Trying to convince computer-age people to practice spiritual disciplines—such as regular prayer, Bible study, and giving—is like trying to sell hair restorer to a bald man. He might accept that he needs the stuff, but he's not convinced your product can deliver. In response to an article I'd written on fasting, a lady wrote, "You don't really believe we're supposed to do that in the twentieth century, do you?"
The trick, for those of us who are pastors and church leaders, is finding ways to minimize the obstacles and give people the joy of discipline. Here are some ways our congregation has found to do that.
Present Disciplines as Normal
Most Christians wish they were more disciplined. They know they should pray consistently, read their Bibles more regularly, and give generously—just as they should exercise more faithfully and spend their time more wisely. But their guilt about their lack in these areas causes them to dismiss the disciplines, considering them only for the spiritually elite. After all, how many people besides Martin Luther and John Wesley get up early for an hour of prayer? As a result, many people accept the notion, "I'm just not a disciplined person," and leave it at that.
It's vital for a church to talk about Christian disciplines as a normal part of the believer's life, not an add-on for the spiritually elite. Churches can introduce the spiritual disciplines in the new member's class so that people hear about them right from the beginning. Churches should stress that they don't endorse one set of principles for normal folk and another for the all-stars.
Model Them Through Leadership
As we all know, the Christian life is more caught ...