I love church, I really do. While at Nyack, I did a lot of “church shopping”. But on weeks that I didn’t make it to church, chapel was a great stand-in. The community of believers, worship, and message encouraged me and gave me many opportunities to grow in my faith. Being back in PA, I’ve been attending the church I work for, and it’s been hitting me how alike yet different church and chapel are.
In my “church-shopping” especially, I have learned the importance of worship. God has shown me that if your heart is honest, the worship team and style doesn’t matter. Sure, I prefer some styles to others, but I have really learned the importance of the meanings behind songs rather than the rhythm of them. Nyack’s rotating chapel worship teams provide a contemporary mood, so I like to look for a more traditional set in a church –but that’s completely preference– and my church in PA has a great mix of both.
A prominent part of any church service is the message. Nyack books an incredibly wide range of speakers from around the world: men, women, locals, people from other countries, alumni, students, and more. This is one of the things I really love about Nyack, but there is also something I love about having the same few pastors preach and having a personal connection to them. Nyack taps into this as well, and occasionally invites a pastor to speak for an entire week. Working at a church, I have the awesome opportunity to get to know the pastors on a personal level, and even observe them as they go through the process of writing sermons.
Finally, a crucial part to any church atmosphere is the community of people involved. I love going to chapel with the same people I live with and go to class with because it provides an awesome opportunity to experience God together. On the other hand, I like having a separate group of believers who aren’t necessarily going through all the same stuff I am. I like interacting with people of all ages, some who work, some who are parents or children, and worshiping God with them, and that’s why having a home church is very important to me.
After thinking through the similarities and differences between these two atmospheres, I found that both are essential to my life as a college student. I would encourage all students to go out into their communities and become involved in a church, even if they regularly attend chapel. Not necessarily because chapel is lacking in any particular way, but because church and chapel are two very different experiences. But, however it is your choice to meet with God, I would encourage you to be all there. A devoted, real, and honest heart is truly pleasing to our God. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” -John 4:23-24