The Campus Minister

(I’m Learning to) Never Say Never

Eight years ago, when I first started at BU, we had no chapel service.

And the required convocation program that we had, was (and still is), housed in Student Affairs.

The short of the history is that once upon a time BU had a required chapel service — and open enrollment (attracting a good percentage of both Christian and non-Christian students) — which meant that about 20 years ago a shift from the required chapel service to a first iteration of the current convocation program became a necessity. The shift essentially stripped the program of many worship elements, diversified the programming, and gave the students a lot more options and opportunities to make choices in what they would and would not attend.

That, in part, is what attracted me to BU — the fact that there was no required chapel program, nor would I have to oversee the required convocation program.

You see, my undergrad experience spoiled me. It was a different BU — and it had voluntary chapel that took place three times a week. And it was always packed out.

But at each of the three schools I worked at before landing here, I observed different versions of a required chapel program — and saw more negatives than I did positives from those required programs. Even the most faithful of kids, at the most faithful of institutions, struggled to enjoy and fully engage in the required chapel program. As college students they were experiencing freedom in so many different areas of life, that to require them to participate in something as personal as worship just seemed to work about as well as stroking a cat from back to front or sanding a piece of wood across the grain.

So my takeaway after 8 years of experiencing that was simple — I don’t ever want to be in charge of a required chapel or convocation program. Not ever. No, never.

And so when I first saw the job description for my current position — without a hint of anything resembling chapel or convocation — I just knew it was the right job for me.

Fast-forward a few years into my current role… when I started to hear the whisper of a still, small voice… muttering something about chapel. I say muttering, because I don’t think I wanted to hear what that still, small voice was wanting to say. In fact, I was quite sure I didn’t want to hear it.

But knowing that this position is not about me — and what I want — but students, and what they need, I eventually gave in.

Re-introduce chapel to this campus, is what I heard. What!? Had God forgotten why this job had looked so appealing to me in the first place???

But again, wanting to be faithful to God — over and above my own desires, I began to work with God towards that very thing.

Fast-forward again to present day — the start of my 9th year on campus — and we are now running chapel three times a week. It’s not required, but students can get convocation credit for attending (we are one of many options for them). Oh, and there’s also a new chapel going up on campus — opening next fall.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I’d be here as a part of all this — in large part, because I didn’t want to.

But God’s kind of funny that way — isn’t He.