Chapel: Get serious about church commitment
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
If the subject of Dustin Tappan’s talk on Monday morning at Grand Canyon University Arena sounded new to the Chapel crowd, it’s because it was.
Tappan, lead Next Generation pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley, was emphatic and direct: It is not enough to just follow Jesus on your own. Pointing to Ephesians 5:25-32, Tappan said that just as Christ gave his life for the church, you must be an active, regular participant in a church to truly be committed to God.
GCU’s Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin said it was the first time in his four-plus years at the University that he could recall a Chapel speaker delivering that message. “That’s why we have pastors speak — to raise the identity of the local churches,” he said. “It’s important that students hear this and get connected with a local church.”
Tappan quoted from a March 2014 survey conducted by Barna Group, which found that only two of 10 Millennials (age 30 and younger) consider church attendance important, 35 percent said they are anti-church and 59 percent who grew up in a church said they have dropped out at some point. You can view the survey’s findings here.
It is not enough, Tappan said, to pray on your own. It is not enough to just go to church occasionally. It is not enough to go to Chapel and do nothing else.
“I think that what’s really going on in today’s church culture is that many Jesus followers, Christians, are dating the church,” he said. “It’s kind of an expendable relationship with the church. They are treating the church like it can be tossed aside.”
To drive home his point, Tappan put it in terms anyone can understand: the idea of being unwilling to commit to a relationship in the dating world, something he said he did at first when he was dating his wife, Megan. Tappan had the crowd cackling as he told of how he went to great lengths to avoid a commitment even though he was the one who had first pursued the relationship and considered Megan the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
Later, Tappan talked of what hasn’t worked at many churches in recent years — creating a youth-oriented service and expecting strangers to connect. A better solution is to have them attend the regular service and then have a special youth-ministry gathering afterward. At Christ’s Church, adults ages 18-29 gather every Sunday, after the noon service, to have coffee and talk.
“We have a hard time answering the questions they’re asking,” Tappan said. “So this way they can get together after the adult service, and maybe they’ll find some buddies at church. But this is just a start. Nobody is pretending that this is going to be the answer for us for sure. You keep trying things.”
Tappan’s attitude is that if young people don’t stay after the service, they’re not going to keep coming back week after week. And he’s not out to attract just one or two people — he wants to keep them coming back in bunches and bringing their friends. To that end, he hopes his message at Chapel will resonate across the GCU campus and come from administrators and professors as well.
“I wanted kids to walk out of here thinking, ‘You know what? That’s the kick in the pants that my dad has been trying to give me.’ I’d like to see GCU communicate a message like this through its infrastructure,” he said.
● For a replay of Tappan’s talk, click here.
● For a slideshow from Monday, click here.
● Next week’s Chapel speaker: Brian Kruckenberg, New City Church
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.