I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me how much they want to grow in their faith but just don’t know where to start. Or they feel like their Christian life is stagnant and they wonder if I could recommend a really good book that might get them jump started. First of all, the best book I’ve ever read on strengthening our faith as followers of Christ is the Bible. Secondly, I’m not sure reading another book or being at another Bible study or listening to another sermon is what genuinely moves our heart to love Christ more and live “out loud” for Him. Usually craving a good book or a really moving sermon is a symptom of a much deeper hunger – a desire to see a spiritual transaction happen with another person.
When I first gave my life to Christ at 12 years old, I thought being a Christian was about listening to Christian music (Keith Green baby!!), carrying Gospel tracts in my pocket, not cussing (at least not in front of anybody), having a new Bible with a cool leather cover on it, and going to as many youth events at church as I could make in a year. I loved it! I had new Christian gear and a mission to be the best follower Jesus had ever seen. That lasted about two months. A year after that I had slid back into old habits, was embarrassed to have my Bible out and mostly felt guilty every time I went to church. It was all about doing more stuff for God, and I was not living up to the standard I thought I was supposed to meet. Eventually something happened that changed all that.
A junior high youth pastor intern named Andy noticed me at church. He eventually began to talk to me and then invited me to do things with him to help prepare for youth events. He praised me in front of others for being such a good “assistant”. He was a model of a “cool” guy who loved to have fun and who loved Jesus passionately. Eventually he started meeting with me and a couple of other guys to study the Bible together, talk about our struggles, hang out at the Wendy’s across the street, and something new started to happen in my soul. His investment in me was like pouring water on the dry cracked ground of the desert. Only the ground was my heart. Everything about being a Christ follower changed for me in one summer because of Andy’s influence on my life.
God has given everyone a way to grow in their spiritual life. The best method is relationally. When we connect with another person for the purpose of sharing and bearing our soul with Christ at the center of the conversation, growth takes place. Often we think “I need to be fed” like more intake is going to solve the empty problem, when really we are already full as a tick from years of teaching, sermons, conferences, Bible Studies, etc. What we need is to pass along some of that good stuff to someone who is new in the faith or stuck in his or her growth as a believer.
So, the command has already been given by Jesus to do this – “Therefore, GO and make disciples…(Matt. 28:19)” . This is God’s plan for the expansion of His kingdom on earth. It is now our call as followers of Christ and believers in that plan.