We have had a wonderful start to our year of prayer. Sanctuary established, plus excitement about our prayer walk challenge and many people enjoying the prayer course, we are growing as a house of prayer.
The next key step is to deepen the connections we’re making in our connection hubs and as well as enjoying the large gatherings, start building closer friendships with a few: friendships of mutual support and challenge which can be so life giving and crucial to our growth to become who God created us to be.
So through Lent (the 6 weeks running up to Easter) we are going to be teaching on ‘Walking the ways of Jesus’ – a 6 part series on Spiritual disciplines. 6 practices and habits which we can embrace, which will enable us to grow in maturity as followers of Jesus. At the NewWine summer conference in 2017, John Mark Comer, an extraordinary young communicator from Portland, Oregon taught through the week on ‘what does it actually take to change a person?’. In a world of quick fixes and expecting others to solve our problems for us, he taught powerfully on how simple, but challenging choices of discipline over a period of time, are what actually makes a difference.
I really believe in spiritual disciplines. They are core to so much of what is good in my life and when they’re missing, I notice the rot sets in. I’ve noticed over time that those who walk with Jesus in a way of consistently growing in love, with generosity and secure in their faith, also have spiritual disciplines in their lives which generate all of that. I believe as we share and talk together, encourage and challenge one another to try stuff out, as we’re willing to be accountable to others, we will discover the benefits of putting into practice habits that are simple, but life changing.
One key to this, is mutual support, learning together is far more fruitful and fun than trying to be lone ranger heroes.
How will this work?
Many of our church family are already in accountable friendships, with a regular pattern of meeting. Friendships where it’s normal rather than awkward to talk about our relationship with God and where the trust is established to make us safe to be vulnerable. If you have those in place, then use ‘walking the way of Jesus’, as a resource for those. If you aren’t regularly meeting others in that way, then the connection hubs are designed to help you find others to start building such friendships with. The key is that you take the initiative and have a go asking others you know if they’re up for working through these 6 sessions together. You can get into groups of 2, 3, 4 or more, find some others willing to walk with you and find a mutually convenient time to meet. (I believe our staff team and connection hub leaders are brilliant, gifted people, but they don’t know you as well as you know yourself, so we’re not taking on placing people, it’s over to you!)
Each week through lent, to accompany the Sunday sermon on one spiritual discipline, we will produce a simple resource to give some more teaching and full of questions for you to discuss with your group. There will also be some suggestions of ‘weekly challenges’, little steps we might take to put what you’ve discussed into practice.
These resources will be sent out through the church email list each week. There will be paper copies available in church and also connection hub leaders will have copies, and we’ll make them accessible through Facebook. We’re hoping to produce 1/week, but we appreciate people’s lives have other commitments, so you don’t have to complete them all by Easter, we want to empower not restrict.
The topics will be:
*NB It’s Blended on 11th March, so 11am will have a different sermon