How do we grow in faith? Can we, as a church, a community of faith, encourage growth in faith through some things that we do and the actions that we take?
Growing faith isn’t something that happens by accident. It’s something that we can control and encourage with our actions and the steps that we take to move closer to God. We can see it in a handprint.
Our faith involves God’s handprint on our lives. So if you hold up your hand, you get the visual of what I’m about to say. The palm represents God, the connection with the Holy Spirit and that leaves five key areas that lead to growth in our faith: Love God, Love People, Do Stuff, Meet People, Live Life.
So, to explain each of the five areas:
LOVE GOD. Everything begins with a connection to God. Everyone has some form of God experience and it will be as unique as we are. There’s a moment when our lives connect with Scripture, the Holy Spirit is involved and we find that what we are hearing applies in our life. That’s the key word here — application. As a church our mission isn’t just to give people information. Very few people experience life chance through Greek and Hebrew word studies and fun facts from the Bible. It’s all about application. At every level of the church, we should have a goal of finding a way to apply what we are hearing in our lives. Even children understand that there is something that they can “do” when it comes to God’s love.
I remember times where I was listening to the pastor give a sermon and I was wondering when he put down the sermon notes and picked up the letter that was addressed to me and only to me. It was clear in those God moments that I heard something that spoke to where I was in my life. Loving God opens us up to that connection and to that transforming love in our lives.
LOVE PEOPLE. Our faith grows best when we are involved in a community of people. We do that through worship, through Bible studies and small groups, through ministries, through mission trips, through mentoring relationships, through growth groups. Our key in this area is finding a way to move people who attend worship services on Sunday to the next step in connection.
Have you ever looked at spider web. A spider web can be huge, but when you move closer to it, you see the individual pieces and connections. The goal for church is to create a series of connections that help to move us along in our discipleship and create a sense of “belonging” in the community of faith. A churhc might look big from the outside, but on the inside, it is a series of connection points including Sunday School, small groups, accountability groups, Bible studies, mentoring groups, etc.
DO STUFF. Our faith grows when we put ministry into action. As a church, we have to maximize our opportunities for people to get involved in active ministry. The WARM Project, Stop Hunger Now, Salkehatchie, Missions trips, helping at the Manna House, packing backpacks for kids who need food, assisting others following hurricanes and tornadoes — all of those experience can lead us to a new level in our faith development. We see it in Scripture, in the middle of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he sends his followers out in pairs to go and do ministry.
We experience God when we Do Stuff — big stuff, amazing stuff, life-changing stuff – in the name of Christ.
MEET PEOPLE. All of us meet people in our life’s journey who have a tremendous impact on our faith. We have a chance encounter with someone who shares their faith with us, or someone who shows the world what it means to follow Jesus. I had an experience like this when I was on a mission trip to Ocean Springs, Miss. In the middle of a community that was decimated by a storm, I had a conversation with a woman who reflected the love of God in a tough situation. It had a tremendous impact on my journey to ministry.
LIVE LIFE Another big impact on our faith journey will be the events that we encounter in life. Some of those events are uplifting, encouraging and amazing. And others are absolutely tragic and tough. All of them will have an impact on our faith journey.
But there’s a key to what we’ve been talking about: Love God, Love People, Do Stuff. That’s something within our power to do. And they help us to see what happens when we Meet People and Live Life through the eyes of God. Everyone experiences tragic events, loss and pain in their life. The key to our life of faith is how we interpret what we experience in life in light of our faith in God.
As a church, our goal should be to encourage growth in faith and discipleship in our journey of moving closer and closer to God. In every level of our church, even down to our youngest children, the goal becomes finding ways to maximize these five areas as connections points.
God truly makes all things work together for his God. We have an amazing opportunity as a church to take steps together in that journey and to transform our own lives and the world around us.
How has God’s handprint affected your life of faith?
Love God. Love People. Do Stuff. Meet People. Live Life.