One of the fun challenges in my current call at Trinity Lutheran Church, Nampa is that many people are at different stages in their life of faith. This is fun because it makes for a wide variety of rich conversations. It becomes a real challenge when choosing books, Bible Studies, or another curriculum. It does not matter if it’s an adult group or a gathering of kids. We have varying levels of biblical, worship, and faith practice literacy across every age group and we celebrate this.
Recently I read a book that recommended creating different pathways of discipleship for all of these different people. Wow! I thought. Great idea but where will I, or we, find the time to do that. The truth is that author John Roberto (in his book Lifelong Faith) helpfully named something that I have always known. He nudged me to be a bit more intentional in my listening, conversations, suggestions, and follow-up with individuals. He also gave me a bit of a corrective for my leadership.
Perhaps because of the strong influence of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries on my life, or my training, or just the way I am wired, despite being an introvert, I will always emphasize community when it comes to discipleship and the life of faith. If I am honest, this primarily comes from my own individual experience—I cannot follow Jesus faithfully on my own. I need companions and so I assume everyone else does too. I am grateful for the ways people, including myself, can pray, study, and even serve alone. But oh, how grateful I am to be gathering regularly with others.
All of this calls me back to the Sacrament of Baptism. On an old video series, Professor Winston Persaud explains that baptism is personal, but not private. (He is surely not the first one to make that statement, but I have watched that video so often during baptismal preparation with families that I attribute the sentiment to him). We could say the same thing about lifelong faith; it is personal but not private. That is, God sees each of us personally, and cares for us along life’s way. And yet, that life-long faith is nurtured alongside or within both a particular community of faith and the holy catholic church.
As we begin the programmatic church year, I will be pondering how to help each church member and friend personally grow in faith. Much of that growth will ultimately happen through mentors, gatherings, worship, and even remembering the communion of saints who have already died but can teach us still.
Let us pray...
Gracious God, thank you for seeing each of us and loving us as we are. Help us to grow in faith toward you and love toward one another. Thank you for all the communities who help sustain us. Amen.