Every household is different just like each member of the household is at a different place in their faith journey, so here are some ideas on how to grow more faithful in seven different areas of your faith life:
Faithfully Give: be more faithful in giving
Money, like time, is a finite resources for all of us and every person’s situation is different. The reason the Bible and Jesus talk about money so much is because it is often a metric or measuring stick for where we put our faith. We hold on to things of value tightly instead of with open hands recognizing that God is the giver of all things. While God, in the Old Testament law and wisdom (Proverbs,) instructed his people to give the first 10% of their labor to God through the priests and temple, we as New Testament Christians use that as a jumping off point and remember that Jesus called his disciples to be willing to give up everything they had to follow Him. So with that said, here are some ideas for growing in the discipline of being faithful to give:
- If you rarely or have never given, give! Give to your church’s general fund and attach your name to it, even if it is cash, put it in an envelope and ascribe your name to it. This is not for credit’s sake but for a declaration of faithfulness to those who manage the finances for the church. The younger you are in getting into the habit of faithfully giving, the more faithfully you’ll give over the totality of life and the younger you will be in discovering the blessings that come from being a cheerful and generous person!
- If you give frequently or even every time you attend church, consider signing up for recurring giving through your church’s online giving service or pre-write checks or pre-fill out giving envelopes for the next 45 days. Recurring giving helps you stay faithful when vacations, sickness, or bad weather hits. Don’t dismiss the value of giving in a predictable, recurring way. The worship of surrendering the future decision-making of your giving can be more sacrificial for many than the act of physically placing the offering in a plate, basket, or box each Sunday.
- If you already faithfully give weekly, no matter what, consider how you can increase your faith through giving over the next 45 days. Pray over what God may be asking you to sacrifice/surrender that could give your church momentum and increase the number of members of the body that are stretching themselves during this 45 days.
Faithfully Grow: 45 minutes a day in prayer and God’s Word
Growth is essential in the life of a believer of Jesus. In fact, Jesus himself said that disciples of his will be known by the fruit they produce. And that’s what growing and productive trees do: they grow fruit. The number one way we grow fruit as Christians is we spend time with God seeking to know Him and be more like His Son through studying the Bible and giving God our prayers. Here are some ideas how to make that happen:
- Start each morning with some spiritual breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day! Open your bible or bible app and start a reading plan. Never done that before? Start with the Gospel of John that tells the story of Jesus and His ministry.
- Create a prayer list; things and people to pray for and set reminders to check it throughout the day. Simply ask God to intervene, comfort, or illuminate a situation or person to His character and will for their season in life.
- Worship music is good, but bible teaching is better! One of my favorite ways of growing faithfully is sneaking growth into my commute by listening to sermons and bible teachers through the radio or podcasts.
Faithfully Invite: 4-5 households invited to come to church
A church grows best when its members invite someone from another household to come hear God’s Word read and taught in a corporate setting, where we congregate and worship God publicly in a place where anyone is welcome. Inviting friends, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers to our weekly family gathering allows us to share the grace and good news that we have received. You are a far more effective and personal invitation tool than any billboard, postcard, or marketing gimmick. Here are some ideas on how to have invitation conversations:
- Tell a story on how your church has helped you personally.
- Tell a story on how your church has helped someone in the community.
- Tell a story on how you have grown (or are growing) in an area of life where the other person is struggling.
- Tell the other person how much it would mean to you if they came.
Faithfully Gather: participate in or start a community group that meets in a home or in the marketplace
Gathering as a family once a week to worship corporately is important, but gathering in smaller groups of believers is how we know others best and how we are truly known and cared for when the storms of life hit. Over the next 45 days, consider these ways of helping your church more faithfully gather:
- Join a community group. Whatever your church calls them (life groups, small groups, etc.,) join one. Being in community with other believers is key; Jesus had a community group of twelve where they grew together with Christ at the center. Find one that works with your schedule (or change your schedule) and join.
- Lead a community group. You don’t need to be Jesus to do this, just keep Him at the center. Whether it’s a sermon-based discussion group or you use a book or curriculum that is approved by your church leadership, starting a community group can be as basic as opening up your home or being a contact person/host for a group that meets at a coffee shop or the church.
- Split a community group. Wait, this sounds divisive! It is! Some groups become so great that they outgrow their optimal size. Take your experience of being in that great group and grow into a new, separate group. Sure you’ll miss a lot of the old gang, but you’ll be being faithful to replicate and multiply the culture that makes your group so great (by the way, this is what church planting looks like too!)
Faithfully Share: 4-5 conversations about Jesus with friends/neighbors
Similar to being faithful to invite people to church, faithfully sharing about Jesus can start with simply sharing a story from your life. Before/after stories are great, but don’t discount the power of a before/during story; that God is not done with you yet. Sharing about the process of how God is transforming your life and how Jesus is the reason that you can make it through this season in your life is powerful. I know it’s scary to be raw and open about your faith but if no one had shared with you, you would be lost. Testify to what Jesus has done and is doing in your life!
Faithfully Fast: 45 days of sacrifice or abstinence
Christians should fast. There, I said it! Fasting is not dieting and not even identifying with Christ’s suffering, but it’s emptying ourselves of things or habits that separate us from God or fill us with things that we worship other than God. When we fast, we’re emptying our lives, for a season, of something that we replace with more of God and His presence. We end up relying on God to fill that void and be our strength. Ideas for fasting during the coming 45 days:
- Comfort foods or beverages that are almost indispensable in your daily diet.
- Comforting/escaping activities that rarely make us think of God yet fill a void or help us self-medicate from our day, even sleep!
- Reclaiming time and/or money from these things can also help us give, grow, and gather more. Fasting can also help us with the last category which is…
Faithfully Serve: 4-5 instances of serving through the church
Acts of service is a love language that many people interpret as a communication of love. The greatest act of service ever performed for the church was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; He gave his life in service of the church. Good news: there are a myriad of ways you can serve the church that are short of that! When you serve at or through the church, you are being the hands and feet of Jesus and participating in making disciples. Here are just a few of the ways you can serve the church:
- Volunteer for weekend worship services. Whether it’s greeting in the parking lot, lobby, or checking in kids in the children’s areas, the weekend worship gatherings happen because people are willing to serve.
- Complete a background check and serve with preschoolers, children, or students. The biblical education programs of the church are to supplement parents as the primary disciplers of their children. As more families join our church family, we need more adults that have a love of Christ and are willing to teach the gospel of grace to our children.
- Go through food bank training and become a food bank volunteer (or other benevolence ministry that your church operates.) Giving strangers and friends in our community practical help is an outreach and kindness that every church should give attention to and it offers another opportunity for you to share and invite!
- Clean, fix, and care for the physical residence of our church body and our members’ individual residences. Church maintenance and home repairs for single parents, widows, and shut-ins are always needed within our faith community. Sweep floors, pick up trash, clean windows; all are loving ways of physically caring for others.
- Prayer ministry and visitation. People are in need of prayer and community, especially when the storms of life hit. Join a team of prayer warriors, hand holders, and casserole makers to love one another as Christ has loved us!