I'm sort of a traditionalist in many respects. I don't like the Designated Hitter. I prefer acoustic instruments. We open our presents on Christmas morning. And summer is three months long -- not the 10 weeks schools are out. So, I'm reluctant to say summer is over. But I will admit that the whole "back to school" thing means the end of summer vacation. And that means families everywhere are struggling to adapt to the routine required for early morning drop offs and mid-afternoon pick ups.
As a church leader, I'm grateful for summertime and the chance to relax a little (obviously, I'm not in student ministry!). As a church leader, though, I'm also glad to see the approach of fall and the excitement a new school year brings. September and October mean a little more stability in our attendance and giving -- meaning we can budget wisely and appropriately. It also means a time when we can dig in a little deeper than we could over the past couple of months, pausing a little to examine where we are spiritually and how we can get to that next level.
That's why I'm so excited about the sermon series we're kicking off this Sunday. It's called "Miracle Grow", and it discusses how our faith grows.
Right from the start, I want to make something clear: This isn't about how our knowledge grows or how our obedience grows. As important as knowledge and obedience are, it's a really big faith that we're after. It's a really big faith that pleases God. It's a really big faith that impresses Jesus. It's a really big faith that gets us through tough times. It's a really big faith that keeps us from pushing the panic button. When the Apostle Paul wanted to brag about one of his favorite churches, it was their faith that he bragged about (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).
But how does our faith grow like that?
Most churches assume that faith increases with knowledge, so they schedule Bible classes as their primary way of growing a person's faith. But knowledge doesn't always lead to faith. In fact, the Bible says knowledge can make you arrogant sometimes. That's the opposite of what we're after.
Other churches seem to think that faith comes through obedience. Just do what God asks, and your faith will grow. But obedience like that can sometimes make a person judgmental -- which, again, is not the direction we want to go.
So, how does your faith grow? How can a church help transform your faith from something the size of a mustard seed into a tree where birds can come and perch in its branches?
Maybe we could begin by asking what faith is exactly? Maybe once we understand what faith is we can better understand how it grows?