|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on March 2, 2011 at 12:15 AM|
Dear Friends in Christ,
Several pastors in our cluster are challenging their congregations to grow spiritually during Lent by taking a 40-day discipleship challenge. The challenge was devised last year by Pastor Ben Sandin from King of Kings in Shelby Township for his church. This year he has made his booklet available to those churches who wanted to buy it for use in their churches. I did consider it, but the Holy Spirit led me to use the general idea and then structure it especially for our church. Instead of being based on the five marks of discipleship, our challenge is based on the discipline of Lent to which we are invited each year during the Ash Wednesday service, as follows:
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. (Ash Wednesday service, ELW, Leaders Desk Edition)
This year I hope to make it easier for you to accept this invitation, whether or not you are able to attend the Ash Wednesday service.
Here is the general outline of the challenge:
1. Don’t be too ambitious. It’s okay to choose one discipline to concentrate on or to add to what you already do.
2. Make use of the opportunities the church provides or create opportunities at home:
As far as other kinds of fasts go, Lent is a good time to make healthy changes in your life, by giving up smoking or an unhealthy diet, as long as you plan to continue the good habits after Lent. Giving up a pleasure, such as watching television, reading novels, etc. for forty days can help you feel close to Jesus, who gave up so much more. You might also consider the kind of fast called for in Isaiah 58: one that involves changing attitudes towards others and sharing one’s time and substance.
3. Take the challenge with someone else. You can encourage each other and hold each other accountable. Families can do this together, too. Tailor the goals to each family member. That’s easier to do if each person has his or her own calendar to use. You will find extra on the small table in the narthex.
4. Be creative!
My goal is to...
I will do the following to reach my goal...
May you enjoy this challenge and be blessed in the doing of it!
Download the Discipleship Challenge Calendar & Letter