In his book, Deep & Wide, pastor Andy Stanley describes his crazy pastoral journey over the past twenty years, and he shares many of his lessons learned in the areas of life, family, and ministry. Throughout his experiences, he’s found five common practices of Christians growing in their faith. I want to share these catalysts with you, and I want to challenge you to read them in light of your situation. First, is you’re a student reading this, ask yourself if you’re growing in each of these areas. Second, if you’re a parent reading this, ask yourself if you’re helping your child in these areas. Finally, if you’re a ministry leader of some kind, ask if your programming and scheduling reflect these priorities. The following are Andy Stanley’s 5 Catalysts to Spiritual Growth:
- Practical Teaching
- Private Disciplines
- Personal Ministry
- Providential Relationships
- Pivotal Circumstances
Within our Ignite High School Ministry, I can honestly say that we’re striving to reach students on all of these levels. I know that we can continue to grow in each area of ministry, because there’s never a point when we “arrive.” Life is much more about progress than perfection, because I believe no matter where you are in life, God is calling you to take your next step. Below is how we programmatically attempting to hit students in all five practices:
- Practical Teaching – On Tuesday nights, we teach personal lessons that are relevant to teenagers right now. For example, next Tuesday we launch a new series entitled, “Friending,” with the focus on how to develop godly relationships.
- Private Disciplines – On Sunday mornings, we focus on teaching our students to invest in the things that matter to God. We discuss how to read our Bibles, how to pray, and what separates Christianity from other religions. We try not to guilt anyone of not doing the things of God, but rather celebrating each step every students takes in their faith.
- Personal Ministry – Every month, we offer opportunities for students to serve others in the community. Last month, we helped our women’s ministry in their annual garage sale. This month we’ll be helping a refugee ministry downtown and serving dinner at a Hope Kids event. In April, we will help put on a carnival for kids fighting life threatening illnesses and their families (also a Hope Kids event).
- Providential Relationships – In HSM, we believe in the value of connection, community, and relationships. For this reason, we try to keep a high ratio of leaders to students (at least 1 to 5) to provide the best opportunity possible for students to feel connected with our ministry. Also, I’ve challenged each of our leaders to specifically mentor and reach out to 2-3 kids that they already have relationship with so they everyone can take that next step of faith.
- Pivotal Circumstances – Pivotal circumstances take on two forms within our ministry: planned and unplanned. First, we try to plan for ministry experiences to specifically get our students out of their comfort zones. We’re taking a mission trip to help in and around a indian reservation June 4-10, and we’re serving within an orphanage in Guadalajara, Mexico, June 18-25. We also offer both Winter and Summer Camps as ways for students to grow in in their relationship with God away from their natural home setting. Please let me know if you’re interested in serving with us on any of these trips. Second, we try to be ready to respond and support our students through the unplanned difficult circumstances in life… a parent divorce, the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, a sudden change of schools. Whatever happens to and through our students, we want our ministry to walk along side of them into their next phase of life.
What do you think? Can you think of other faith catalysts? Are you growing in these areas? Are you being intentional with your faith? Are you being intentional with your children? Are you being intentional with your ministry? The goal is not perfection, but progress. I think we can all grow when we obey God’s calling in our lives, and I pray that God is continuing to work in your family’s life. Where ever you are reading this, know that if you’re not dead, then God’s not done. He has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11), and your best days are still in front of you!
Make it an awesome week, and God bless!
High School Pastor
North Ridge Community Church