How do you get better at something? At anything? Yes, the answer is above: practice. This is as true of relationships as it is of engaging in sports, playing music or doing calculus. Practice — do an activity, receive feedback, make adjustments, repeat — improves skill at everything. The probem is we often don’t practice very well.
Doing the same thing over and over again does not count as practice. That’s called repetition. It may have some benefit, but it’s not practice. It is the feedback and adjustment that make practice an activity that leads to better baseball players, better students, and — dare I say it? — better followers of Jesus.
Many of us have been going to worship for a long time and going pretty regularly. For most of my life, I’ve been a more-than-fifty-Sundays a year kind of guy. I know that many of you have a similar story to tell. But have all those worship services and all those times repeating the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sanctus made us better followers of Christ? I think they have. Intentionally coming into the presence of God and praying, singing and listening to Scripture read and explained do have a positive effect on us. But there is so much more to our relationship with God. If you only talked to a friend once a week, you could still have a reasonably good friendship. However, if you talk once a day, the level of the relationship would probably be much deeper. I think we could practice our spirituality more.
The Church has always had ways to practice one’s faith, things to do in addition to corporate worship to help one grow closer to God. You know some of them: Scripture reading, prayer, meditation, being generous and serving others. We do these things, but do we practice? When is the last time you recieved some feedback — from a person a book or a website — about your paryer life, the way you read Scripture or your generosity? There’s nothing wrong with doing the same things repreatedly. I like to eat every day. More than once. But that is only enough to stay alive. If I want to thrive I need to think about what I eat, adjust what I eat so that it benefits me as much as possible and even think about when I eat. The same is true with our spiritual practices. We need to be mindful of how and when we pray, read Scripture, meditate, give, etc. We could also use the companionship of other peolpe to encourage and support us and even help us make adjustments.
As we move into 2018, the leaders at Trinity will be reaching out to the members and friends of Trinity to listen to you and see how the church might help you as you follow Jesus. Obviously, you don’t have to be part of this conversation, but I hope you will be. The goal is a deeper connection to Christ — a better practive and a better life — for everyone.