Studying Worship on Seminary Campuses: Other Analytical Tools

Surveys are wonderful – though limited – tools for gathering data on worship priorities and practices. The survey used by the CICW/Brehm study group asked broad questions in four categories: Leadership, Liturgy, Community, and Curriculum. Many other research goals and strategies might suggest other questions and/or analytical data-gathering mechanisms.

Other Analytical Tools

Surveys are wonderful – though limited – tools for gathering data on worship priorities and practices. The survey used by the CICW/Brehm study group asked broad questions in four categories: Leadership, Liturgy, Community, and Curriculum. Many other research goals and strategies might suggest other questions and/or analytical data-gathering mechanisms. 

Jennifer Lord, Dean of the Chapel at Austin Theological Seminary, recently engaged in a study of worship at other seminaries of the PC(USA). She is still processing the data gleaned from this survey, but she has generously agreed to allow her survey questions to be posted here as an instructive comparative example:

Describe the chapel program at your seminary: the number of chapel services per week; description of the services (preaching service; Eucharistic service; daily prayer office; wholeness and healing; Taizé, gospel, other)

How do students participate in preparation and leadership of seminary chapel services and how is this coordinated?

How are students involved in any reflection on chapel services?

Do your worship committee and/or school have a mission statement or description of goals and purposes for the chapel program? If so please include these.

Does your faculty see the chapel program as an integral to theological education in your context? Or is chapel an intrusion into the curriculum? How does your faculty speak of these things?

Are there discussions around music or leadership styles; forms of worship; experiences of worship as encountered in the chapel services?

Comment on any gifts and tensions regarding your seminary chapel program and multicultural worship.

Given these questions and your reflections, how does seminary chapel at your school teach? What are the pedagogical strategies?

How do we articulate the purpose of worship, and the purpose of worship in a seminary setting? How do these purposes relate to pedagogy?

How do discussions about Christian worship in North American culture shape the nature and purpose of seminary chapel services? 

© 2007 Jennifer L. Lord. Used by permission.

 

In another study, Lester Ruth, Lily May Jarvis Professor of Christian Worship at Asbury Theological Seminary, along with J.D. Walt, Dean of the Chapel at the Wilmore campus, constructed a survey to gather data on the role of Chapel on Asbury’s two main campuses. While it covers some of the same ground as the surveys above, it is a different sort of questionnaire; it collects quantitative data on central questions of value. So, for example, instead of asking what sort of correspondence there might be between classroom and worship modeled in chapel, it asks rather whether there should be any correspondence, and records the strength of the response (see question 18). 

Again, we have received kind permission to post here the questions from that survey.

Questionnaire regarding the Role of Chapel

Instructions: Please note that “worship” in this survey refers generally, i.e. to a whole worship service and to its separate actions. Mark each of the following statements as to how critical a role each is for worship at the seminary. 
a) very important b) somewhat important c) neutral d) not very important e) not at all important

To give me good ideas as to how to lead worship after graduation

To model good biblical preaching

To enhance community as the context for seminary education

To grow spiritually as a Christian disciple

To re-create past experiences where I have encountered God in worship

To experiment with new ways of worship

To grow in Christian/spiritual formation

To model faithful worship for the church

To have seminary chapels encourage me and give me energy for doing my work in the seminary

To make community happen, to bring our community together as the context for theological education

To model a variety of kinds of Christian worship

To gain a vision of God

To enhance the teaching done in classes

To give an opportunity for professors and their administrators to be pastoral and demonstrate their faith

To encourage persons preparing for ministry

To glorify God in a communal setting


Of the preceding list (statements 1-16), which is the most critical for the life of the community in your opinion? 
(Note that this question asks respondents to choose ONE among the previous 16 statements as the most critical. Data from this question can be broken down by constituency. For example, do students and faculty fundamentally disagree about the most important function of worship on the seminary campus?)


Should there be correspondence between the classroom and what is modeled in worship in chapel?


During the current semester, did our chapel services regularly substitute for your worship in a local church?


Should worship in our seminary have the same role(s) that it does in the life of a Christian congregation?

During the current semester, what was your level of attendance at Tuesday/Thursday chapels? Mark the answer most representative of your attendance: a) I never miss or almost never miss; b) I attend more than half; c) I attend less than half; d) I never attend.

If you miss regularly or frequently, why? a) by circumstance; b) by choice

During the current semester, what was your level of attendance at Wednesday chapels? a) I never miss or almost never miss; b) I attend more than half; c) I attend less than half; d) I never attend.

What is your level of attendance at other seminary worship services beyond these chapels? (e.g. dorm services, Easter vigils, commencement, etc.) a) I never miss; b) I make most of these; c) I rarely participate; d) I never come
Instructions: Faithful Christian worship achieves its goal when (please rank questions 25-28 from highest to lowest, using each of the numbers 1,2,3, and 4 only once):


Christian community is strengthened.

I feel I have an experience with God.

Persons are formed and transformed in Christ.

The Story of God in Scripture is unfolded.

 

[the remaining questions gathered data about status on campus (faculty, spouse, student, staff, etc.), degree program and year in program, ethnicity, denominational affiliation, and gender]

© 2007 Lester Ruth and J.D. Walt. Used by permission.

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