The Local Church and You
1. Jesus had something unique in mind for the church.
The Apostles took seriously Jesus’s instructions: “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV).
They witnessed the Holy Spirit animating this community and cooperated with him to serve and train them, an enduring gathering of God’s called people (Acts 2; I Corinthians 3:9-11). They took pains to ensure the teachings and the practices of the church were faithfully preserved and passed down (II Timothy 2:2).
Together, as one body, the church shares a universal sense of oneness with Christ (I Corinthians 12:27-28; Galatians 3:26-28). But that universal oneness, or catholicity, is importantly lived out in local gatherings that worship, pray, and serve together (Colossians 3:15-17; Hebrews 10:24-25).
There is nothing in the world that does quite the same job. The church baptizes, serves the Lord’s Supper, and facilitates worship, service, and the preaching of the Word.
2. Your educational community can never replace your church community.
The church is unique. Having said that, we can also speak to the unique role a Briercrest education plays in a student’s life.
Our Mission: “Briercrest is a community of learning that calls students to seek the kingdom of God, to be shaped profoundly by the scriptures, and to be formed spiritually and intellectually for lives of service.”
All three schools offer an experience designed to promote transformation in students. Whether finishing high school or completing a professional degree, preparing for vocational ministry or taking time to discern next steps, a Briercrest student is meant to have every opportunity to become a more skilled, more mature member of their church and their world. Our community exists to nurture spiritual, intellectual, and practical growth.
But the Briercrest community can never replace what happens in the church.
The church is uniquely poised to fulfill certain purposes Christ gave it so students should seek out a home church.
The Spirit is free to use scripture and community however and wherever he chooses. But hearing the Word read, taught, or preached by your professor or classmate is qualitatively different from hearing it read and preached by a dually ordained minister when the church gathers. Your local church is a special community set apart for a unique role in your spiritual formation (I Timothy 3:14-15).
Enjoy chapel, feed on the Word in class, fellowship in the dorm, cafeteria, and other areas. But do not let it replace the church in your life.
3. The Church Provides Critical Learning Integration for Your Briercrest Education.
In her Tedx Talk about sensory learning styles, Tesia Marshik comments: “Most of what you learn is stored in terms of meaning, not tied to one particular sensory mode.”
Whether taking courses on psychology, Old Testament, theology, or business administration, students are in a Christian higher education context designed to help them “equip the church and engage the world.” That worldview frame conditions the meaning of their studies.
Marshik says: “In order to retain information we have to organize it in a way that’s meaningful. We have to make connections to it, connecting it to our experiences or coming up with our own examples. Or thinking how what we’re learning in one class relates to other things we know.”
It really doesn’t matter whether a student is preparing for full time ministry or training for another occupation. Church involvement offers learning opportunities vital to their studies.
The worship and preaching of the Word shapes your posture towards God. Serving as a Sunday school teacher or youth leader forms the way you pass on what you’ve been given in Christ. Involvement in the community and life of the church provides opportunity to exercise skills learned at Briercrest.
All our professional degrees involve practicums and internships in a student’s chosen field of study. A home church is an important hands-on experience while being “formed spiritually and intellectually for lives of service.”
4. Serving opportunities in church are transformative.
The Apostle Paul connected transformation with self-sacrifice and the exercise of our gifts within the body of Christ, the church (Romans 12:1-8).
Helping out as a greeter or a musician or a kids’ minister demands a certain self-sacrifice. As you serve with the abilities God has invested in you (no matter how small they feel), He will likely also use it as formative experience in your personal discipleship.
He may test your patience. He could ask you to endure in the face of difficulty. He will surely present you with a chance to love people when it is difficult.
In all these things, you will have the chance to be shaped more into the kind of servant Jesus himself is.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:4-8 ESV)
5. Church belonging during school helps shape the rest of your life.
Highschool, undergraduate studies, and graduate training are all formative times of life. What you give yourself to in these seasons establishes habits you will carry with you following your studies.
If the church serves a unique role in the kingdom of God and lives of service, it is a natural fit for your time at Briercrest. Deciding against church involvement while studying here actually works against the personal formation Briercrest is intended to promote.
Whatever reasons exists to resist church involvement – the student life already involves ‘too much pressure,’ loyalty to your home church of origin, no ride to a church out of town – there are more reasons to find a place to belong.
Wherever you go and whatever season you are in, there will always be obstacles to investing in a local church community. Begin setting a pattern of involvement right now. Set yourself up for the future.
Beginning with the End in Mind
Highschool, college, and seminary students alike are preparing for the rest of their lives. If they come to Briercrest, we imagine they are also interested in the kingdom of God, the scriptures, and lives of service.
That vision of a flourishing life is tied to the life of the church, so we could not be more supportive of our students finding a local church to grow, serve, and be formed.