Evangelism, the making of new disciples, does not happen or happen well until those disciples already called to faith and baptism are practicing their faith. Worship, reading the Bible, prayer, works of mercy, fasting, and fellowship open us to a more profound relationship with God. As God becomes more and more a part of our lives, peace and joy, mercy and love, also become more and more a part of our lives. People see our love of God and his gifts, and want the same for themselves, and it becomes much easier to share our faith.
What follows are ways to more effectively practice your faith, and grow in God’s grace.
Reading our Bibles
We have sadly gotten out of the habit of daily reading of the Bible, and most of us have never read the Bible from cover to cover. Here are some ways to change that:
1. The NALC Daily Devotions
Daily Devotions are posted here at nalc.org
For your convenience, they are also available on our website under Daily Devotions.
2. Through the Bible in 90 Days Challenge
Developed by a layman, this program provides a daily schedule of Bible readings that will get you from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 in 90 days. Readers can use their own Bibles or an NIV that can be purchased and which has the list of readings for each day at the top of the page. A workbook is also available if participants are interested. This program works best as a group activity. Readers divide up into pairs to share what they learned and what most interested them over the week, and two video series are provided, the group chooses one of the two, to provide context for the week’s readings. The professors from Baylor University are topnotch teachers and the experience is very rewarding.
3. Peak Performance
Offered for exactly the right price, free, Peak Performance is one of a number of products offered by Concordia Publishing House to help us to become more faithful in our practice. This one obviously focuses on reading our Bibles. It consists of a downloadable chart, again for free, that lists readings for each day of the two years. Its format, a two year program, probably makes it seem less scary to people who look at the Bible and gulp at the thought of reading it all. But, it may also mean that people gradually drift away from it if they give up on their discipline for some days or weeks. Designed for personal devotions, it works well also for small group reading, like for a mother’s group or a men’s fellowship.
There is a vast sea of riches of prayer that most of us do not know is available to us as disciples of Jesus Christ. We know the Lord’s Prayer, we intercede on the behalf of others who are ill or dying or in need of some other form of help, and we participate in the corporate Prayers of the Church on Sundays and Holy Days. Many of us still pray at the table when we gather as a family for dinner, though not as many of us as used to, but a surprising number of us still pray before bed, asking God’s forgiveness as we prepare for sleep and the new day to come. For all of this, pastors get many questions from parishioners who know their prayer life is anemic, and want help.
Here are some resources to help a lamb who wants to spend more time in conversation with our Lord, or to help get a prayer group going.
- Daily Devotions from the North American Lutheran Church
- A Simple Way to Pray, Luther
Christian Books | Amazon
- Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Keller, 2016
Christian Books | Amazon
- Not a Lutheran source, but it is applicable generally to Christians of all sorts: http://www.prayeronline.org.au/
Sharing our Faith
Disciples are followers of Jesus, meaning they have a relationship with our Lord and Savior. Discipleship Moments are short video conversations with other disciples about their experience with Jesus Christ.
Discipleship Moments is published by the NALC:
Direct Link to NALC’s Discipleship Moments | Atlantic Mission District Link to Discipleship Moments
Faith and Font
Faith and Font was developed by Pastor Paul Hoffman of Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church of Seattle, Washington to make and nurture new disciples or to develop and strengthen the discipleship of people who have been disciples of Christ for years. It is based on the catechumenate model of the ancient church, a mentor based model during which a student is paired with a mature disciple of Jesus Christ to be formed as a Christian. This way of making new disciples and strengthening people in their discipleship is lay led, rather than pastor led, and much more focused on practice and forming our faith rather than simply learning it as a series of facts or propositions. Two day long training sessions in this way of forming disciples are held yearly at various places around the country.
Faith Forming Faith: Bringing New Christians to Baptism and Beyond, Hoffman and Bass, 2012
Available online here: Amazon
The Navigators is a parachurch organization whose ministry is to make disciples and equip them to share their faith. It is nondenominational and its scope is international. Their motto is “To know Christ and make him known.” Dawson Trotman founded the organization in 1933 after his experience of discipling fellow sailors before World War I.
The organization is guided by 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” It currently employs a coaching model for both churches and individuals that involves training disciples to disciple others.
The Navigators, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, offer a variety of programs through their website. The Navigators have a long and well established history of teaching new disciples of Christ as well as helping long established disciples to reconnect and to grow in their faith. They maintain a publishing arm which makes several books available including The Message Bible. The NALC has a relationship with the Navigators beginning with Bishop Bradoski and the NALC staff, and the NALC leadership is looking for more churches to become involved with the organization. The downside is there is a cost to their services and they are more in the evangelical mode, meaning non-sacramental.