Why go to church?

Anna and Ali

Hi Wesley!! My name is Anna Mug, and I will be a senior this fall (WOW!) I’ve been a part of Wesley since the very first Tuesday of freshman year. (Thanks Ali Garrett for taking me to the first house party!!!)  Over the past three years, Wesley has meant a lot of different things to me. Wesley is how I’ve learned what it means to really love Jesus. Wesley has taught me the importance of prioritizing Jesus and Tuesday nights at the Table. Wesley has taught me how to relax, have fun, and take a break from school. Wesley has also given me the best community, mentors, and friends. Looking back, I know that my SMU experience wouldn’t be the same without it. I know my relationship with Jesus wouldn’t be the same either.

Aside from Wesley, another community that has influenced my spiritual growth in college is Highland Park United Methodist Church. Crazy enough, I’ve been involved in HPUMC longer than I have in Wesley. Coming to college, it was super important for me to find a church to go to, so on my first visit to SMU as a sophomore in high school, my mom and I went to a Sunday morning service at HPUMC. Being from a small Methodist church, HPUMC seemed so big to me, but everything from the music to the prayer to the sermon just felt right. Most Sundays after that, my mom and I would watch the HPUMC Cornerstone service online. It was so neat for me to be connected to a church through an online service that later would become my church home! 

Starting my freshman year, I went to HPUMC every Sunday. In the beginning, I went because I felt like I had to. I grew up going to church every Sunday, and I almost felt like I was doing something wrong if I chose not to go. As I continued to learn more about myself and my faith, my perspective began to shift.

I began to realize that church wasn’t a chore but a way to stop, reconnect, and center myself on God. I realized that I needed Jesus not just on Sundays, but every day of the week. And that’s exactly what I got.

By attending church by myself or with Wesley House in a big group after coffee and donuts, I found myself knowing more about God and growing in relationship with him daily. I learned daily practices to help make Jesus a priority, like the first 15, where you spend the first 15 minutes of your morning in scripture. Now, three years later, I go because I choose to. I always look forward to Sunday mornings, not just for the friends and the social time, but because I want the time with God. I go in order to learn a little bit more about Jesus and to understand more about my faith. I go to learn how to follow Jesus more passionately every day. 

By January, I started to feel more comfortable at HPUMC, and I decided to officially join the church at the end of my freshman year. And what an awesome experience it’s been! After joining, I decided I wanted to get more involved in the church by serving. I’ve done a lot of different things over the years such as helping in the kids ministry, doing offering and passing out bulletins on Sunday morning, and serving on the church council. All these things helped me personally discover why Jesus called us to love and serve other people. It wasn’t just to check off a box to please God or to follow another command of his. Jesus asked because he knew it would change our hearts. I know that each time I serve, I always find myself more encouraged in my faith, and grateful. I connect with God more fully when I get another opportunity to show Christ’s love to someone else and spread a little more joy at the same time.

Serving has also helped me to connect to different people in the church. While I love Wesley and everything it is as a college ministry, I think it’s super important to connect with people of all backgrounds and ages in the church. Even if it’s just striking up a conversation while making lunches, there is so much to learn about others and God by engaging with believers in the church. I have found that there is so much strength in learning from other people’s faith journeys. You see Jesus better when you see and know more about your community. And in all honesty, as a senior, I know that my time in Wesley won’t last much longer. It was important for me to find a church in Dallas that I loved and wanted to continue to be a part of, long after my college years were over. 

Being involved in not only Wesley, but also HPUMC, has made a huge difference for me. Getting connected to the church looks different for everyone, and whether it’s sitting in the pew on Sunday, being a bible study leader for high school students, volunteering on Friday night at Night Owls, or participating in a day of service, the church has one million different ways to be involved. If you want to start going to church regularly, I would love for you to come with me! If you have questions about how to get involved at HPUMC or are interested in serving in some way, I would love to chat! Finding a faith community and a home church is so important. Whether it’s at HPUMC or somewhere else, I encourage you to get plugged in. I have learned in more ways than I can count what it means to really follow Jesus daily and to grow in a big community that will keep me accountable. 

To all of Wesley, I miss you so much, and I can’t wait to see you in just a month!!  

Anna

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