7 things Christians can do in 2015… besides go to church.

ImitationkempisOf course Christians should be going to church, nevertheless, here are seven other things they could do…but likely do not do.

1. Practice a personal liturgy

Past Christians (Catholic and Protestant) regularly said prayers and read scripture daily. These were often written and memorized.  I use the world liturgy to imply something regular or repeated.  Mornings and bedtime are the perfect times. Far from being “vain and repetitious,” I found using the Book of Common Prayer a great tool to keep me disciplined. You may prefer Oswald Chambers, Ruth Bell Graham, or a good study Bible and a prayer journal, but begin your day and end your day with something that works for you.

2. Share your faith in the home

Dinner is another perfect time of the day to practice your Christian faith. You can share your faith with your family or other housemates or friends. We always say a dinner prayer and we often sing a hymn, share about our day, and pray for one another. We’ve also found “story-telling” fun. We read or paraphrase stories from Scripture and discuss them together. There are many tools available, but the best tools are those you create yourself.

3. Volunteer and give… and somewhere that is not Christian or church-related.

Serving others should kind of go without saying, unfortunately Christians are often quick to meet a need in the church, but slow to participate in other local opportunities. The list is long… libraries, helping with the handicap, school mentoring, or getting involved in the immigrant communities around you.  Consider not only give financially to your church (if you do); many organizations are not-for-profit and depend on your generosity.

4. Have an intentional weekly conversation with someone

A few years back, I started a weekly night-out with a non-Christian friend. We went to restaurants or had coffee or tea together in our homes. Over the course of five years he became a believer himself, but he first became a dear friend.  I may have learned more about my faith from him than anyone else in my spiritual journey.

5. Take a spiritual retreat

Find a quite place away from your regular scenery and enjoy some time alone. Spend at least 4-6 hours. You can walk, read, pray, and think. I guarantee you will not regret it… especially if you learn to do it periodically.

6. Learn about a church tradition other than your own.

The Christian family and our common confession in Christ is very large. Born and raised Baptist, I’m fond of saying, “I’m Baptist, but I’m not just Baptist.” I’ve worked alongside Pentecostals, studied in a Brethren seminary, and volunteered in local Lutheran and Anglican churches. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything and I have a much healthier and holistic faith because of it.

7. Read a challenging Christian book

Some of you like to read, but frankly we set the bar way too low. Again, read outside your own tradition or pet subject. Maybe it is time to set down that Max Lucado or Stormie Omartian book and find something more challenging. Ask around, do some research, find out who C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and Deitrich Bonheoffer were. Better yet, delve further into church history and read something by Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God), St. John of the Cross (Dark Night of the Soul), or Thomas à Kempis (The Imitation of Christ). If you are like me you might prefer a light textbook or something published by Intervarsity Press, something that teaches about these authors and themes but in a more readable and sometimes illustrated format.

This probably sounds like CrossFit for your soul!  And yes, I’m an ordained minister writing this now. On the other hand, think of the price other Christians have paid for their faith and still pay today all around the world. Could you could focus on one of these suggestions for one month at a time?

Sure, you should go to church, but what would the church look like if when we did go to church, it were filled with folks practicing these disciplines faithfully?

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