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Summary: Every Christ follower must be intentional in growing in relationship to others and God. And the church must be intentional about helping you to grow in your faith. That happens primarily through small group Bible Study and Sunday School

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Our Strategy: Grow

John 13:34-35

In this series, we’ve been looking at our strategy to accomplish our mission of “Connecting diverse communities to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus.” The first step in our strategy is “Celebrate.” We celebrate because worshiping God is the purpose of our life. People need to be refocused on God, to grow in their understanding of and confidence in God and to experience God. But most of all, they need to respond to God not just with their confession of God but with committing and living their whole lives to God. Second is Discover. We must be willing to discover and learn to be the church and followers of Jesus. And for those of us who have been Christians all our lives, we must discover how God wants us to live, worship and serve him in new ways. Spiritual training is vital to a healthy and successful Christian life. Discover classes are not just about learning but about feeding the soul and equipping the follower of Jesus with the knowledge, understanding, skills and practices to live a life devoted to Jesus.

Today, we’re looking at the third part of our strategy, “Grow”. Every Christ follower must be intentional in growing in relationship to others and God. And Gretna UMC must be intentional about helping you to grow in your faith. That happens primarily through small group Bible Study and Sunday School. The essence of this strategy is to provide an environment where each individual has the opportunity to develop and grow in healthy, meaningful relationships in the family of God, while growing in their faith and understanding of God and His purposes for our lives. So there are two parts to growth: our relationship with God and others. That’s why we as Methodists believe the two primary things for spiritual growth, the Bible and relationships, should be done together.

The first occurs through Bible study. We need to know God’s word. It’s His guide for our life. We will never know God or God’s will unless we know His Word for our lives. And yet too many of us don’t know enough. The new minister was asked to teach a 6th grade boys’ class in the absence of the regular teacher. He decided to play Bible trivia with them, so he asked who knocked down the walls of Jericho. All the boys denied having done it, and the preacher was appalled by their ignorance. At the next deacons’ meeting he told about the experience. "Not one of them knows who knocked down the walls of Jericho," he lamented. The group was silent until finally one seasoned veteran of disputes spoke up. "Preacher, this appears to be bothering you a lot. But I’ve known all those boys since they were born and they’re good boys. If they said they didn’t know, I believe them. Let’s just take some money out of the repair and maintenance fund, fix the walls, and let it go at that." We all need to know God’s Word for our lives. Why? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

First, it teaches me about God and his plan for my life. The Bible is God’s written revelation of his will to all people. Second, it provides spiritual strength for the challenges and problems of life. Third, it provides guidance in life. The Bible teaches me right from wrong. It gives me a moral compass to direct my steps and truth when the world around me says something differennt. Fourth, it provides wisdom in decision making. People read books, consult experts and even go to counseling to help them make the right decisions in life but only one knows all truth and only one has the wisdom which has withstood the challenges of time.

Bible study is essential for spiritual growth.1 Peter 2:2, for spiritual maturity. Hebrews 5:11-14 and for spiritual effectiveness 2 Timothy 3:16-17 but it must be done in community with others.

The second aspect of spiritual growth is relationships. Play the song, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” You remember this song, don’t you? It was of course, the theme show for “Cheers” – a fictional bar in Boston where the regulars developed relationships with each other that gave them strength in the hard times of their lives. “Sometimes you just wanna go where everybody knows your name and everybody is glad you came.” This need that people have to know and be known, loved and accepted for who they are is one of our basic needs as a human being. It’s how God wired us when he created us. All of us have a need for community with others – and that need for community has been created by God in each of us.

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