Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On School Chapel

This product, advertised at the LCMS main page, has got me to thinking about school chapel. Back in my wasted youth at Concordia - Seward there was a momentary tempest in a teapot about who could lead chapel. Profs of the XY variety were so allowed and some profettes of the XX variety got some dis in their gruntle over this perceived injustice. In my infinite 20 year old wisdom, I wrote a letter to the student newspaper encouraging the administration (who literally may have known of my existence since they periodically sent me bills) to fish or cut bait. Either chapel is worship, in which case, pastors should preside: End Of Line. Or chapel is "family devotions" in which case any Tom, Dick, or Harriet should get a slot on the rotation.

At the time, I was probably confused enough to take that "or" seriously. Chapel is worship. It happens in a church (or at least a "worship space"). The Bible is read and expounded publicly. Hymns are sung and liturgies (admittedly: often epically made up liturgies) are spoken, etc. It's worship. Really, it is.

And thus you don't need "chapel talks." You need sermons, or "catechetical instruction," given by the man who is called to that parish to "instruct both young and old" in Christian doctrine.

I'm sure these talks for sale at are very good theologically (though I must confess to not being willing to pay $25 to test my supposition). Indeed, I'm sure they are much, much better than the stereotypical "chapel talk" every Lutheran grade school alum can recall (ping pong balls and rice, eggs and Erlenmeyer flasks, chocolate sundaes and "it is finished," sins on paper burned in a jar, Jesus erases our sins, free donuts purchased by a third party's push ups...etc.). But why not go whole hog? Why not encourage our pastors to get back in the chancel? Why not encourage our teachers to realize that chapel is a time for them to receive the gifts just as much as the children are to receive them there?



  1. That product that you link to at the start of the article -- it assumes chapel is only once per week.

  2. Hmmmm. Put a woman up front in a worship setting with kids who are learning the faith. Might that not cause them to question what we teach concerning who can hold the office when they grow up? Sure it can be in un-taught, but why tempt them in the first place?

  3. Gary, I would have to agree with you about these troublesome practices. I remember when I was on Vicarage, we took the youth to a worship service at another LC-MS church geared towards "the young people" (which usually means the baby-boomers, but that's beside the point), and Holy Communion was served in front of the stage by the pastor, elders and their wives. I was sitting there wondering about the kids in the service. How many of the kids at this service are going to grow up confused and leave the church because they are taught one thing, but see another?

  4. Write a resolution for the synodical convention or petition the CTCR to study it.

  5. Let me tell you a story of two chapels, one an ELCA college and one an LCMS college... In talking with two students, the LCMS one said that chapel was a free for all with praise band and something new every time while the LCMS student who attended an ELCA college said that 99% of the time chapel was morning prayer right out of the book without sermon. Hmmm Why is it that we who claim to take confession and doctrine and worship more seriously put on a chapel that is anything but worship and those who admit to being different kind of Lutherans follow the book? If this happens on college campuses, I wonder what passes for chapel in the grade schools and high schools of Synod?

  6. Pastor Peters,
    As one of a number of LC-MS pastors in a large midwestern city with several grade schools and one Lutheran high school I could tell you exactly what "passes for chapel in the grade schools and high schools of Synod." But, frankly, you wouldn't want to know. It would only distress you further. Sadly the justification for the practices mentioned above (and others) comes not from Scripture or the Confessions, but an appeal to, "Synod/District say its okay."


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