We don’t make it easy for new Christians to become engaged with their faith journey because we throw some pretty confusing concepts and ideas at them. Two of my favorites that are really not intuitive for most people are the idea of the Holy Spirit or simply The Spirit and the concept of “growing in your faith.” Our evangelical reflex is to simplify the equation by simply telling new Christians to “follow Jesus” which is not any more helpful. The real trick is to show them how to engage with the Spirit for the strength to follow Jesus that will facilitate our faith growth. Easy, right? No, most lifelong Christians struggle to understand how to live a Christian life, so how can we expect a person new to Christianity understand it any better.
A metaphor to help us understand these concepts and ideas a little better is to borrow from Madison Avenue one of its most iconic spokespersons – the Energizer Bunny. The Energizer Bunny is powered by Energizer batteries that reputedly are longer lasting than the average battery. So, the Energizer Bunny continues moving in the direction that it is pointed until its batteries run out of power. It keeps going and going and going… remember.
A new Christian, or any of us for that matter, is the Energizer Bunny and we set them in motion to follow Jesus by instructing them in worshiping, reading the Bible, serving others, loving our neighbors, etc. Our batteries are powered by the Spirit which can actually keep our bunny moving forever, but our batteries run out because of our human incapacity to sustain anything for a long period of time. So, we are “growing in faith” by doing these activities that help us to follow Jesus, propelled by the power of the Spirit. Again, this is easy, right, because if we are doing all these things then we should be good forever.
Well, the problem with that supposition is that we are still merely human. Our capacity to convert the Spirit’s power into action in our lives can cause us to become weary due to overexertion or excessive enthusiasm. Or we run into adversity that causes us to disconnect from the Spirit because we can fix the problem on our own power. Sometimes, we just get bored or maybe get distracted by that shiny, new thingy that appeared in our path. No matter how many times you talk about “consistency in your spiritual life,” realize we are human and inherently, inconsistent creatures. If we as preachers and teachers are worth our salt, we will be encouraging people to be the best followers of Jesus they can be and give them tools to help them be better today than they were yesterday.
Now back to the problem of what do we do when we let our batteries run out of power – how do we recharge? I think there are three critical tools that God created so that we can energize our batteries on the fly and help us to be the servants we were created to become.
- Worshiping regularly with a community of other Jesus followers gives us an energy boost as well as a better understanding of what all this new stuff means for us. Now, hear me clearly, I am endorsing you to go to church somewhere with other people; not just listening to a sermon podcast in the car on your daily commute. And don’t get me started on the “I can worship God anywhere” folk, that topic is a whole blog post for another day.
- Find other Jesus followers to go on this journey with you. God create Eve so that Adam would not be alone and God intends the same for us. Join a small group or a Sunday School class, serve on a mission team, whatever works best for you. Also, engage with people one-on-one to find answers to questions, support for making tough decisions, or a mentor to provide guidance.
- Take time regularly to rest and relax your brain and body. God created the concept of Sabbath which is another one of those complex church ideas, but simply stated its our time to let the Spirit re-energize our batteries so that we are prepared to go where Jesus asks us to go and do the things God calls us to do. I highly recommend you talk to your pastor or teacher about this concept because if you can do Sabbath well, you can be the person Jesus needs as a follower.
Now, in typical church fashion, we offer different styles of worship and label our groups a variety of different names, but as leaders, let’s make it a priority to help people find the best place to engage with the Spirit and keep their batteries charged. I truly believe if church leaders can help their people find worship, find other people, and find Sabbath rest, then they will find Jesus!