Building Up the Body of Christ Together
How we approach our service makes all the difference. When we attend wholeheartedly to God, nothing is too mundane for our Heavenly Father. Next Generations Director Ethan shares more about the spiritual formation that comes from something as simple as volunteering.
What is a spiritual discipline? It is simply something that we do to put ourselves in an attentive posture to God. Some of the disciplines we encounter in the Bible are prayer, fasting, and meditation.
Even so, we usually think of spiritual discipline as something we do primarily in a solitary fashion, depriving ourselves of company, food, or noise in order to be attentive to God.
Or we even begin to feel that spiritual discipline is too lofty, a practice left to pious monks in medieval abbeys. Some experience robust lives of prayer and fasting, while others feel intimidated by the mystery, and yet others beat themselves up for not “doing enough” of it.
But there are more than the mysterious “inner” disciplines, as pastor and author Richard Foster calls them. There are also “corporate” disciplines; things we do together to attend to God as a church family. These are also familiar to us, whether or not we would think of them as “disciplines”–worship, serving each other, and hearing God’s Word together.
We are left again in the myriad of associations with these patterns of faith. Some approach corporate spirituality thirsty for direction, others for the accumulation of knowledge, and still others for assurance of their relative morality.
Don’t Be afraid or OverconfidentWe already practice spiritual discipline. The main question is, "What is our goal?" If our aims are not centered on Christ, we pollute the well from which we drink. It isn’t about making ourselves “better.” Nor is it about ignoring the “race”.
Whatever the spiritual discipline, we are not earning our Christlikeness, nor ignoring our need for transformation. The goal is to walk with the confidence and humility of grace into a lifestyle of attentiveness to God.
Spiritual Discipline is Realignment
We set our trajectory for Christ, the embodied character of God, and we follow in obedience. It is the distance from heart to hand that must be bridged. Transformation is both internal and external. We cannot change ourselves, nor will God force Himself on us. We learn the mutuality of attentiveness and response.
Simply put, a life of spiritual discipline is a life patterned, inside and out, by Christ. When we do this corporately, something beautiful happens. We draw together to be formed by God and we find ourselves growing closer.
Together we can learn to pray, fast, meditate, study, worship, and serve. Together we change and experience “being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). When we attend to God together, we become more and more like Christ.
How This Plays Out At theHeartCan something like setting up sound equipment with the Stage Crew on a Sunday morning be a spiritual discipline?
What role does Kids Ministry volunteering play in being attentive to God?
How is serving with the Welcome Team related to spiritual attentiveness?
"Maybe the monks didn’t run sound cables, fix jammed printers, or collect connection cards. But they attended to God in the patterns of their lives. We have the same opportunity before us." – Ethan
It comes down to posture. How we approach our service makes all the difference. When we attend wholeheartedly to Him, nothing is too mundane for God. Early Christian monks even saw basket-weaving as a way to attend to God.
What I mean is this: When we believe God is active in the image-of-God people we are serving with, talking to, and welcoming, we find ourselves attending to the here and now with holy expectancy.
You're Invited into An Exciting Partnership
The shared laugh, the smiling child, the confused visitor, the broken equipment, the saddened teammate all become occasions to see and participate in God’s reconciliatory work. We have to trust him; we get to represent him. That is what corporate disciplines do, invite us into the exciting partnership of ministry.
Maybe the monks didn’t run sound cables, fix jammed printers, or collect connection cards. But they attended to God in the patterns of their lives. We have the same opportunity before us. David played the harp, Paul made tents, each using the work of their hands to attend to God and bless those around them. Let me invite you into the same rhythm.
Look at the volunteer opportunities in front of you. Your church staff, ministry leaders, and team coordinators spend themselves on behalf of the kind of spiritual formation Paul speaks of: “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and coming mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13)
Is God inviting you to meet him in the early morning camaraderie of the Stage Crew, the exuberant interactivity of Kids Ministry, or the steady helpfulness of the Welcome Team? Whatever you do, do to it in attentiveness to God–you and I will be made more like Christ together.