Since most people were AWOL on New Year’s Day worship services, I saved my New Year’s challenge sermon for yesterday.  Honestly, it was less a sermon and more a dare.  What I did was to adapt some material I learned in one of my pastor clusters from back in December and used it to help my church grow spiritually.  The material is not unique to me–I am not this smart.  However, I do think it is true and that these are great challenges to growing spiritually in our walk with Jesus.

Challenge 1:  Become a Self Feeder

Too many Christ-followers exist on sermons and small groups as their only spiritual diet.  That is like eating out at a restaurant for every meal.  It makes a person fat and lazy.  By contrast, a person who knows how to cook will never go hungry.  Becoming a self feeder means reading the Bible systematically and praying intentionally.  Stop waiting for the pastor to tie a bib around your metaphorical neck and cram smashed gospel or strained Moses into your mouth as he or she says, “Here comes the choo choo.”

Challenge 2:  Share Your Faith

For us this does not mean aggressive door-to-door campaigns.  We are much more relaxed than that.  But it does mean that we nurture spiritual conversations with people as we “invest and invite.”  All of us know people who we’d love to come to church with us but we just don’t get around to inviting them.  Why?  The only reasonable answer is complacency.

Challenge 3:  Join a Small Group

God calls us to live in community with other people, not as isolated monks.  Even in a church as small as ours it is impossible to connect with people in meaningful relationships by attending worship only.  For people already in small groups, I challenged them to kick up their level of commitment to it by being more involved in the work it takes to make a small group happen.

Challenge 4:  Find a Place to Serve

I’m always talking about service in some way or another.  The spin I put on this challenge is to emphasize that the burden to serve is on the individual and not the church.  People who claim to follow Christ ought to have enough impetus and desire to search, seek, and then initiate the opportunity for service.  The excuse, “No one ever asked me to help,” will simply not cut it with Jesus when you get to heaven and he asks why you never did anything meaningful for others while on earth.

Challenge 5:  Give FinanciallyIt is impossible to be a fully developed follower of Christ and not be a fully developed giver.

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