Taking Root: Growing stronger and deeper in the Christian life

[This is the first of a series of ongoing weekly emails I'll be sending out to our church family. I'm posting it here to encourage further discussion. Of course, all are welcome to join in!]

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

This is the prayer of every pastor, that their fellow believers would truly grow and mature as followers of Christ. Our passion is to do everything we can to see this growth take place. As Paul wrote earlier in the same letter: “We want to present them to God, mature in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”

A common topic of discussion in our elders’ meetings is: How can we be more effective at making disciples? We understand that—no matter how much we’re able to do on Sunday morning—we all still need more in order to grow stronger in our Christian walk. What can we do to facilitate this growth?

In the past, our main focus has been on midweek Bible studies. We believe in Bible studies! We love getting together with our brothers and sisters, digging into the Word together and sharing with each other what God is teaching us. We’d love to have a midweek Bible study in every community, from Aguadilla to Mayagüez. Hopefully, we’ll be able to start more studies in the future so that you will all have a Bible study close to you.

But even if we had a Bible study in every barrio, many of our people would still not be able to participate regularly. We’ve learned this in our experiences with the group we have right here in Rincón. So many have come to me and said that they would love to be a part of the study, but there’s just no way that they can be here when we meet. There are always logistical and scheduling issues to resolve and, unless we have groups meeting 24/7, someone inevitably gets left out. And we can’t forget those of us who travel frequently. For them, a weekly Bible study would be wonderful, but it’s usually not possible.

So, instead of trying to somehow plan Bible studies that everyone can attend at the same time, in the same place—we’re bringing the Bible study to you! This is to introduce Taking Root, a new, weekly Bible study that I’ll be sending out via email. We’ve been inspired by Nick’s Prayer Corner. Nick’s weekly email is a great blessing to many of us, and we don’t at all intend to replace it, but to supplement it. Where Nick is especially gifted at exhorting us (encouraging and challenging us) in our Christian walks, Taking Root will be more geared to teaching. Of course, Nick does some teaching, and I’ll be doing some encouraging and challenging! But we’re intending for our emails to complement each other, not be redundant.

This also isn’t intended to replace our current weekly Bible studies. We still hope to be able to start more studies in more communities to provide all of you opportunities for fellowship and spiritual growth during the week. But until we get enough groups planted—and for those who aren’t able to attend a midweek study—this is the next, best thing.

As with our midweek Bible studies, we’re not going to be doing much verse-by-verse study of whole books of the Bible. We love expository study of Scripture, but that’s what we do on Sunday morning, and we don’t want to just send out another sermon. This is our chance to explore the questions that you’re asking. So if there are any topics or issues that you’re wrestling with, let me know! Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of questions on the subject of prayer, so beginning next week we’ll be taking a deeper look at prayer (which also ties in nicely with Nick’s Prayer Corner). If you have specific questions regarding prayer, send them in.

Each week, I’ll not only send out this email, but I’ll also post it on my blog. If you just want to read the email—great. But if you’d like to participate in some discussion on the topic for the week, you can follow the link to my blog and post any questions or comments that you have. For instance, if you’re interested in discussing this email, just go to:

http://exploringthefaith.com/2011/08/25/taking-root/

Of course, I know what it’s like to be bombarded with emails! If you already have more than you can handle—and if this is simply one email too many—just let me know and I’ll take your name off the list. We want this to be a blessing, not another chore.

As always, feedback and ideas are welcome! But whatever we do, let’s strive to continue to follow Christ, to let our roots grow down into him, to let our lives be built on him, so that our faith will grow strong in the truth we were taught and we will overflow with thankfulness.

Grace and peace,
Curt

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