PReparing for Mission Practicing the Faith Transforming Mission

One of the characteristics of God’s mission is practicing your faith. Practicing your faith comes in two ways. First, to practice means to perform an activity or exercise a skill repeatedly in order to improve or maintain your proficiency. In other words, you rehearse or practice. 

Second, practice means to put into action or to implement what you have learned and experienced. It is the actual doing or application of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to talking about it. In other words, you apply or practice what you have rehearsed. 

Nurture and Equipped to Live Out Your Faith 

As a Christ-centered leader, you have the opportunity to nurture people in their faith as well as equip them to live out their faith in everyday situations and circumstances. You have the opportunity to assist them in rehearsing their faith as well as applying their faith in everyday situations with every person they encounter.    

So, as you invite people into the movement of God’s grace and equip them for the mission of God’s love, you provide opportunities for them to practice by learning and growing in their faith. It might be you’re helping people practice their faith through the means of grace, a small group, or a Sunday School class. Whether it be serving meals, caring for those who are homeless, or teaching children to read, assist people by incorporating scripture, prayer, and reflection as ways of practicing their faith. Whether it be a finance meeting, trustee meeting, choir rehearsal, a women’s or men’s meeting, youth fellowship, or nursery school board, offers people opportunities to talk about faith experiences as ways of practicing their faith. 

The point is, as a Christ-centered leader, you nurture and equip people by providing opportunities to rehearse their faith and apply what they have rehearsed.    

People experience God’s love and learn to share God’s love through practice. Jesus gives clear direction in Matthew’s good news. He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

When you are preparing for mission, practice makes perfect.

Let’s explore several examples of practicing faith from the early church in The Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:42. (It would be helpful to read Christ-Centered Leaders Develop Community and Christ-Centered Leaders Develop Community – Part 2

Read Acts 2:42-47 

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.  

Reflect

The first followers of Jesus practiced by devoting “themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship…” Part of the practice of the first followers was to gather in community. Practicing community was important. 

It is mentioned three times: They devoted themselves to “fellowship” (verse 42), “All who believed were together” (verse 44), and “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple…” (verse 46). Being together was an important characteristic of their faith development. They practiced their faith in relationship with other Jesus followers. 

Practicing Community

Practicing community was seen in the relationships they made and deepened as they gathered to listen and learn of the gospel (apostles’ teaching). They practiced community when they ate together, (breaking of bread). 

They practiced God’s love, agape, by working for the good of others, especially with those who had little to eat. They practiced relationships by praying together and by gathering with glad and generous hearts in gratitude to God. They practiced by seeking direction on how to live their lives as followers of Jesus. 

Studying the Scripture

They practiced by studying the scripture together. “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching…” Wesley called this “searching the scriptures.” 

One of the distinctive marks of Jesus followers was they sought to understand how to live their lives in relationship with one another.  Just as the apostles’ teaching was transformational in the lives of the early followers of Jesus, practicing living the good news of Jesus Christ is transformational both personally and socially.  

Practicing Fellowship

They practiced fellowship together. “They devoted themselves to…fellowship.”  When they gathered, they practiced loving one another. Their time together was formational as they grew together in their personal faith and learned to have compassion and encouragement in their social interactions.  

They practiced accountability. “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple.” Those early Jesus followers spent time together sharing stories, asking questions, learning, and growing together. It was in their conversations (Christian conferencing) they practiced accountability. 

For a more in-depth exploration of accountability can be found in the blog Christ-Centered Leaders Develop Community 

Practice Sharing Your Faith

Their practice inward led to their practice beyond themselves. As they practiced their faith together, they were led to practice their faith outside their group. They discovered new ways to love others the way God Jesus had loved them. They practiced their faith by sharing what they had with others. Whether it was their food, clothing, shelter, money, or other possessions, they practiced generosity by offering themselves to one another in love. 

Their practice helped them become more who God had created them to be. How are you practicing your faith? Who you are is how you lead. 

Respond

How will you practice your faith today? Be aware of the people God sends your way today. How will you participate in community? How will you develop relationships with people who are not part of your inner circle? In what new way will you love others the way God in Christ has loved you? 

How will you practice your faith by reading and studying the scripture, by praying, by entering conversations about faith and how to grow in love? 

How will you practice your faith by feeding people who are hungry or finding shelter for those who are homeless? How will you provide care for children or find jobs for those unemployed? 

Practicing your faith helps to turn your inner faith into an outward expression of love and care. How will you practice your faith today? 

Prayer

O God, make me aware of the people around me today. By your grace, help me be an extension of your love in the lives of the people you send my way. Help me yield a little more of myself so that I may love others as you have loved me in Jesus. Help me be faithful to your call upon my life so that I may be a blessing to someone, somewhere, today. Amen 

Return

As you reflect back upon your day, give thanks for God’s call to follow Jesus. In what ways did you practice your faith? With whom did you share God’s love? How did you invite people into God’s movement of grace and mission of love? How did you practice hospitality? How did you practice offering Christ to the people around you? With whom do you need to celebrate the love you experienced in and through them? What will you do differently tomorrow?

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *