For the first two years of my life at college, I slept in late on Sundays.
There was a hole in my heart I couldn’t seem to fill by partying on Friday and Saturday night, but Sunday service wasn’t the answer. The local church was just a place for people to come and be fake together. As a college student struggling to keep up with my studies and a social life, more judgment felt like the last thing I needed.
But I knew my heart craved truth, and an invitation from a pretty girl got me up in the morning one day early in my junior year. I went to my local Anglican church, and had my convictions challenged.
“You have made us for Yourself, oh God; and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” ~St. Augustine of Hippo
Instead of fakery, I found family.
Instead of judgment, I found belonging.
Instead of piety, I found honest, abounding, unconditional grace.
If you’re a college student reading this, or skeptical about the church in general, here are three reasons why you should consider your local Anglican church.
1. It has what you feel like you’re missing.
When I went off to school, after the excitement of being on my own wore off, I felt a sense of loneliness that even the great friends I was making couldn’t shake. There was a feeling of homelessness that haunted me. More than a roof over my head, I missed belonging to a family, the comfort that comes from a home-cooked meal, and the love and care of those older than me.
Cue the local church.
It is a place to come as you are, where people want to know your name and honestly hear how you are doing. You can uniquely interact with people of all different ages and stages of life: singles of all ages who can offer you friendship and brother/sisterhood, young married couples who will give you hope for your near-future, and older couples who can give perspective and advice. Opportunities abound for a home-cooked meal and ordinary-yet-special fellowship.
I found it easy to call the parishioners around me my brothers and sisters. There was an underlying love I felt for them because our status ran deeper than just friendship. Though I would never have chosen relationship with some or even most of them, we share a bond that transcends choice and allows me to enjoy and be annoyed, to forbear and forgive, to be forgiven and accepted.
Investing in your local church means gaining membership in a family related by blood—the blood of the Lamb.
2. Anglicanism is a reliable way to be a Christian.
You can find community at a lot of different churches. So why consider an Anglican church? The liturgy!
Anglican churches aren’t the only liturgical churches out there, but whatever your background (or lack thereof) in the Church, the Anglican liturgy will change you. Each week you will confess your sins, have Christ’s absolution pronounced over you, hear the Word of God read aloud and preached, and celebrate and take part in the Lord Jesus’ passion and death in the Eucharist.
The words you say each week, grounded in history and said by millions of other Christians around the world, will not just be words—they will be written on your heart, changing the way you think about and pray to God.
Additionally, in his recent book, Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Allure of Liturgy for a New Generation, Winfield Bevins points to a number of potential draws for the postmodern millennial churchgoer, including
- sacramental spirituality,
- gracious orthodoxy, and
- a sense of reverence and mysticism.
Maybe best of all, in Anglicanism you get to involve your body. The service is never static: you will stand, recite, kneel, sit and appreciate that the sermons rarely run over twenty-five minutes!
3. Your local Anglican church needs you.
In my ministry at a Christian college, I come across hundreds of students who drive thirty minutes-plus to attend trendy megachurches—and, though my heart is saddened for the number of local churches within walking distance, I’m glad! I will never cast stones against someone who feels they’ve found their church home.
But if there’s something missing from your church experience, I want to challenge you to go local. If you’re slipping out as the last worship song starts or can’t name more than five of the people sitting around you, I want to challenge you to be known.
At least in North America, there aren’t many Anglican megachurches. Most are on the smaller side. This means that, at a smaller, local, Anglican church:
- You can bring your personality to your local church congregation and be a sign of hope, energizing their ministry efforts.
- You will have access to your pastor and fellow parishioners in a way that will afford the opportunity for personal, meaningful relationships—more than just a face in the crowd.
- You can become an integral part of the life of your local church, “knit together in love” because of Christ (Col. 2:2).
The body of Christ: imperfect people following a perfect God.
My former perception of the local church was skewed, but not entirely unfair. The church had failed me as a teenager, and there is plenty of judgment and sin sitting in the pews of every sanctuary everywhere.
But when we let this stop us from engaging entirely with the church, we miss the point of the Gospel.
Our weakness, wronging one another, falling short because of sin, is a given—but so is the goodness of the God we serve. The mistake I made was judging the church by the people (in desperate need of saving), instead of the Savior.
Understanding the power of the cross helped me to receive the grace bought for me, and by the power of the Spirit, reflect that grace in turn. It has made me part of a faithful, reliable, loving family, with a better Father than any of us deserve.
Consider the church that has what you’re missing, that is rooted in history and a communion of millions of believers, that needs you: your local Anglican church.
If the Anglican way has piqued your interest, check out this interview with Winfield Bevins for more information on our ever ancient, ever new form of liturgical church and worship. If you’d like to find an Anglican Church near you, Google “Anglican church” or use the Anglican Church in North America’s church finder map.