursor, I would like to acknowledge that to a large degree I agree with his belief. The majority of the time, music played in the College’s chapel services only adhere to students from contemporary faith backgrounds. Certainly, a greater initiative could be taken to appeal to all students.  

With this being said, I find Adam’s statement that “the unrest some students feel during chapel is not healthy” and that “their discomfort is not a God-given trial that will eventually lead to spiritual growth” very problematic. While “trial” is a strong word, I believe that much spiritual growth can come from being exposed to worship settings that are contrary to the style you are used to, even if you are in the minority.  

Coming to worship our God should not be an act which is predicated by an individual’s need to feel an emotional experience or to feel “comfortable”. We come to worship as the Body of Christ and humbly bring ourselves before the awesome and loving Creator in adoration for what He has done for us. Furthermore, it is a communal effort. We are the Church. The ecclesia. The Assembly of believers in Christ. We are called to gather together as a community to worship and the reality of the situation is that we all worship in different ways. This is an absolute blessing and should not be taken for granted. Should chapel be more diversified? Yes. But I believe we are also called to humble ourselves and experience the presence of God in ways that at first may seem uncomfortable to us. This is an act that encourages and comes alongside our different-minded brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ as they seek to know God more themselves.

I certainly acknowledge that many individuals on Gordon’s campus feel like their traditions are underrepresented in chapel and I resonate with their sentiment. I believe we are called to action when we see initiatives that could be taken to help our fellow Christians. Instead of passively complaining about the lack of diversity found in Gordon’s worship settings, I encourage those who feel strongly about this issue to take it upon themselves to create spaces where diversity can take place. Start a group with friends to read scripture and liturgy together. Create a gospel quartet. Grab some hymnals and sing your heart out. I believe that complaining about these issues without taking the initiative to change them is contrary to the mission of the Church.

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