Chapel and School Life
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that is taken and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it is leavened” (Mt 13:33).
We have remarkable opportunities in our schools to engage the minds of our students in the “big questions of life” through our Religious Education, Religious Studies, or Theology programmes. But we know that Christianity is not an intellectual exercise but a faith. Faith involves trusting someone, and such trust can only grow through the experiences of encountering and living with that person. In our schools, we hope that students will encounter Jesus through chapel, or times of prayer and contemplation, or service programmes, or relationships with each other and staff. We also hope they will taste what life with Jesus is like through living restoratively and learning to value the ways of living and being that Jesus taught.
Our church schools are strong on values, and that’s a great thing. New Zealand state schools are also strong on values, and that’s also great. But because we all have the same inheritance of 2000 years of Christian culture shaping our worldviews, it is often hard to tell the difference between the values parents can expect their children to be taught in state or church schools. Are we really any different? Do we have anything extra to offer?
Restorative practices are a deeply Christian way of interacting with each other. They are based on the beliefs that all people are worthy of respect, we are all interconnected, it is possible for people to change and restoration of relationships is of great benefit.
The research shows that religious belief has a powerful impact on wellbeing. We don’t believe in God as a form of therapy, but we believe that we live life most fully with God at the centre. As the model Te Whare Tapa Wha shows, the doorway to wellbeing is through the spiritual “wall” of our “house”.
Sharing ideas for what has worked and what might work in our chapel services.
Across our schools in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, we hold more than 100 chapel services a week, 40 weeks a year.
We encourage students to be still and open to God not primarily because of the emotional and psychological benefits, but because that is a key way through which God reaches us with God’s presence and love.