“Phrase from world of education – continuing the learning journey”
God wants us to grow as Christians
Last week I pointed to SEVEN areas, any one of which might be the area where you might be wanting to grow as a Christian.
1 GROWING IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
? Knowing God better? Prayer and worship becoming more real?
Eph 1: 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
2 GROWING IN OUR KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
? Understanding the Bible better? Finding answers to life’s deep questions?
Disciples are learners. A lifetime of learning !!!
3 GROWING IN OUR WITNESS AND SERVICE
? Serving God in new ways in the church or in the community? Sharing your faith with others more effectively?
4 GROWING IN THE IMAGE OF CHRIST
? Growing in holiness and Christian character?
5 GROWING BY DEEPER FELLOWSHIP
? Closer Christian friendships?
Growing close to God implies growing closer to each other. This isn’t about more meetings! It’s about deeper friendships!!
6 GROWING IN VICTORY
? More strength to live your day to day life? More joy, greater peace, greater victory in your Christian life?
7. Growing in PASSION
There is a difference between being a believer and being an enthusiast!
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. (Rom 12:11)
Growing in our relationship with God
Growing in knowledge and understanding
Growing in witness and service
Growing in the image of Christ
Growing by deeper fellowship
Growing in victory
Growing in passion
ANY OF THESE might be an area where you might want to grow in your Christian life!
But HOW can we grow? What practical steps can we each be taking? This week I want to look at 10 ways God wants to bless us. Let me say again what I emphasised last week. THE NEXT STEP is not about what you can do for God, but what God will do for you. This is not about extra responsibilities to burden you – but extra opportunities for God to bless you! THE NEXT STEP is not meant to be a challenge. It is an invitation!
GROWING BY MEETING TOGETHER
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. HEBREWS 10:19-25
1. ALL TOGETHER IN CHURCH
We grow through our Sunday worship by worshipping together and praying together and learning together.
Evening Services – WHY WE BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE
A series of Evening sermons through to November based on the Nicene Creed. We have already thought about what God is really like? Then we thought about just how God created the world. What does it mean, “in seven days”? What do Christians believe about creation and evolution? Last week Rebekah helped us think about the problem of unanswered prayer. If you missed them all those sermons are on the blog. Tonight we think about a tricky question – how could Jesus really be God and man at the same time? In two weeks – How does the Cross bring us salvation? Then, other important questions. Is the Holy Spirit really a Person? We believe in One church – one baptism. But Which church? Which baptism?
2. ALL TOGETHER IN HOME GROUPS
Our midweek Home Groups meet on Tuesday morning, Tuesday evening and Friday evening. At the moment we are studying Bible Characters – Nicodemus who came to see Jesus in secret, the apostle John the beloved disciple, three would-be disciples, the Rich Young Ruler, Elijah the worn out prophet, James and John sons of thunder, Doubting Thomas, Daniel, and other Bible Characters.
Home Groups also give opportunities to pray for each other and support each other, caring, sharing and bearing one another’s burdens. Home Groups aren’t meetings – but friendships. Growing Together.
3. ALL TOGETHER IN SPECIAL EVENTS
We have our regular prayer meetings after morning services on the second and other and fourth Sundays every month. But we also had our Saturday “Discovering Prayer” together back in June. Every month a number of churches get together for “Celebrate”, a Wednesday evening of worship, teaching and ministry. And we will have other special events in the months to come to help us grow together in our faith.
GROWING IN TWOS AND THREES
19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” MATTHEW 18:19-20
SPECIAL BLESSINGS of meeting together in 2s and 3s.
To me this is such an important way to grow as Christians that a few years ago I wrote a book, Making Disciples One-to-One. I will talk much more about this in three weeks time when I give you 12 Good Reasons for meeting together one to one. But today let me just whet your appetites by suggesting three different aspects of growing in twos and threes.
4. TWOS OR THREES – FOR NEW CHRISTIANS
An opportunity for New Christians to be encouraged by Spiritual Aunts and Uncles – meeting One-to-One in an 8 week course.
1. A new life has begun!
2. Being sure of our salvation
3. Getting to know God in Bible study and prayer
4. Belonging to God’s family, the church
5. Playing your part
6. Tug of war – the battle against temptation
7. Go and tell – the challenge of being Christ’s witnesses
8. The Holy Spirit – the Helper
It may be that you are new to the Christian faith and this course for New Christians would be right for you. It could be that you have been a Christian for a while and feel ready to help somebody else in their faith.
5. TWOS AND THREES – FOR ALL CHRISTIANS
Praying in Pairs and Triplets – Prayer partnerships, Prayer Triplets, Spiritual Friendships, What could we do? I will explain much more about this is a few weeks but you could begin to be praying now and asking God if there is another Christian you could meet with together regularly to help you both to grow.
6. TWOS AND THREES – FAN THE FLAME
For the mature and committed Christian, a course of personal study and prayer assisted by a Guide you have a conversation with every week or two. Fan the Flame looks at five themes:
1. Knowing God Better
2. Becoming like Jesus
3. Living in Christ’s Body
4. Becoming a Servant
5. Be filled with the Spirit
With its meetings with a Guide, Fan the Flame gives a first taste of the practice called Spiritual Direction. A number of you have already enjoyed Fan the Flame. You may like to pray about whether Fan the Flame would be the right NEXT STEP for you in Following Jesus.
GROWING AS INDIVIDUALS
9 we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. COLOSSIANS 1:9-12
7. INDIVIDUALS – PQR TIME
Between Prayer time and Reading time you get a Quiet Time
Bible study materials Daily Bread (SU) Every Day with Jesus (CWR)
8. INDIVIDUALS – WORKSHOPS AND COURSES
Events like Spring Harvest, Leading Edge. Taught Courses at Mulberry House or Pilgrims’s Hall, or organised by the Church of England at the Cathedral. Distance learning courses from London School of Theology or Spurgeon’s College.
9. INDIVIDUALS – INDIVIDUAL STUDY PLANS
Outline with key questions to consider, sermons to read and books and internet articles to look up. – Example on the Screen
HANDOUT containing a list of TITLES
Each Study Plan will be put together especially for you!
10. GROWING BY BEING EQUIPPED
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.
Equipped by the Pastor-Teacher
In his book, “Evangelism as a Lifestyle” Pete Gilbert sums up true Biblical Pastoral Care brilliantly!The task of pastor-teachers is “not wiping spiritual noses but building spiritual muscles”
Paul Goodliffe – Head of Ministry Department of Baptist Union writes – God gives Ministers to the church to equip God’s people for works of service.As far as pastoral care is concerned, the role of a minister should not be that of chaplain but of spiritual director, guiding people on their spiritual journey, identifying and releasing gifts and ministries and equipping people for service. So the important pastoral tasks are nurturing and sustaining faith, creating healthy relationships and building a caring Christian community, praying for people and with people and encouraging the struggling and wandering – not just healing wounded souls. The focus should not be so much on healing as on growth, not on fire-fighting but on discipling. Building spiritual muscles!
When you join a gym you are assigned a “personal trainer”. That person doesn’t do all the exercise for you – but they guide you on the path! God gives Ministers to the church to be “spiritual trainers” to guide us on our spiritual journeys. That is a task which I am very happy to make a priority. Being a “Spiritual trainer” “nurturing and sustaining faith, creating healthy relationships and building a caring Christian community, praying for people and with people and encouraging the struggling and wandering. Not just healing wounded souls,”, but helping with Christian growth and Growth and discipleship.
10 Ways God wants to bless you – SUMMARY
1. All together in CHURCH
2. All together in HOME GROUPS
3. All together in SPECIAL EVENTS
4. 2s and 3s for NEW CHRISTIANS
5. 2s and 3s for ALL CHRISTIANS
6. 2s and 3s in FAN THE FLAME
7. Individuals – PQR Time
8. Individuals – Workshops and Courses
9. INDIVIDUAL STUDY PLANS
10. Equipped by the Pastor-Teacher
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP FOR YOU?