As an FSM staff, our chief desire is to see God transform students into world changing followers of Christ. Out of their personal walks with Christ, we want our students to experience radical life change, to root in authentic biblical community, and to develop a clear sense of mission.
Jesus makes it clear in John 15 that it is impossible to bear spiritual fruit of any kind without abiding in him.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:4-6, ESV)
It’s evident that if we want FSM students to truly be transformed, we need to teach them how to abide. Below we have highlighted several spiritual disciplines that we want to challenge ourselves and our students to partake in regularly. These have been taken from Richard Foster’s 1978 book Celebration of Discipline, a wonderful resource on the subject. This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a few ideas to get us and our students thinking:
- Meditation – Foster defines Christian meditation simply as “the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.” In practice, it looks like simply dwelling on the revealed word of God in the Bible, thinking about it, and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate it and help you put it into practice. If studying Scripture is focused on distilling the original meaning of the text, then meditating on Scripture is focused on relating the text to your own life. We typically associate this discipline with our quiet times.
- Prayer – Disciples of Christ should look to spend significant time in prayer, which is possibly the most central discipline of the faith. Prayer is simply talking to God. Setting aside times to pray through scripture, to pray for yourself, and to intercede for others is key. Additionally, we are told in Scripture to “pray without ceasing,” throughout our days (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- Study – Romans 12:2-3 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” According to Foster, “The mind is renewed by applying it to those things that will transform it.” Spending time studying primarily the Bible (and secondarily other books), working diligently to understanding it’s original meaning, is extremely important. It’s here that you’ll build your doctrine.
- Solitude – The discipline of solitude is the act of getting away from all people and distraction and sitting in genuine silence before God, listening to him, in need of nothing but him. Take these times early in the mornings when you wake up, during the commute to school or work, on a free Saturday afternoon, etc.
- Service – “Genuine service causes us to experience the many little deaths of going beyond ourselves. Service banishes us to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial… nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness.” says Foster. Service builds humility into us. When it is done in secret, without praise, it puts the sinful flesh in it’s place. Look for opportunities to serve those around you frequently.
- Confession – James 5:16 urges us as believers to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” While Christ is the only mediator between man and God now (1 Timothy 2:5), the discipline of confessing sin to other believers brings humility and an end to pretense. This kind of authenticity will bring about healing and will make much of the cross of Jesus in your life.
Let us as leaders implement these disciplines into our lives, that we might be able to lead out as examples to our students.