I just want to preface this entire post by saying it is inspired by a blog that I read from Steven Furtick yesterday. Furtick is a really young pastor of a large church in the Charlotte area called Elevation Church that is really doing some amazing things in that community (you can check them out a little bit more here).
But yesterday I happened to stumble upon this post (whose main point and concept I will shamelessly steal haha)that really got me thinking about Cultivate and what we do here at Suncrest, and I think it’s worth re-stating on here: The greatest force in cultivating your personal relationship with Jesus is not Suncrest, not Greg, not Bobby, not myself, not a program, and not an experience. The greatest force in cultivating your personal relationship with Jesus is you.
As your pastor and as a church leader, I definitely think that it is my responsibility to create experiences and environments at our church that help you to grow in your relationship with God. That ranges in everything from Sunday morning’s message, musical worship time, our community groups, our service opportunities… everything. Now, this isn’t to say that I am the main person responsible for any of these things I just mentioned (or countless others that I didn’t mention here). It’s just to say that I know one of my main responsibilities as a Suncrest staff member is to make sure that I am helping to create environments where people can be drawn closer to the person of Jesus. I think I speak for each one of our staff members when I say that.
But as people, we have this dangerous tendency to want to do something in one stop. And when we can, that makes sense. It’s really nice that instead of going to a million different places to buy groceries, clothes, home decor, and all that good stuff that I can go to a place like Target or WalMart instead of having to stop several different places.
But your spiritual life does not work like that. And in fact, very few things actually do.
Think of the whole process of exercising. Chances are that most of you reading this have, at some point or another, made the covenant with yourself to exercise more and live a healthier lifestyle. But before you know it, one thing gets in the way. And then another. And before you know it, a month has went by since the last time you stepped into the gym.
And so, in a last-stitch effort, we do the big “mega-workout.” You go to the gym and use literally every single machine in the place in some effort to beat your body into shape and make up for all your missed workouts. And while you might leave feeling satisfied that you did something good that day, in the end, all you are is sore. And then you don’t go for another week. And then a month. And before you know it, all hopes of you going to the gym have been squashed.
As with most important things in life like exercise, spending time with our family and loved ones, and also in our spiritual life, we can’t just get it all in one stop. It takes more than that. But we do the same thing with church. We exercise an opportunity to grow in our faith once every seven days. But then we eventually look up and wonder why we are so out of shape spiritually.
And the answer is simple: We haven’t taken the necessary time in our day-to-day lives to get into shape spiritually.
If I could say one thing, it is simply this: Sunday isn’t enough. Even with all the effort and energy our staff, leaders, and volunteers put into our Sunday morning experiences each week, it will never be enough to provide you with sustainable spiritual growth. Yes, it is a good first step toward spiritual growth. But if you are growing as a Christ follower, there should be a point where you realize that we need something more. And that’s okay. It’s not a sign that something is wrong with our church… it’s a sign that I am growing and maturing in my personal relationship with Jesus.
So what is that something more? I don’t know. Only you can answer that question. But let me offer a few suggestions:
- You need to start formulating a daily spiritual routine or increasing the one you have. For some of you, this is a huge next step. But maybe it’s time to go to a place like YouVersion or Bible Gateway and pick out one of their Bible reading plans to go through on your own. Maybe you could check out a site like Examen and start using that as a daily devotional time for reading, reflection, and prayer. It doesn’t have to be a ton of time – only 10-15 minutes to start is totally fine. But I think you’ll discover that done over time, forming your own daily spiritual routine of Bible reading, prayer, and worship are an excellent way to continue growing in your faith.
- You need to join a community group. Jared and Bobbie have done a great job coordinating with lots of leaders and other people on forming some great community groups at each of our campuses that will offer an environment where you can begin to have some spiritual conversations and encouragement along your journey as a Christ follower. Maybe you should think about joining and starting to enter into some deeper conversations with a few of the other people around Suncrest.
- You need to start serving somewhere. This will challenge you and push you to grow in your relationship with Jesus as well. Serving in a ministry area offers an opportunity to connect with some other people from around our church for sure, but beyond that, it also offers a chance to make a difference in our church and community.