Students across different majors, backgrounds and school years have ranked the main categories of chapel and shared their thoughts on their preferences.
Chapel is a significant part of Azusa Pacific, with various changes made over the years. The university offers different kinds of chapel, such as Kaelo, Liturgical and University Passage, as just a few examples. With the chapel program coming to a close for this semester, what do APU students enjoy most about it and why?
To answer this, I conducted a survey where a total of 18 students ranked the different categories of chapel by their preferences and shared their thoughts on the choices they made.
Out of the 18 students, 33.3% were senior students, 27.8% were sophomores, 22.2% were freshmen and 16.7% were juniors.
The majors these students come from were Business Management, Economics, Journalism, Kinesiology, Music, Nursing, Physics, Psychology, Youth Ministries and Undeclared.
The survey had students rank the different chapel forms based on their preferences from favorite to least favorite. This was done into three categories: themed, types of speakers and genres.
The first category was theming. In this form, six different themes were ranked: University Passage (dark blue), University Practice (red), Liturgical Chapel (orange), Global Vision Chapel (green), Response Chapel (purple) and Kaleo (light blue).
Out of the six themes, Kaleo was picked as the favorite by four students. University Passage was the least-picked favorite with only two students. Liturgical Chapel was picked by five students as their least favorite while University Passage, University Practice and Kaleo were each picked twice.
The next category was the type of speakers. The students ranked six different types: APU Faculty (dark blue), APU Spiritual Life Staff (red), Pastors from Local Churches (orange), Students (green), Special Guest Speakers (purple) and All-music Worship Chapels (light blue).
Special guest speakers were the most favorite type of speaker, with almost half choosing it. On the other hand, student speakers didn’t have any students pick it as their favorite. However, almost half of the students who participated picked student speakers as their least favorite type of speaker with special guests being picked the least.
The last category was the genre. The four options that students ranked were Gospel (blue), International/Multilingual (red), Liturgical (orange), and Contemporary (green).
Gospel was ranked highest in being the favorite chapel genre, with International/Multilingual being the least picked favorite. On the other spectrum, Liturgical was determined to be the least favorite genre. Contemporary and Gospel are tied for being the least picked option for the most unpopular chapel genre.
Looking at these results, the reasons for this varied from the students with specific speakers, styles of chapel and pointed messages being the main contributors toward their rankings.
One example is Matthew Anderson, a senior Physics major, who put APU Faculty, University Passage and Liturgical (Genre) as his favorites. “I like hearing APU faculty because I know many of them on a personal level. Hearing them speak is especially impactful. University Passage chapels reminds me of John Wallace, since the first time I heard was from him,” Anderson wrote.
As for Anderson’s least favorite picks, he put Global Vision, Student Chapel and Gospel at the bottom of his rankings. “Global Vision chapels seem bland and uninventive. The same goes for chapels with student panels. They follow the same strokes and leave us with unoriginal morals/lessons,” Anderson explained.
Another example is Christine Cajulis, a junior Psychology major, who put Kaleo, All-Music Worship and International/Multilingual as her top favorites. “International/multilingual is my highest ranked because it brings such a refreshing perspective into chapel and the many stories of experience about sharing the gospel and with Jesus can bring a lot of insight for APU students,” Cajulis pointed out.
Cajulis ranked Liturgical (Theme), APU Spiritual Life and Liturgical (Genre) as her least favorites. “Liturgical is my lowest ranked because I like worshiping and this type of chapel isn’t my style even though I appreciate what this type of chapel does bring to the table,” Cajulis wrote.
One other example is Katie Wong, a sophomore Nursing major, who put Response Chapel, Special Guest Speaker and Contemporary as her favorites. “Most similar to discussions I have had before. More interesting. Often feels more relevant. I like to analyze messages/song lyrics for scriptural adherence,” Wong explained.
As for the other side, Wong put Kaleo, Local Pastors and Gospel as being her least favorite types of chapel. “Less relevant to me. Not as interesting. Sometimes not as similar to discussions I have had before. Nothing against them, but it is what I prefer,” Wong wrote.
The last example is Daryn McCall, a freshman with an undeclared major. He took the survey, placing Global Vision, All-Music Worship and Gospel at the top of his rankings. “The gospel church gets everyone interested and they all interact more with the dancing, singing and clapping,” McCall explained.
His least favorites were University Passage, Special Guest Speakers and Liturgical (Genre). The reason for this was that “It’s just never been my favorite, I think it needs more spunk.”
In response to this survey, Director of Chapel of Pastoral Care Jason Le Shana commented that it was encouraging to see students have different favorites.
“I/we really believe that with how diverse our student body is, if we’re doing it faithfully then each student will be able to identify something in chapel that feels resonant/”at home”, and will be able to identify at least one thing that is stretching/challenging to them, or is just simply not their preference.”
When asked how Chapel comes up with new ways to make it more intriguing and unique, Le Shana explained that it is a complex process that involves many different people who each have their own ideas and inputs.
“So, how do we contextualize our values/goals in every new year is where the fun (and challenge) comes in! I would say it’s good for students to know that one of the goals of chapel is not to “wow” you or cause you to feel entertained — not that those are bad things, but they’re not the main focus. The focus is worshiping the living God in community!”
Finally, when asked if there are any plans for new themes, genres and speakers for the next school year, Le Shana replied, “We will almost certainly carry some consistent elements into 2023-24 while introducing some new speakers or themes.”