How do people grow in their faith?  Well, the question I really want to ask is, what kinds of things do churches do to help people grow in their faith?  Here are a few things we did in my church:

  • Held worship services
  • Sang worship songs
  • Had small groups
  • Asked people to usher and serve coffee on Sunday mornings
  • Did mission projects, both local and global
  • Encouraged people to read their Bible and pray during the week

In other words, we invited them to do a lot of church stuff.

These are all good and valuable to the church’s ministry, but if we’re not careful, they can also be very limiting to a person’s spiritual development.  Even if a person did all of these things, they would only comprise a few hours a week.  What about the rest of the week?  There is a lot of “formation” going on from other cultural sources during all those other hours in the week.

So…  How can people be spiritually formed, not only when they are doing church stuff, but also when they are at work or in class or around the dinner table?

 

A Discipleship Issue

Emphasizing only the few hours in a week that people are doing church stuff will rarely lead to deep inner life spiritual transformation.

This is why focusing on a person’s various vocations as sacred callings (both their primary and secondary callings—you can read about that HERE) is so critical.  When an electrician understands their work as a sacred calling…  When a babysitter understands their work as a sacred calling…  When a grandparent understands their care for their grandchildren as a sacred calling…  When a lawyer or business person or coffee barista understands their work as a sacred calling…

Well, that changes everything!

All of a sudden, your spiritual life is no longer limited to the stuff you do when you’re at church or in your small group.  No longer are you growing in your faith only when you’re engaged in explicitly spiritual activities.  No longer are you serving God only when you’re participating in what’s on the church calendar.  Now, all of life becomes the realm of the spiritual.  Now, God is understood to be present all the time, not just when we’re at church.  Now, even your job and your family and your school and your neighborhood can be the locus of spiritual transformation and service.

 

What Can the Church Do?

At this point, you may be thinking, “Yeah, that sounds great!  But how do I help people see the sacredness of their vocations?  What can my church do to help people live into their callings—their sacred callings—as parent, neighbor, student, and in whatever work they do?”

For now, sit with that question.  In future blog posts, I’ll introduce an idea—an idea for how you as pastor or ministry leader can help your people live into their sacred callings for the flourishing of the world.

In the meantime, any thoughts on how to develop a robust understanding of vocation in your congregation?