What is Community at Briercrest Really Like?
It was my second year of college at Briercrest, and I remember I wasn't in the best place I've ever been in. My hallmates walked into my room and simply sat with me. They didn't say much, but they listened to me. They brought me through hardship.
This experience was a defining moment for me. Although it wasn't the most joyful experience at that moment, it was one that set the temperature for how highly I think of the community here at Briercrest. And I fully believe we are a community that cultivates relationship and discipleship.
I’ve written before about how Christian community is vital to us in our walk with Jesus. But in this article, I'm going to dive deeper into what community actually looks like here at Briercrest.
How Briercrest cultivates community
One of the first things that I noticed at Briercrest in my first year was the community of other believers who were passionate about their faith. I had experienced this before at camp, but there was a different element at Briercrest. I believe it was the community that happened for 8 months at a time here at Briercrest. Walking alongside each other in life created a beautiful atmosphere that ultimately pushed my faith to become stronger.
It is important to note the biblical emphasis on gathering together in community—just as the Psalmist proclaims, "how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1). Community at Briercrest is "good and pleasant." More specifically, living together in unity in these five areas is what community really looks here at Briercrest: 1. Dorm together 2. Chapel together 3. Academics together 4. Eating together, and 5. Events together.
Perhaps the most prevalent way that you can find community at Briercrest is by being in the dorm.
Dorm life is the epicentre of what the community is really like here at Briercrest. At its best, being in a dorm at Briercrest can cultivate a group of believers together that seek to dive deeper together.
For example, because of the COVID-19 pandemic in this specific year, going to churches in our surrounding community is quite limited. Instead of skipping church altogether, what we are doing as a hall is working through the Alpha program each Sunday morning in our main hangout area. The experience has been exceptional and has been transforming our hall as we have been able to learn more about what it means to be followers of God in community with each other. This is just one of the many examples of the amazing fruit that comes from the dorm life at Briercrest.
Doing life together in the dorm is what community really looks like at Briercrest.
Want to learn more about dorm life at Briercrest? Read "Why Living in Dorm Makes a Difference" here!
Along with dorm life, something I love is our regular times of chapel. More specifically, I love that we gather four times a week to worship God in chapel.
This has been my personal highlight each day. The best part? It's a time of worshipping our Heavenly Father. Being able to learn to become more like Jesus among our community of believers is transformational for our community.
I have personally seen lives shaped by people encountering God through chapel. The conversations coming out of these times I wouldn't trade for the world.
I remember one time a friend of mine told me that he was having a hard time experiencing God in that current season. But when he remembered the words from a song that we sang together during chapel that morning that proclaimed, "Even when I don't see it, you're working," he was reminded that God is still working in his life.
That was an encounter from God that happened during chapel, and to me, that is truly beautiful.
At Briercrest, the community has been set up to push one another to live a life of loving one another and doing God's good works. All this is spurred on by our daily gatherings of seeking God's kingdom together.
One sermon I don't think I'll ever forget is this one time a guest speaker spoke about keeping each other accountable as followers of Christ. I was not only convicted, but I was also inspired. This message hit so deep that as a community we began to follow the call to hold each other accountable as brothers and sisters in Christ. It was beautiful to see chapel bringing us back to the Way of Jesus: a way that calls us to love each other both in the hard and easy times.
Doing chapel together is what community really looks like at Briercrest.
Want to learn more about chapel at Briercrest? Read this blog from our chaplain explaining what discipleship at Briercrest really looks like.
Doing academics together is so crucial here at Briercrest. Isn't this why we’re here?
The average class size here at Briercrest is 19 people, an extremely low number for a post-secondary school. The most significant benefit to these class sizes is that it allows for a phenomenal community when learning together as students.
I can't tell you the number of times I have been able to connect deeper in my study with other fellow students because our classes were focused on discussion. Whatever class it was, being able to do classes together has been so helpful for me in this journey of doing academics together.
The academics at Briercrest cultivates community not only between students but also with professors.
To have professors actually care and want to see me succeed is really meaningful. It's not every day you go to a school where your professor invites you into their own home for a meal (yes, that happens here). Also here is a fun fact: the teacher to student ratio at Briercrest is 1:20.
Doing classes together is what community really looks like at Briercrest.
This one may not cross your mind immediately, but eating together is actually one of the most essential parts of quality community.
And at Briercrest, part of our community's beautiful culture includes being able to eat together every day, three times a day. We have a cafeteria that hosts the vast majority of our student body for 8 months of the year, and it's awesome!
I remember this time in my first year, I sat at the table with some people who got into a really deep conversation. The conversation was so meaningful, and we ended up praying for each other at the end.
It's not that all conversations we have at the cafeteria are super deep, but there is something special about eating together that cultivates the community here at Briercrest. The memories made from the cafeteria can be lasting, which has been true for me in my life.
Eating together is what community really looks like at Briercrest.
Want to learn more about eating in the cafeteria at Briercrest? Read about what it looks like to find community in the cafeteria here!
With our smaller student body, the events we host are a lot more intentional. There are a variety of events we do—for example, as I'm writing this, I’m looking ahead to a dorm date this Thursday night (I'm an RA, and we are doing a scavenger hunt!), trivia night on Friday (I'm definitely going to Brooklyn 99), we have a spike ball tournament on Saturday afternoon (in hopeful odds me and my boy Max will win). Lastly, we have an outreach event where we are going to bless our neighbours by raking leaves off their lawns (this is going to be my personal favourite).
The events we do have lots of variety. Not only is Briercrest intentional in building the community among us, but also the community beyond us.
I had the fantastic opportunity to be the Outreach Coordinator in my second year of college; my highlight in this role was doing Operation Christmas Child as a school. We packed 833 shoe boxes and had over 150 volunteers from our community in the college. We drove all these boxes into Moose Jaw, perhaps making an eternal impact on 833 children.
Community at Briercrest
Word on the street says there is something special about Briercrest, and if you ask me, it's the community.
I fully believe that Briercrest is a community that cultivates relationship and discipleship, a concept that is vital to us as followers of Jesus. And though it's not limited to these five points, I believe this is what the community actually looks like at Briercrest, and I would not be where I am today without the community at Briercrest.