I hate to sound super cheesy, but I fully believe that faith is a muscle, and in order to keep that muscle strong, you have to exercise it. I’m going to accept my cheesy-ness and call it by its proper name: Faith-ercise. Now, we’re all aware that church is the most obvious way to work out those faith muscles, but faith-ercise is most effective when it is taken out of the church and incorporated into everyday life. So, here are 7 ways to faith-ercise outside of church:
- Join a Bible study group. A Bible study group is a great way to meet new people. It provides guidance to learn about the many teachings and stories in the Bible, and it’s an opportunity to share your thoughts and hear other people’s perspectives and interpretations on faith and life. (Bonus: There is also the possibility of delicious snacks. Sharing good conversation and good food – that’s a real treat.)
- Donate your time to the community you live and work in. Volunteering will connect you to your community and open your eyes to the many resources that are available. It’s a simple way to spread love and compassion with no strings attached.
- Invite new people into your life – and I’m not talking about that new family in church. Have you ever heard the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together”? Well, humans flock together too. We have a tendency to spend time with the people we are most comfortable with – our family and friends, and people who share the same background, the same faith and the same political beliefs. But, we won’t grow in life or in faith if we’re always surrounded by people we understand. The best way to learn and grow, and understand the world we live in, is to be open to the people who have different and sometimes challenging perspectives.
- Be a positive force in your community. There is a lot of negativity in the world these days, and it’s important to acknowledge it, but we don’t have to be consumed by it. One way to deal with negativity is to go forth with patience, love and kindness, and set a positive example for those around you to do the same.
- Earn the right to be heard. If you are excited about your faith and you want to shout the good news from the rooftops, just remember that evangelism is a tricky thing. It’s easy to assume that because you have the good news, other people want to hear it. But there’s a time and a place for evangelism and often those words fall on deaf ears. If you want to share the good news, you must first earn the trust of the people you want to share it with. If you take the time to build relationships with people, you’ll eventually get to a place where you’ll know how best to have that conversation.
- Pray. Prayer is something you can do anywhere, at any time. It’s an expression of faith, and a direct line of communication with God. You can speak your prayers out loud or write them in a journal. You can pray with a group of people or by yourself. You can read a prayer that you like from a prayer book. You can pray, and might want to pray, while riding a roller coaster. There are so many options. So, if prayer is something you connect with, find the way that suits you best and just go for it.
- Learn to talk about your doubts and struggles. Christians are often stereotyped as having blind faith in God, blind faith in religion. We don’t question it – we just believe in it… but this isn’t true at all. Many people question their beliefs and feel alone in that. If you’re doubting your faith, or struggling with a certain aspect of religion, find someone you can talk to about it. If you’re not comfortable speaking about it with the people in your community, do a google search on it. See if you can find any reading material that addresses the issues you’re having. Send an e-mail to the minister of the church in the next town over. You’ll learn that you are not alone and that there is no shame in seeking answers to the tough questions.