Here are what I believe are the most important disciplines for a follower of Jesus living in the USA. I list them in the order of importance. Some of you will not like this and not agree. That’s ok. I want to challenge you to think about WHY I list them in this order.
Why is this number 1? I think so many followers of Jesus miss out on the impact of serving people around them in practical ways to demonstrate the love of Jesus. Jeremiah 29:4-7 says to seek the peace and prosperity of a city and if the city prospers we will prosper as well. One of the greatest ways to make an impression on the people and the world around you is to simply serve people in the name of Jesus. The spiritual discipline of “service” is under-utilized in making Jesus known to people. Serve in your church and in your community. In John 13:3-5 Jesus demonstrates service as he washes the feet of the disciples. Question: How do we wash the feet of people around us in the 21st century?
In America, we have more money than we know what to do with. (And yet we are still in debt.) We live self-indulgent lives and money has a stronghold on our hearts through greed. Jesus told us that we cannot serve God and money at the same time (Matthew 6:24) The way we break the stronghold of greed and money is to give generously! There is nothing like the discipline of generosity to change our hearts.
Most believers don’t know how to start a conversation that leads to sharing the hope that is found in Jesus. We must cultivate the discipline of sharing our faith. Regardless of your personality you are accountable for making Jesus known to people in your circle of influence. You can learn how to get into conversations and actually share your faith. You can click here to see how I equipped our church to share their faith. I believe if you practice the disciplines of SERVE and GENEROSITY, this discipline will come more naturally.
Read God’s Word
Some will ask, “Why in the world is this discipline number 4 on the list of most important spiritual disciplines for a believer in America?” Simply because most Christians that are involved in spiritual growth are “over-read and under-applied”. We have no shortage of Bible studies available to us but most followers of Jesus are not actively applying the Word of God to their daily life. Some of us need one less Bible Study in our life and need to get out in the community and serve and practice generosity. Here’s the deal: If you are serving and giving generously of your resources and sharing your faith, you will want to read your Bible even more. God’s Word, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us and we should read it daily, don’t get me wrong. These disciplines are specifically applied to believers living in America. READ IT THEN DO WHAT IT SAYS! If you do what it says, you will want to read it MORE!
Talk to God
We should communicate with God through the amazing gift of prayer. This is an underutilized discipline with most followers of Jesus. Prayer is learning to depend on God. This discipline is so often a formality and ritual in the life of the American Christian because we don’t lack for anything. We don’t HAVE to depend on God because all of our needs are met in our culture. Real, life-transforming prayer is depending on God for what we don’t have. Pray without ceasing! Don’t just stand there, pray something!
Connect with other believers in a local Church
Go to church! Join with other believers for the purpose of glorying God and joining Jesus in His mission of redemption. God has sovereignly chosen to involve us in His mission of redemption. We get to take the gospel of Jesus to people that are far from God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 says that we are His ambassadors. Go to church! Hear the Word! Celebrate Jesus with others! Put into action what you hear! Do it every week! Don’t forsake it! Hebrews 10:25
Circle Up with a Few other Believers
Circles are better than rows! Invest your life with a small group of believers that can put into practice together these other disciplines. You can read the Word and study together, serve together, give together, pray together, love one another! You can’t grow spiritually as God intends by sitting in rows every week simply staring at the backs of people’s heads! Get into a small group and get to know others on a deeper level and discover what it is like to live on mission with God with a small group of other followers.
These are the disciplines I believe that followers of Jesus must put into practice to grow spiritually and join God in His mission of getting the gospel OUT into the world we live in. Some may not like or agree with the order of importance I put them in and that is ok. Let’s don’t argue but simply apply these disciplines in our lives and the lives of those we are responsible for ministering to on a daily and weekly basis!