Mark S. Mitchell

Pastor, Writer, Follower of Jesus

How Faith Grows

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I’ve been reading a book by Andy Stanley called Deep and Wide. The sub-title is Creating churches unchurched people love to attend. I don’t agree with everything in the book, but it’s a good book that I’ve found helpful.

Andy is the Pastor at North Point Church in Atlanta. Their mission statement is: to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. After much thinking and praying, they also decided that faith is what grows in a growing relationship. Specifically, confidence in God. Confidence that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he has promised to do.

But then they took this even further and came up with five faith catalysts; five things that God uses to grow a person’s faith. Everything they do in that church revolves around at least one of these catalysts. They are:

  • Practical Bible Teaching: The emphasis here isn’t on knowing the Bible but understanding how the Bible affects the way we live our lives. Stanley believes topical sermons achieve this the best. I happen to disagree and believe expository preaching is more effective when done well.
  • Private Spiritual Disciplines: When people develop a private devotional life (prayer, reading and memorizing the Bible, etc.) they experience intimacy and accountability in their faith walks.
  • Personal Ministry: When people overcome their fears and step into personal ministry such as a short term missions trip, leading a children’s small group or sharing their faith story in front of a group of high school students, their confidence in God grows. Few things stretch our faith like jumping into a ministry environment where we feel unprepared and seeing God come through.
  • Providential Relationships: When people tell their own faith stories, they always share about the individuals that God placed in their path to help them grow. When we hear from God through someone else or when we see God in someone else, our faith gets bigger.
  • Pivotal Circumstances: We often call these “defining moments”. These include times of blessing as well as times of trial and disappointment. The key here is learning to interpret these events through a biblical worldview.

Take some time and think about how each one of these has contributed to your own faith journey. I find these five catalysts very helpful in thinking through what we do as a church to help people grow. Are we providing a context in which these five things are nurtured and experienced?

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