Preparing for Amazement focuses on the health of people and congregations. To aid you in thinking through such health, I want to take a moment and consider what it means for congregations to ask another question focused on spiritual health:
Do we practice spiritual disciplines on a regular basis?
Before getting into how groups within your congregation can answer this question, we must first know what spiritual disciplines are. Historically, the church has recognized five major disciplines. These five disciplines help focus us upon our God and full satisfaction with God:
- Reading Scripture
With these disciples in mind, I want to give a few examples of what it might look like for boards, committees, staff, and other groups of people within a congregation to practice them.
Prayer – Obviously, groups can practice this discipline by simply praying before or after meetings. However, for deeper spiritual health, consider praying for each other, for those the group serves, for the wider community, and for the world. Consider breaking for silence to listen to God in the midst of a meeting as you refocus or argue. Above all, avoid making the prayer a line item to be checked off on the agenda. Dedicate yourselves to deeper prayer.
Reading Scripture – Too often, we live segmented lives. We think meeting time is for meetings and Bible time is for Bible studies. Consider spending your meeting just discussing the Scriptures. Have a Bible study prepared that you can do together. When not possible, read a Scripture that has meant something to you this week and share why. Dedicate time in every meeting to spending time in the sacred story of our God.
Meditation – Silence is uncomfortable. Many of us do not know “what to do” in meditation for this reason. So, consider guiding the meditation with a thought to contemplate. Give everyone a quote, Bible verse, or even word to meditate on. Encourage people to leave the confines of the room to meditate in their own way. If you have the skills and/or resources, provide music for people to meditate with or upon. Set a clear timeframe and ask for reflection, if desired.
Worship – Of course, most congregational groups worship together on Sunday. Yet did you know you could worship at a meeting? Consider singing a hymn, reflecting on the sermon, or even taking communion together. Worship need not be contained to these more formal activities. Ask people how they best worship God and try it as a group. Maybe it’s going for a walk or eating a good meal.
Frugality – Out of all the disciplines, this one may seem the most bizarre. But throughout the history of the church, Christians have worked towards needing and wanting less. Consider deciding upon something you want to depend less on (forever) as a group or individually and keep one another accountable and celebrate the victories! Maybe someone wants to eat out less and they usually do so before or after the meeting. Encourage and support them in that goal. Maybe you always share a meal together before the meeting and you notice too much trash. Commit to less waste by recycling or buying compostable supplies.
These are just some ways you can commit to spiritual disciplines together. As you seek to not only accomplish God’s purposes for your congregation but also a healthy community dedicated to one another as you do, these disciplines will aid you more than you can imagine. This is especially true if you think you do not have enough time to handle all the business of your group. Practice these and I promise you will grow closer, healthier, and more effective together.
Nate Whittaker, Coach