School of Music


Doctor of Philosophy


Richard Scott Connell


Japan, Christian, mission, music, worship, college, evangelism, spiritual engagement


Liturgy and Worship | Missions and World Christianity


This study seeks to examine the extent to which non-Christian college students in Japan perceive their engagement with the biblical God while participating in daily chapel services at Kyūshū Lutheran College. The research employs a mixed-methods approach, analyzing survey and focus group data to explore whether a relationship exists between students’ participation in chapel committee activities and their perceived spiritual engagement. Responses to Lynn Underwood’s Daily Spiritual Experience Survey, the Centrality of Religiosity Scale, and the Centrality of Buddhist Religiosity Scale are combined to create a general spiritual profile of respondents. Worship leaders and missionaries who are in positions of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ in primarily non-Christian communities will be both encouraged and challenged by the results of this research project. Christian leaders serving in Japan may be surprised by the findings that previous notions that Japanese tend to identify and live with co-existing realms of spirituality are corroborated, but in this study, the belief and behavioral distinctions typically attributed to Shintō and Buddhist beliefs or worldview contradict existing literature. Analysis of survey data shows that the strongest indicator of engagement during worship is chapel committee participation. The components with which students perceive the most heightened engagement includes singing, listening to Scripture being read, and the benediction. Participation in music groups shows a slightly elevated correlation to spiritual engagement during worship, and seems to be a context within which healthy forms of pre-evangelization can take place. Data from this research provides practical starting points for meaningful future research possibilities and reveals opportunities for continued ministry and evangelism in Japan.