A new year spurs many of us toward resolutions regarding our spiritual growth. So here’s a few ideas to help you strike while the iron is hot.
- Consider your attendance. If church or small group has become irregular in recent months the best thing you can do is ink it in your diary and resolve to be there more regularly this year.
- Consider your personal Bible reading and prayer. Try a Bible reading plan – there’s loads on line that you can download as an app on your phone or print off paper copies to tuck into the back of your Bible. I like the ‘Bible in One Year’ plan which you can get from your app store for free. Also give PrayerMate a go – another great app which helps you organise your prayers into people/groups/topics.
- Consider your outreach. Has this become a bit luke-warm of late. Do you need to invest in some existing friendships. Is there a hobby or group your could start to make some new friendships. Is there someone who you are praying for. Is there a pain-line to cross with someone. Make that invite, have that conversation. Get back in the game.
- Consider your character. Is there something in your life which you need to deal with. Perhaps this is the time to talk to someone. Maybe start a little prayer triplet – people with whom you can be accountable in sharing with and praying for one another. Send a text or email to a close friend – do it now!
- Consider your wider church family. If your church produces an annual address book and/or weekly notice sheet then why not use those to fuel your prayers.
- Consider hospitality – do you regularly extend yourself to others? This is something for all of us, not just some of us (see 1 Pet 4:9). Maybe it’s Sunday lunch, or a coffee, or just a MacD’s after work. How can you bless others. Remember it is more blessed to give than to receive – that implies that you will be blessed, and you will grow as you seek to bless others.
- Consider your service – this is a key way for us to grow. Are you a consumer or spectator at your church, or are you serving others sacrificially. Our spiritual growth isn’t just about reading books or having quiet times. We grow as we serve. So perhaps there’s a new opportunity or team you could step into. Pick up a towel, wash some feet, and see how God uses you and develops you.
- Consider your worship. Regular attendance at church or small groups is part of that. But also try reading a devotional book – Tim Keller’s Psalms devo book is great. Use some older works as devotionals or prayer prompts – some of my favourites include Valley of Vision, Newton’s Letters, Imitation of Christ (Thomas a Kempis). Or how about some new Christian music – no shortage of options here. For some of us (prob most of us) music lifts our souls in ways that other suggestions here won’t.
- Consider your reading. Get to 10ofthose or the GoodBook website and splash some cash. Get some of the old classics on your Kindle (many are free). Maybe you could start a reading group – make a list of 6-8 great books and read together. Maybe meet for Sunday lunch once every other month to talk about what you’ve read.
- Consider your digital world. Do a little social media review – how much time are you using it and how are you using it. Anything to action? Try a blog feed – Feedly is my app of choice – enables me to follow a number of helpful resources which feed mind and soul. Subscribe to a podcast – there’s loads of good preaching podcasts which you could use on your commute – again shout out to Keller’s Redeemer podcast.
- Consider your giving. Jesus talked about money quite a lot. A new year is a good time to do a financial review and think about whether you’re being sacrificial and generous not just with your time and talent, but with your money.
- Make a plan. Take a few of the things above the most strike you and plan to do something. Good intentions won’t be enough. We need to put some things in the diary and put a plan into action. So think about it, pray about it, plan it, and do it. And grow in grace in 2017.