Evenings at the Boardwalk Chapel are the focal point of the day, because that is when all the practice and training is realized as we focus on worship and outreach. It is when the group as a whole goes out and extends the Good News to the lost. It’s when we put on our joint program with the church group of the week. Our program is important. While there will come a day when evangelism is no longer needed, God’s creatures will always worship.
Some may wonder why the Chapel has programs at all, and why we don’t just put all our energy into street evangelism. “The purpose of the program is twofold. Audience number one is the Christians in the Chapel. Audience number two is people on the boardwalk,” said Matt Murmylo, the Chapel’s music and program director since 2021. “For the Christians, the programs are a moment when the staff can rest, be reminded of Biblical truth that they already know, and for them to worship. Then, the other purpose of the program is to share the Gospel through song, skits, and especially the preaching segments. We seek to draw the passerby into the Chapel, to incite their curiosity about what we do. For some, it’s an inviting moment to get close to Christians and maybe even start up some conversation. We’re just trying to come in contact with people so they can hear the Gospel.”
Programs at the Chapel are fun! The church groups who come in every week love to contribute music to the program. Our program is something we do together in collaboration. “There should be a Gospel message in each song,” said Pastor Zozzaro, the director of the Boardwalk Chapel. “Every skit should point you to the Gospel. We also use the music and skits to draw in an audience that otherwise wouldn’t stop and listen. It’s a multifaceted approach in bringing the Gospel to people. Sometimes they won’t just stop and listen if you’re doing street evangelism. But a song will catch them, either because of the level of skill in the musicians, or just because it’s a catchy tune. Or a skit might just seem funny and it grabs their eyes. A lot of times it grabs kids’ eyes, and they want to stop for a moment. It gives us different ways to give the same message. I’d love to see us singing more psalms, or sections of Scripture… the Word of God has power.”
Programs also at the Boardwalk Chapel also have what we call Gospel Moments, short five to ten minute sermons centered on the Gospel. Often the leaders of visiting church groups will contribute to these too, or young men on staff will take this opportunity to try delivering a mini sermon. This, too, is worshipful, since it is centered on God, and evangelistic, because it calls for repentance.
People of all kinds of backgrounds are vacationing in Wildwood. “Our audience isn’t just the lost. It’s Christians who are struggling, downcast, or depressed on the boardwalk,” said Pastor Zozzaro. “This gets them off of Vanity Fair and gets them reoriented. Worship choruses, or singing about the joy of being a Christian, or how the Lord takes us through difficult times—these serve a valuable ministry purpose as well. We lose focus if we say, ‘We’re just here for the lost. Oh, you’re a Christian, you’re depressed? Oh, too bad. Move along, somebody else can probably help you, but not us.’”
While evangelism will always be the primary work of the Chapel, worship itself is actually the goal that we seek to bring the unbelievers to do. We want to be in eternity with them worshiping God, when evangelism as we know it has ceased. Evangelism is the Chapel’s primary calling. Our programs are a tool in evangelism. But also, insofar as the praise, teaching, and prayer we offer up is pleasing to God, that too is an end in itself. When Christ returns and we rest in Him for all eternity, the need for evangelism will be gone and we will rest and worship unceasingly.
Faith will pass away, evangelism will pass away. Faith will become sight and evangelism will come to fruition in an innumerable multitude, praising God and saying, “‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:10b)