Ephesians 4:15 is a verse that we hope increasingly describes the spirit and relational culture of our church: "Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ..."
This one verse captures the goal of our ministry (growing up to reflect Christ in every way) and the means by which that goal is attained (speaking the truth of God's Word to each other in the context of loving relationships). This vision for the church's day-in, day-out ministry motivates us to position ourselves in loving relationships with one another, where we seek to do spiritual good to one another.
How do we get started positioning ourselves like this? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Join a church. The sort of relational environment we aspire to is one that thrives on transparency, vulnerability and accountability, along with a shared, agreed-upon commitment to take an interest in one another's spiritual lives. Church membership is what we call that commitment (click here for more information on our membership process).
2. Arrive early at church gatherings and stay late. Take the initiative to ask specific, spiritually meaningful questions (What have you been reading in God's Word recently? What challenges are you facing in your Christian walk? How can I be praying for you? What is a source of joy you're experiencing currently?)
3. Practice hospitality with members of your church.
4. Ask God for strategic friendships.
5. When possible, attend the church's monthly luncheons, as a way of getting to know people and cultivating meaningful friendships.
6. If possible, include a line-item in your family or personal budget for weekly time with fellow Christians. Discuss this matter with your spouse. If possible, provide such a budget line for your spouse as well.
7. Schedule regular breakfasts, lunches, or some other culturally-acceptable social engagement with teachable individuals (of the same sex). Depending on the person, you may decide to meet once, indefinitely, or for a set number of times (say, five).
8. If you and the individual share a pastime or hobby, look for ways to share that pastime or hobby together, making use of that time to also check in with each other about your spiritual well-being.
9. Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their parents, spouse, children, testimony, job, walk with Christ, and so on. In asking questions, however, do so in a manner that’s appropriate for your cultural context (don’t scare them!).
10. Share about yourself.
11. Look for ways to have spiritual conversations. Maybe decide to read the Bible or some other Christian literature together. (See David Helm's short book, One to One Bible Reading, for some excellent tips on getting started in this practice.)
12. Consider their physical or material needs. Would they benefit from your help?
13. Pray with them.
14. Depending on your home situation, invite the person to drop by your house or spend time with your family. Let them watch you live life.
15. Look for ways to pray for the person throughout the week by yourself and/or with your spouse.
(Adapted from 9Marks Journal: Discipling in the Church)