It isn’t easy to figure out how to cultivate faith. There are often many challenges that can get in the way. When a person is just starting out on our faith journey, it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin. If a person’s faith seems like it has grown a little stale, it can be a challenge to figure out how to get it jump started again. There are a number of ways that our faith can be cultivated, but I wanted to give you a place to get started. I eventually hope to add to the list over time. Anyway, if you are wondering what comes next in regards to your faith, give these steps a try.
Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus:
This should be obvious to us, but it isn’t as obvious as it should be. The very center of our faith is Jesus. If there is any other thing that gets in the way of that then we are already at a disadvantage in our faith formation. The author of Hebrews tells us the following in verses 12:1-3.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
If our faith strays even a little from Jesus as founder and perfecter of our faith, then we will have a difficult time cultivating our faith. We are certainly responsible for our faith as these verses point out. However, we must remember that Jesus is at work perfecting our faith. He is working to build it to make it stronger. If we lose sight of this and try to do it on our own we will struggle and fail. We must begin cultivating faith with the understanding that Jesus has been and will continue to be at work in you. Pray that He continues to do so, that you will see where He is at work, and that you will do your part to cultivate your faith to help to it grow.
Read, Read, and Read:
In an ultra-busy environment, it can be difficult to get in the habit of regular reading. In my humble opinion, reading can be a great way to get things moving in faith formation. There are all kinds of books that are meant to help you to cultivate faith. There are fiction and non-fiction books written entirely for that purpose. Some books are helpful while others aren’t much use at all. Discernment in this area can take time so if you are trying to develop a reading habit, I suggest beginning by asking the opinion of those you trust.
Ask your pastor, your Sunday school teacher, or someone else whose opinion you trust to help you find good books to read. Ask what they are reading or what they have read in the past that has helped them cultivate their faith. If you need a place to start, here are a few recommendations from me. Each of these has had a profound impact on my faith through the years and I keep coming back to them every few years for a refresher.
- Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
- The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
- Following the Movements of The Spirit: Spiritual Formation by Henri Nouwen
Take a Class:
This is an underutilized strategy for a lot of people. There are a lot of opportunities to learn more about the Bible, theology, and ministry by taking a class. Many churches offer short term and long term classes. Local churches can be a great resource for information. It may require you to look at a church outside of your own if you are looking for something specific.
There are also more formalized opportunities out there as well. Perhaps you have a local college, Bible college, or seminary in your area. They frequently accept local students to take a course outside of a program. Many of them offer a low-cost option. If you have an interest in a subject or would like to learn more about church history, practical ministry, theology, or to simply get a refresher on a book of the Bible, check out your local colleges and seminaries to see what is available. There are also a number of online programs that would allow you to take a course from the comfort of your own home. This can be a great way to learn and to be challenged in your faith.
If you are in western Pennsylvania, Biblical Life institute can be a great option for you to try out a course at an affordable cost.
Join or Start a New Ministry:
Nothing helps our faith grow quite like taking a step of faith into a new ministry. I’ve learned more about trust and faith in Christ when stepping into new ministry opportunities than just about anywhere else. Joining a ministry or starting a ministry forces us to realize that we must rely on Jesus. As much as we would like it to be true, we cannot control the outcome of ministry or how the Holy Spirit will be at work in peoples lives.
There are things we can do to help with people showing up, but we have to entrust the results to God. That’s hard. That’s why it is such an important part of faith formation. If we want to grow in faith, we have to be in a position to exercise our faith. It’s just like taking care of our bodies. If we want to build muscle, we have to work at it. Faith is the same. If we want it to grow, we have to use it. There are a few things that will help you exercise your faith like a new ministry project.
Go on a Retreat:
This is another one of those things that should be obvious, but it isn’t. We all need time away to recharge and connect with God. It helps to break out of our everyday rhythms of life to intentional connect with God in a different context. We need space to process and for quiet to help facilitate hearing God’s voice. I am convinced that we miss God’s voice speaking to us because our lives are too loud to hear Him clearly. We need to find those moments away from the normal rhythms of life to open that communication channel back up again.
There are a variety of ways this can happen. Churches often offer retreats of different kinds for their congregations. Perhaps a camping or hiking trip might do the trick for you. There are conferences that also may be of help. There may also be a retreat center near you that could provide you with space to get alone with God. Again, many Bible colleges and seminaries have retreat opportunities that may be of help. If you do a little digging there is a good chance you can find a place nearby to get away for a little bit and connect with God in a different context. This is well worth the time and energy it takes to do it. BLI offers a variety of different directed and self-directed retreat options if you are looking to cultivate your faith in this way.
Not A Magic Formula
If you are looking to take the next step to grow your faith, give one or all of these opportunities a try. These options aren’t a magic formula for spiritual formation. People respond differently to different content and different circumstances based on what the Holy Spirit is up to in your life. However, these suggestions can put you in a position to hear God’s voice more clearly, to stretch your faith, and learn about new ideas and skills and most importantly…point you to Jesus as the founder and author of your faith.
If you would like to read more from me, check out my Discipleship and spiritual formation blog at https://jeremyscottandrews.wordpress.com/.