Before reading this post on 4 ways to grow your faith outside of Sunday morning, you should stop and take a look a the preceding post. I recently wrote another guest blog post here about why pastors should not do all the ministry that motivated this post. Our expectations of our pastors are directly linked to our expectations of ourselves.
We can’t expect pastors to do all the ministry or be our sole spiritual providers. Pastors often get a very small window of time with people on weekly basis. If we can’t depend on our pastors to “feed us” throughout the week, then what are we supposed to do?
As believers, we have access to Scripture and many other tools that we can go to in order to grow in our faith during the week. We don’ t rely on a sermon as our only source of spiritual sustenance. You will find many more than 4 ways to grow your faith outside of Sunday morning, but I think these four can give you a few quick “small wins” to get you on the right track.
4 Ways to Grow Your Faith Outside of Sunday Morning
1. Pray in ways involving the senses.
Having a consistent prayer life with God can be difficult in our busy modern lives. I certainly fall short in this area all the time. I wish I was more consistent with these ways to grow your faith outside of Sunday morning.
For that reason, I suggest finding a means of prayer that involves more than one of the five senses can help you focus on what you’re doing rather than getting distracted by your phone, Netflix, etc. This could mean prayer journaling, or taking a prayer walk, or something else entirely. Try things out until you find what works for you.
2. Listen to podcasts/recorded sermons.
We have the greatest access to spiritual resources of any people in history thanks to the Internet. This means that you aren’t limited to only hearing the teachings of your church’s pastor(s) – you can learn from pastors across the globe anywhere, anytime. Listen to a podcast or a sermon while commuting, walking the dog, working out – your options are limited only by your phone’s battery life.
Note that this shouldn’t take the place of your involvement in a local community of believers, but it can be a great supplement. *A caveat for this suggestion and the next: be sure that what you’re listening to/reading is biblical and that you’re not exposing yourself to false or misleading teachings. One thing your pastor probably can do is point you in the direction of resources that will be theologically correct.
3. Read books in addition to the Bible.
Of course, Scripture is a fantastic resource for Christians and shouldn’t be neglected. But there are a lot of issues that aren’t explicitly mentioned in Scripture, and there are plenty of other topics like apologetics, church history, etc. that aren’t covered in the Bible either. This is where reading other books comes in.
A few of my favorites include:
– Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear
– The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller (here’s a list of great Tim Keller quotes)
– Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
4. Have intentional conversations with others about faith and spirituality.
Depending upon the kinds of people you have in your life, this may be awkward at first, but it can be immensely rewarding. One way to do this is to join a small group. If a small group isn’t your thing, cultivate those friendships in your life where these conversations can occur organically (without feeling forced).
I would encourage you in particular to find at least one person to have spiritual conversations with who isn’t a Christian. In my life, I have often grown the most through those conversations that call my beliefs into questions because I have to get to the heart of why I believe what I do. Sometimes as Christians, we can get trapped in the cycle of using canned “Christianese” phrases when life gets hard – “God won’t give you any more than you can handle,” “Everything happens for a reason,” etc. These platitudes are often neither helpful nor biblical.
While there is nothing wrong with reassuring a fellow believer using the promises of God that are actually found in Scripture, I believe it is important for every Christian to be able to answer earnestly the question “When life gets hard, why do you still believe God is good?”
Your pastor is a great resource. Your pastor should start the conversation, not end it. Our pastors are here to shepherd us in our faith journeys and point us toward Jesus, but each of us must take responsibility for our own spiritual growth and development (like using these 4 ways to grow your faith outside of Sunday morning). It will not always be easy, but grappling with the deep issues of faith oneself is the path to true intimacy with Christ.
Hayley Crowell Curry makes her home in Winston-Salem, NC, where she lives with her husband, a recovering youth minister who is transitioning to the corporate sector. Hayley works as a TV and Internet marketing consultant for a local TV station, but has volunteered at the churches she has attended pretty much all her life, including stints in the worship band, youth ministry, and the “first impressions” team, which welcomes visitors. She loves ice cream, a capella music, reading as often as possible, and cheering on her beloved Tar Heels.