A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post called “A change in diet and exercise for me… and for the church.” I explained that the doctor had recently advised me to change my diet and exercise, or I might be headed toward an unhealthy life. I’ve learned more about what a healthy diet and exercise means for me. But what about for the church.
Last week I explored the question, “What would be a healthy diet for the church?” (Follow this link for the introductory post of the series.) This week, in another series, I’m going to investigate the question, “What exercise helps the church remain (or become) healthy?”
Before I begin, we must think about what kind of exercise I’m talking about. For example, every day I do things (necessary and good things) that burn calories (to a point) but are simply a part of existence. Sleeping burns calories, but most people would not consider sleeping a form of exercise.
Sleeping, standing, breathing, eating… all of these things burn calories and are (technically) a form of exercise. But these are not the kinds of exercise that I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind of exercise that goes above and beyond simply existing. I’m talking about the kind of exercise that stretches you, that causes you to lose your breath, that makes you tired and sore and sweaty.
But, in a way, exercise is simply an extension of the normal things of life. In fact, there are some people who do not need special times of exercise because their lives are already filled with “exercise” type activities.
Followers of Jesus Christ exist through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and this existence demonstrates itself in prayer, reading Scripture, spending time with other believers (i.e., the “one anothers” – teaching, edifying, serving, rebuking, forgiving…). These are the things that are part of a Christian’s (and a church’s) existence, like eating, sleeping, and breathing are part of a person’s existence. (hmmm… maybe that’s why so many Christians – and churches – seem to be dead…)
Instead of looking at these “normal” things as exercise, we need to look beyond these aspects of existence and look for things that can help us remain (or become) healthy. As with our own bodies, these kinds of things will stretch us, cause us to lose our breath, leave us tired and sore and sweaty.
Again, like with people, some Christians and churches are already doing these kinds of things. These things are part of their lives, and they don’t have to add anything specific. However, even for those who “exercise,” you may find aspects of your lives that still need work.
So, what kinds of “exercise” does the church need? Well, there are many different kinds, just as there are different kinds of physical exercise (for example, build muscles vs. cardiac). But, I’m going to focus on three things that individual Christians and churches should practice to remain (become) healthy: 1) trusting, 2) giving, and 3) proclaiming. (By the way, I don’t mean “tithing” and “preaching”, but I’ll get to that later.)
I’d love to hear your thoughts as I begin this series.