Become a good tree who bears good fruit
In the famous “sermon on the mount” Jesus drew a compelling picture of people who are fanning the fire of the Spirit into flame, or not:
📖 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).
The way of Jesus is an inner journey and an outer journey. We have a long way to go whichever direction we face! We look inward to become whole and we look outward to share that goodness: good trees bear good fruit. Healthy cells multiply. People who live in shalom make peace. Living congregations grow. Compassionate people transform those they touch and the world itself. Jesus said:
📖 “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded….I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:48-49).
We are the hearth where the fire is continually kindled. This part of the journey, the “fire” part, is all about receiving your gifts and giving them, in that we are all led to do our part in the Lord's mission, maybe not as an official leader, but surely as someone who knows where the bread is and will show or tell hungry people how to find it.
Develop an adult faith that builds an alternative
1. Listen to God and pray together
In the fire stage it is often time to grow into a fully adult faith. That could take a long time, but it always begins with "fanning into flame" the gifts we have been given (2. Tim. 1:6). Our cells and Sunday meetings are designed to express the fire we have, not perpetually try to kindle it. We're different that way; we trust Jesus in you. By the time you get to the fire stage, church will be rather boring if you are not building it.
Have a daily discipline of connecting deliberately with God.
Consider discernment. Recently the Church Planting Core Team has been encouraging us, here:
Pray in your cell.
Give over to worship.
2. Take a personal or group retreat
Jesus took time to be away from the crowds and even his closest followers, to be alone and commune with the Father. We are learning the ways of solitude and communion after his example. We take time for solitude and reflection outside of our normal activities and rhythms of life in the body to intentionally retreat. Some of our group retreats have been weekends for men or women; sometimes the whole church is invited. We have them for special seasons, in honor of notable people, for prayer, for envisioning and more. Each event will have its special character and you can decide if you would like to be a part. You will see the offerings in list of Gifts for Growing.
There are many online resources for how to take a personal, spiritual retreat. Here is one.
The Pastors are committed to having an overnight retreat once a quarter. They and others have collected a list of nearby retreat centers they have used. View locations of retreat centers here. Download an outline for 2 to 4 person retreats here.
3. Explore your spiritual gifts
Fire is experienced in the Body of Christ, filled and filling, receiving and giving, being built and building. As Paul teaches, "There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:4-7). You have a vital part to play in the church.
Visit our Spiritual Gifts page for Discernment Exercises, Bible studies, and complete definitions of spiritual gifts.
4. Deepen your practical application of the Bible
By this stage you probably have more than enough of the Bible to apply. Read all the Pastors' suggestion on their Goodreads, go to seminary if you like, but the best Bible training will always be doing what needs to be done with what you already have. As Paul says, "Let’s live in a way that is consistent with whatever level we have reached" (Phil. 3:16). If Jesus has brought you to a level where you are ready to build, then read the books, read the blogs, listen to the podcasts, get involved in the Doing Theology sessions, make your cell dialogue meaningful. We are a school for faith at your fingertips.
The Anabaptist Dictionary of the Bible is a tool from a branch of the Christian tree we appreciate.
5. Explore and imitate the examples of our transnational, transcultural, transhistorical body of Christ
We have a blog devoted to lifting up great examples, men and women of all sorts from all ages, who can teach us how to live a life that makes a difference. It is also the place where we teach about the important days of the traditional Christian calendar. We call it Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body—You can subscribe or see all the entries here. The two Daily Prayer blogs usually let us know when a new entry appears, as well.
6. Receive the Gifts for Growing
We lay out a path from here to there in faith each year and provide resources for people making their way in deeper faith, hope and love. We call these resources “gifts for growing” since someone among us has given them as a gift to help us come to our fullness. These following offerings for 2018/19 especially relate to everyone fanning the sparks of God’s presence into the fire of transformation.