Recently, I posted a blog about leaving churches. People leave churches for a host of reasons, but one of the saddest is when folks feel their spiritual vitality fail and fade into distress or nothingness. This happens for a lot of reasons – some legitimate and some illegitimate. I don’t want to go into all that, rather I want to put forth some helpful suggestions of how to remain and gain spiritual vitality (if that’s even a good way to say it) when and if your local church experience leaves you lacking.
1. Don’t Expect the Church to Prop You Up Spiritually. There’s a lot to be said here on many different fronts, but suffice it to say this, “No thing or place can give you what only God can.”
2. Deeply Engage Spiritual Disciplines. If you’re a reader, a book like Marjorie Thompson’s “Soul Feast” is a good place to start to shape spiritual disciplines in your life. In the disciplines we find real spiritual life, rather than the pre-packed notions, assumptions, assertions, interests and agendas of pastors and church leadership structures. Plus, spiritual disciplines always lead back to Scripture.
3. Develop a Rule of Life. Thompson explains this well, but people need an explicit Rule to shape there lives. Hardly anything good happens by accident! If you want spiritual vitality you have to put forth intentional effort.
4. Find 2 or 3 People to Covenant With. Folks have done this through prayer groups, accountability groups and very small study groups. Each of us needs a place and people who will walk with us. This means we have to be fully open to others, sharing our lives and our very selves with them.
5. Find Great Podcasts. This is HUGE for me. There are some pastors and teachers whom God uses to speak to me, so I subscribe to their sermon podcasts. Plus, it’s a good use of traffic-sitting time.
6. Re-imagine Church. Can church be in your home with good friends and seekers? In coffee-shops? Online? If your imagination dictates that church is some place that offers some things, you will likely be frustrated at different points.
7. Read Philip Yancey’s Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church. I hate to suggest books, but this book changed my imagination concerning spiritual life, church and my own holy discontent with church. Here you will be amazed by people who challenged, loved and hated the church all while being the church in the world.
8. Teach Your Children the Great Stories of Scripture. These stories still speak and reveal God in ways that are profound. Plus, you will hear your children bring forth profound truths about Scripture that never occurred to you. These stories are designed to be lived into, not merely to entertain children. You and your kids will be blessed and changed.
9. Bless Your Pastors. Seriously, I mean it. And I’m not angling for free meals or gifts. But most church members don’t know their pastors (A lot of this is the pastors fault. Many of them are disconnected from the church on purpose). People don’t know their pastor’s hearts and what makes them tick on a personal level. If church members asked their pastors about their rearing, their spiritual journey and what God is doing in them, then sermons and classes would make much more sense. Plus, one of the great ways to deepen your spirituality is to be witness to it in another person.
10. Read The Palmer Perspective. I just thought I’d throw this in. Plus, since you’re already doing it, I wanted you to be able to check 1 of 10 off your list.