Big Change to Chapel Policy
The Office of Spiritual Development has announced some major changes to the policy for Chapel attendance and makeups.
VIDEO: Dr. Todd Pickett, Dean of Spiritual Development, explains the new Chapel Accountability policy.
The New Chapel Policy effective Fall 2011:
• If a student fails to attend the minimum physical attendance requirement of 15 chapels & 4 conferences, a fee of $375 will be automatically charged to their accounts each semester they fall short.
• If a student attends their minimum physical attendance requirement, but fails to turn in their makeups by the Makeup Deadline Date, a fee of $375 will be automatically charged to their account.
• If a student needs to makeup more than 15 chapels or 4 conferences, they will be charged $375 fee.
• If a student fails their physical requirement & fails to turn in their makeups, they will be charged $375 total.
• The following semester, Spiritual Development will hold a one-day retreat at the beginning of the semester and students that attend this retreat will have $125 credited back to their accounts.
• Please note: if you are senior in your final/graduating semester, you do NOT have a Chapel OR Conference requirement. However, if you are a senior and are not graduating, you have a Chapel and Conference requirement.
What was the previous policy?
• In the past, when student’s failed to attend their minimum chapels/ conferences they were placed on Chapel Probation the next semester, which gave them one more semester to get back on track.
• If they failed to attain their chapel/conference credits during the next semester, they would be limited to 12 units the following semester (or do community service).
What was the problem with that?
• Limiting students to 12 units sometimes meant they would have to take another course during interterm or summer, costing them thousands of dollars or delay graduation.
• Students had often already registered for the next semester courses, making it increasingly impractical to remove units from their registration at the semester’s end (if they failed the requirement a second time).
• It a policy that was neither clear nor, apparently effective as an accountability system since many students were failing probation (not meeting the requirement two semesters in a row).
• Many students were not taking the makeup deadline seriously. If they were late, nothing really would happen to them, so we would be receiving make- ups up to 3 months after the deadline. Also, many students would not take advantage of the grace of doing make-ups to complete their requirement. This cost spiritual development many hours of tracking down students for make-ups, calling, emailing, etc. Money is better spent on improving chapel and spiritual development programming, not enforcing policies.
Is it really right to fine people for not going to chapel?
• All university educational requirements have some form of accountability. If you don’t meet the minimum requirement of a course, for instances, you will get a non-passing grade. This in many cases means you have to pay more (similar to a fine) to take that class again, and in some cases it can cost students another semester.
• Note that students are fined for breaching other community standards (e.g., Residence Hall fines for rooms left in disarray). Biola is the only school we know of that allow “make-ups”—an allowance for students who cannot get to all chapels in a given semester. This makes it much easier for students to avoid failing the requirement. Many Christian schools have some sort of fine system in place for their chapel programs. It is a common form of accountability.
So no more Chapel Probation?
With the new policy change, there will be no more confusion with regard to being or not being on Chapel Probation. This we hope will motivate students from the start to be on top of their chapel/conference requirement and intentionally plan it into their schedules. It also allows for students to practice intentionality and responsibility in their lives which will serve them dividends in the future, because once they are out of Biola they will be faced with many more demands on their time and actions that Spiritual Development and Abiding in Christ are going to be so important.
Ultimately, students come to Biola to be equipped in mind and character. Spiritual Development through chapels is one of the areas Biola deems for the students to be intentional about being equipped in both.
What’s this refund retreat all about?
Our primary concern in Spiritual Development is coming along students and helping them discern what the Spirit of God is doing in their lives. When a student fails to make the community requirement of chapel, it concerns us. This is not about money, but is a form or accountability that helps students engage in the rhythms of worshiping together and in the curriculum we offer for their spiritual formation.
Toward that end, we will provide a 1-day retreat for students to attend early on in the semester following their chapel requirement “failure.” When they attend the retreat, $125 of the $375 fine will be refunded. It will be something the students will have to be intentional and responsible with if they choose to attend, which is exactly the same approach each student needs to take with their chapel/conference requirement.
Is Chapel trying to replace Church?
May it never be! We are here as one part of the student’s undergraduate education. Chapel is not the local Church and we highly encourage our students to get plugged into a local Body of Christ for community, discipleship, the ministry of the Word and Sacrament, etc.
Biola’s mission statement is equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a training ground for the mind and character of a Christian, and the faculty and staff at Biola University have designed spiritual development curriculums for our student’s spiritual formation. During the 4-5 years a student is here at Biola, he/she has an incredible opportunity to grow in these spiritual disciplines and understandings in order to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ, so that when they leave here they are not just heavy in the head but also shaped in their character. The chapel/ conference requirement is an opportunity for students to enter into the disciplines of worship and spiritual formation in order to grow in those areas in which we all need spiritual development.
Some Other Changes
There are changes afoot in Spiritual Development at Biola! An 8-week Thursday chapel series on Spiritual Formation is taking place in Calvary Chapel to teach the basics of spiritual growth, and this will be followed up by two other 8-week series, one on relationships and another on vocation.
Every Tuesday night at Fives, we are teaching experientially the time-honored rhythms of honest prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and scripture meditation. On three Saturday Sabbathings each semester, we are leading students in how to spend large blocks of time with God—listening and discerning what He is doing in their lives.
And in MWF “big” chapels, we are moving through Monday Word (biblical study) chapels (this year on the theme of Sacred Space) and Wednesday “Wisdom” chapels on one of the following topics: Christian Living, Apologetics, Missions and Evangelism, Culture and the Arts, Justice and Reconciliation, and Spiritual Development. In addition, we are offering Spiritual Direction (as resources allow) for students to digest all of this in their personal walk with the Lord.
This is a curriculum, a more connected, coherent, and intentional education for your spiritual development. Because it is a crucial part of your education at Biola, we are calling you toward a commitment and accountability to it similar in effect to that helping you with your academic development. We hope you see it that way, too.