Should chapel be completely device free or have some exceptions for phone use?

Throughout this academic year, some have pointed out that more students are using technology during chapel. While phone usage is discouraged, phones are no longer taken away after warnings are given by chapel staff.

I spoke to Coba Canales, Azusa Pacific’s Dean of Spiritual life, who directly oversees the staff members who handle monitoring and attendance for chapel. “Our policy [in regards to technology] has never changed when students attend chapel. The lesser number of staff has made it challenging to monitor everyone,” Canales said.

Canales touched on the importance of staying present in the chapel citing a desire to worship as a community.  

He further described how it is a blessing to hear the room during chapel worship with one another. “There is unity, power and transformation in worshiping with another as a whole,” said Canales. Personally, I too believe this and think that chapel can impact students in a positive way.

To elaborate, I believe phones and technology should not be used leisurely during chapel. It is disrespectful for students to check social media or emails during that time. When students are in chapel, that time should be spent paying attention to the presenter or the worship team. Students are asked to go to three 50-minute chapels each week. Is two and a half hours too much to ask for of a student’s time at a Christian university?

Canales shared how his experience was in chapel when he was a student at APU. “I was in awe that during chapel I can pause and worship God and reflect on the scriptures,” he said. Canales shared that he looked forward to chapel when he was an undergraduate. He also attended all the chapels his sophomore year because he liked the environment.

Canales also shared how at times in college, he struggled to be fully present in chapel while trying to balance sports and schooling. However, at the end of the day it was worth it. In fact, looking back, one of his favorite memories from APU was attending chapel and it’s one of things he misses most.

According to Canales, APU is not the only school that has noticed more technology use during chapel. Other colleges have reached out seeking solutions to this. With this semester at APU though, Canales has noticed an improvement during chapel with less technology being used. 

In my opinion, technology should not be used during chapel except with the exception of  emergency phone messages. In this case, the student should step out and use their phone outside of chapel. 

I asked a few students for their opinion if they think technology should be used in chapel or not. “I’m not a fan of phones being used in chapel. I feel worship deserves our undivided attention,” said Keoni Vareta, a junior business major who commutes to chapel.

Another perspective came from sophomore kinesiology major, David Vargas: “I believe that phones should not be used in chapel. I believe that’s a sign of disrespect to the people that are speaking.” 

Personally, I believe technology should not be used leisurely during chapel and should be put away. I think using technology for leisure during chapel is disruptive and not considerate to the other people there. It can also disrupt the experience for other students if they hear phones buzzing or see technology being used. Most of all, when phones are being used for no specific reason, it shifts the entire atmosphere.