I periodically contribute to a blog that the community group leaders at LifePoint Church read. It’s a great way to encourage and equip our leaders. We have a dedicated group of people that are doing an excellent job of caring for and discipling many at LifePoint. Below you’ll find the post I did for February 23, 2010.
As a community group leader you probably know LifePoint Church’s strategy for producing Christ-like Influencers. You’ve probably heard about Gather-Grow-Serve (GGS) more than you want to. What we leave out of the equation each time we use the GGS phrase is the center piece. Really it is the part that holds GGS together. It’s the part of the strategy that brings meaning and sustainability to our Christ walk. Sometimes we refer to the shape of it as the hurricane symbol. It’s the personal spiritual disciplines that are in the Christian life. Without a daily time in God’s Word, prayer and other disciplines we are encouraged to exercise in our Christian life, the GGS strategy is a hollow exercise in us trying to be better.
So then as leaders we know that this center piece is important. But how do we wrap our arms around something that we all struggle with implementing. I don’t know about you, but the daily activities and priorities leave little room, let alone a strategy to spend time daily with God. Well, for most of us we only have one way that looks. It goes like this. We get up while it’s still dark. We open our Bibles and read a passage. We pray or try to as we fight falling back asleep or the crowding daily to-do list that comes crashing in to our minds. Therefore many of us feel like failures. We struggle with and then give-up on something that is so crucial to the success of GGS. What to do!
Have you ever thought it may not be you, but the idea you have in your mind that creates this pressure to follow the prescription described above? Gary Thomas explodes this myth – only one way to connect with God notion – in his book Sacred Pathways. He believes there are nine different ways we connect with God. Now let me make a disclaimer here. He’s not talking about how we come to Christ the first time. This isn’t a salvation notion, it’s a concept of how we are created by God to develop that intimacy with Him that He so desires to have with us. He believes there are these nine different pathways or connections and that God has wired each one of us differently so that we can have that unique connection with Him after receiving His free gift of salvation offered through His Son Jesus.
Here are the nine pathways:
- Naturalists – Loving God Outdoors
- Sensates – Loving God with our Senses
- Traditionalists – Loving God through Ritual and Symbol
- Ascetics – Loving God through Solitude and Simplicity
- Activists – Loving God through Confrontation
- Caregivers – Loving God by loving others
- Enthusiasts – Loving God with Celebration and Mystery
- Contemplatives – Loving God through Adoration
- Intellectuals – Loving God with the Mind
Some of the pathways are self-explanatory and others need some unpacking before you realize what they actually entail. As one reads through this book another thing happens. You see yourself in several of them. I have found that I do some of my best connecting with God vacuuming our home or going on short-term mission trips (Care-giver). However my primary pathway is the Contemplative one. I love losing myself in God’s love singing His praises. I usually do this where no one else can hear me (my car). Yet I love being in the Word every morning so the Intellectual connection is there as well.
Perhaps you’ve been missing your primary connection with God by trying to do the Intellectual thing each morning. Perhaps caring for others, or being in nature (taking a walk on a snowy day, or being in a room filled with plants and trees) is your best way to connect with Him.
These things are too important to ignore. My encouragement to you is to get a copy of Thomas’ book and read it. There are even brief assessments you can take in each chapter to measure how high you score in each pathway. I’ll tell you that the Ascetic pathway is just not me! Boy am I glad. Then, talk it over with your community group. You may want to study this book with them. I think it’s worth a look to see if it’s something that will liberate the minds of your group members when it comes to this very important area of our Christian walk – connecting with God.
But first read and digest it yourself.
As Pastor of Ministries at LifePoint Church I cannot tell you all what an enormous role you play in the discipleship and care of our people. We could not do it without your diligent work and leadership in the community group ministry. You are all held in high regard. May God bless you all richly!
Yours in His Service,