Spiritual Disciplines & Growth Resources
Week 1 - Where Do I Start?
General Overview of Spiritual Formation
Where in Scripture does it talk about growing in one’s faith?
Read these passages: Matthew 16, John 15, James 4, 1 Peter 2, 1 Timothy 4
Response question: What stuck out to you from these passages?
If you would like to hear a message about why and how we grow in our faith, check out this message here!
You can’t stumble into a growing faith.
Grace is the means of transformation, not just transportation.
Graphic of false view vs. proper view
Spiritual Disciplines are the tools for the grace of Christ to do a transforming work in our lives.
The point of the DO is to lead you to the WHO.
If you can only read one… Habits of Grace by David Matthis
Looking for something a little more academic… Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
A Quick 5-Minute Video you might like…
Click here to listen to Richard Foster discuss the sanctuary of the soul.
If you would like more resources, tools, and suggestions about Spiritual Growth
Renovare.org is the gold standard of all things related to this subject.
Week 2 - Spiritual Gifts
Where in Scripture does it talk about Spiritual Gifts?
Read these passages: 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:1-8, Galatians 5:13-26
Response question: What do you notice about the description of Spiritual Gifts in these passages?
God gives gifts to those living in the Spirit.
Not all gifts are the same, but all gifts are essential.
Every gift must work together for the sake of God and others.
Spiritual Gifts Test link: sdrock.com/giftstest…. Let us know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that spiritual gifts tests are not perfect, but only a tool to possibly help you identify your areas of gifting. Self-awareness of your passions, desires, and natural skills come into play as well. Once you’ve gotten your results, here’s a few questions to chew on...
Are you serving at FIRST and/or in the community? If not… FIRST Serve is a great place to take that step of finding out how to serve your local body. We would love to come alongside of you to help be the church where you live, work, and play.
Do your gifts match the team you are currently serving with? It’s okay if they don’t, but ideally we would love to place you in a role that best aligns with your gifts and passions. We would encourage you to reach out to a pastor who oversees the team you are on if you have questions about your spiritual gifts being best utilized.
How can you view your area of service as a spiritual discipline and act of worship moving forward? Every time we serve we are making a tangible decision to let the grace of Jesus work in our lives. Write down a couple of ways you plan to see your role as a spiritual discipline of service and how it makes a difference for the Kingdom of God.
Week 3 - PRayer
Passages: Matthew 6:5-18, James 4:3, Matthew 26:36-46, 1 Peter 4:1-11, Philippians 4:4-7
Response question: When you think of prayer, what comes to your mind?
Response question: What about prayer encourages you? What about prayer might be intimidating?
Prayer expresses our desire for God. Fasting exposes our need for God.
Prayer turns a monologue into a dialogue.
Prayer and fasting doesn’t give you a less busy life… but it does offer a less busy heart.
Echo Prayer App - a great (and free!) tool for helping you grow in your prayer life through keeping a prayer log, automated timers, and more! Download it today to begin taking a next step in your time with God.
P - Praise: We start our prayer time by remembering it is a conversation with a all-knowing and all-loving sovereign God. If prayer is primarily about time with God, then we should always be reminded of how great He is - and how we are not. Start you prayer by talking with God about something you appreciate about His character and why. (Matthew 6:9, Psalm 5:3)
R - Repent: When we place our faith in Jesus, we know that through the grace of Jesus we are forgiven and atoned for our past, present, and future sins. However, we all still sin. This is why we need to repent of our sins and confess them to God, regularly (1 John 1:9, Matthew 6:12-13)
A - Ask: After our hearts have spent time with God through praise and repentance, we are ready to ask. The great part about a God to whom we matter is that whatever matters to us, matters to Him. Spend a few moments about “asking” God for whatever is on your heart or going on in your life (people, decisions, friends, family, yourself, being better at prayer!, etc.) (Hebrews 4:16, James 4:2, Matthew 7:7-8)
Y - Yield: If prayer is truly a dialogue with God, then we must make time to let him talk. This is the point where we can slow down, pause, and let the Spirit guide us to what God may be wanting to say to us. We must be willing to yield our desires, thoughts, and plans to God’s sovereign wisdom. (Matthew 6:10-11, Psalm 46:10)
One of the greatest strengths to our faith is to pray the prayers of others. At first, most of us probably have a strange reaction… thinking to ourselves, “should my prayers be MY prayers and no one elses?” Not the case. In fact, for many centuries, pre-written or guided prayer has unified disciples around the globe and throughout time. Whether the Book of Common Prayer or the modern Handbook to Prayer (by Ken Boa), some may glean immense help and guidance from the prayers of others. You can click this link to see a google document of just a few of the pre-written prayers our staff has found helpful.
On the discipline of fasting...
Here is a great video, and brief description, on the benefits of fasting.
If you could only read one… A Praying Life by Paul Miller
Looking for someone’s reflections on prayer… Prayer by AW Tozer
If you like pre-written prompts (liturgical style) for prayer… Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne
Week 4 - Bible Intake
Passages: Matthew 4:1-4, Psalm 119:1-16, Hebrews 4, 2 Timothy 3:16, Joshua 1
God speaks life (through His Word).
If God is speaking, we should be listening.
Head knowledge and heart change lead to one another.
We read for breadth (raking). We study for depth (digging).
Long Story Short, The Big Story - Check out Week 1 of our “Long Story Short” teaching series where our Teaching Pastor, Eric Friedmann, outlined the overall narrative of The Bible. This message will help you to see the Bible as one big story.
The Bible App - The Bible App is above and beyond the best digital Bible app out there. From being able to read and download dozens of translations to thousands of Bible reading plans, it is a must-have for any device.
Blue Letter Bible - This (free!) website is a phenomenal resource for your times of Bible study. While there is a little bit of a learning curve, this tool allows you to look up passages, the meaning of words from the Greek or Hebrew, and even see what a few scholars and commentaries have to say in the explanation of the passage at hand. We recommend this for anyone wanting to study in depth a or as you prepare for a group lesson.
Lectio Divina - Lectio Divina, meaning “sacred reading,” is the traditional monastic practice of reading and meditating on Scripture; often thought as “feasting on the Word, in the manner of how a cow chews its cud.” The aim of Lectio is to pray Scripture and draw near to God. Here is a brief video explanation of how Lectio Divina may be practiced (note: the steps discussed in the video are slightly different, but all the same). Below is an outline of the five steps of Lectio Divina.
Silencio (silence) - Start your time with God by spending a few moments in silence to ready you heart, soul, and mind to hear from the Lord.
Lectio (reading) - Begin reading the passage very slowly and intentionally. Take notice of key words, repetitions, or anything that speaks to you. Then, re-read the passage again, taking time to pause, and repeat (even out loud!) the words or phrases that draw your attention. The goal is to feel the words with your heart, soul, and mind.
Meditatio (meditation) - Now, think of that word or phrase that really grabbed your attention. Spend the next few minutes repeating and reflecting on what God is speaking to you.Think about what the phrase that stood out to you meant to the original audience, and what the author might have been thinking when he wrote it; and how you might apply it to your life. Maybe even consider writing it down.
Oratio (prayer) - The next step is to take everything you have thought and felt thus far, and take it to God in prayer. Whether you need to praise God, feel thankful, convicted, or an area of improvement - know the grace of Jesus allows us to boldly approach God with our full heart and mind.
Contemplatio (contemplation) - The final stage is to now let God do the talking (Psalm 46:10). Enter into a time of silence and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you seek to just “be” with God.
SOAP Journaling - While journaling is not for everyone, it is a fantastic tool to really hone in on and take your Bible reading to the next level. There are many different “forms” of journaling, but we love the simplicity and tangibility of the SOAP method. Pastor Wayne Cordeiro explains how to use the SOAP Journaling method in this video. Here’s what the SOAP Journaling method looks like:
Start by grabbing your bible and a way to journal - either paper and pen, the notes app on your phone, a word document, etc.
S - Scripture: Start by reading a passage of Scripture and highlight a verse or phrase that jumps out to you. Following along with some type of reading plan is usually best (see the Bible App for great suggestions). At the top of the page, write the date and the passage you read for this day.
O - Observation: This is another way of answering the question of “what is happening in this passage?” To the best of your ability, write out a few sentences observing the passage.
A - Application: Take a few moments to think how this passage applies to your life as a disciple. It could be anything from something you need pray about to an a-ha moment of growth in your faith to an encouragement to take the next step in the life of your church. Write down the application as an action step of how you will seek to live out this truth.
P - Prayer: Wrap up your journal by writing out a quick prayer asking the Spirit to make this truth a reality in your life.
If you’re looking for a Bible to help you read the Bible as a story… The Wayfinding Bible
Those looking for help in digging deeper… Seven Arrows by Matt Rogers
Raise your hand if journaling is your thing!... The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro
Ever wished you went to Bible college? Check this out… How To Read the Bible For All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee
Week 5 - Sabbath & Rest
Passages: Mark 2:23-28, Genesis 2:1-3 Psalms 3:5, Psalms 127:1-2
If God chose to rest, then we need to make the same choice.
Sabbath is the active confession of both our limits and the limitless love of God.
Prioritize your need to rest.
Ideas for practicing sabbath: Here is a list of a few ideas you might find helpful or beneficial in practicing the discipline of rest and sabbath:
Black Out Time: Pick 30-60 minutes every day, either the morning or evening, where you black out everything (turn off the phone, screens, etc.) and rest. You can spend this time reading the Word, praying, or just thinking about your day.
Sabbath Box: Create a Sabbath Box by putting all of your distractions (phone, computer, TV remotes, etc.) into a box for a few hours every week. Maybe this right when you get home from church on Sunday afternoons or Sunday evening as you gear up for the new week. Spend time catching up with those in your home - or by yourself - reflecting on your relationship with God and others.
Recapture the Game Night: Pick a night once a month to do the classic pizza and game night. Maybe it’s with your family, community group, or a handful of friends. Either way, have everyone turn-off the phone and tv, and enjoy the restful attitude of being with people.
Quiet Hour: There is a monastic tradition of the “Quiet Hour” where monks would wake up and remain silent for the first hour(s) of their day. We know, sounds impossible! Schedule a time once a month to practice the Quiet Hour. As you go about your morning in silence, reflect on inviting God into your day and life - even the most mundane activities.
Go for a walk...without your phone: Pick time once a week to unplug by going for a walk, but leave the phone at home (or at least turned off!) You can use this time to reflect on God’s glory through Creation. Try finding a simple prayer that you repeat constantly throughout the walk… maybe it’s every mile marker or every time you turn down a new street, you might find peace in it all.
Take a (intentional) nap: There’s a difference between napping out of exhaustion and laziness versus napping with a purpose. Do yourself a favor by practicing the spiritual discipline of rest by planning a 20 minute nap every week at some point. As you lay down to rest, remind yourself that God is in control, the world will go on without you, and it’s okay to slow down.
Create a say “no” list/day: Most of us would love to say “no” to more in our life. The problem is whenever something comes along, we jump at the opportunity without thinking about the implications of our busyness. So instead, spend a little bit of time coming up with a “say no list” or “say no day” by picking a day once every other month were you say “no” to certain things (sports, parties, invites, etc.) OR a day that you will leave completely clear. Find solace in prioritizing your need to rest. It’s okay to say no.
Schedule an annual Solitude Day: Pick a day, once a year, to spend time with God - alone - somewhere away from your home or work. Maybe it’s at a park, a lake, a new place, “where” doesn’t matter! What matters is bringing a Bible, some snacks, and something to write with. No need to have a heavy schedule lined out, but spend the day (or half-day to start) reading, praying, reflecting, resting, and anything else the Spirit leads you towards.
The Prayer of Examen: The purpose of the Examen (handout) is a prayerful reflection on the events of our day or week. This particular prayer doesn’t have to be long or robust. Many have found it to be more about a restful attitude and posture with God. If you would like to know more, here is a short article outlining the purpose of the Examen.
If you could only read one… The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Curious about the negative effects of (too much) technology in our lives?....Alone Together by Sherry Turkle
Raw reflections on spending time with God… The Furious Longing Of God by Brennan Manning
Week 6 - Worship
Passages: Colossians 2:6-15, Colossians 3:17-25, Galatians 2:17-21, Romans 12:1-2, John 4
Worship is expressing the fullness of Jesus within us.
Worship isn’t an activity, but actively praising God.
Music is worship, but worship is not (just) music.
How do I worship God with my life? Worship God as much as you can.
Creating a Rule of Life : The Rule of Life goes back to St. Benedict in the 6th Century. He urged those in the monastic community to prayerfully consider how to “order their life” to invite God into their regular rhythms. Basically, that’s what a rule of life is - ordering the values of your life so that you can best make decisions and plan out your days, weeks, months, and years. A rule of life breaks down your daily, weekly, and monthly priorities.
DAILY I will… spend time with God through Bible intake and prayer, plan out my lunch, tell my family I love them, etc.
WEEKLY I will… attend church, go to my group, honor the Sabbath on Sundays, exercise 3-4x a week, etc.
MONTHLY I will… take a half-day with God, tithe twice, serve my church at least twice, etc.
Here is a phenomenal template for creating your own Rule of Life.
Scripture Memorization: Memorizing passages of Scripture provides us the opportunity to take the truths of God with us - no matter where we go - as well as the ability to recall those truths in a moments notice. These verses not only become pieces of encouragement for us, but can also serve in our encouragement for others, our daily battle against sin, and communicating the gospel of Jesus to others.
Try memorizing a verse by writing it down, posting it somewhere that you will see it
multiple times a day, and recite it out loud until you have it down. Here are 5 suggestions
One of the best books on a lifestyle of worship… The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Trish Harrison Warren
Wanting to know more about living as a disciple?... MARCS of a Disciple by Robby Gallaty
For those trying to bring meaning to the work-place… Work as Worship by Mark Russell
A short book on living a life for God… The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer
June 16–July 21
Small disciplines have the potential to yield big results. While change isn’t always easy, it isn’t impossible either. Most of us have a desire to grow in our faith, but we don’t know where to start or how to take a next step. Sometimes you just have to start somewhere; and that somewhere doesn’t have to be huge. In this six-part teaching series, we will see how a few small habits can yield big differences in your spiritual life with Jesus.