Body Building

Body Building

“These words are dangerous, edgy, and provocative.” – Bishop Robert Schnase

Muscles must tear in order to grow. That’s the underlying concept for strength training and body building: ‘muscle growth’ is the body’s healing response to “micro tears” in muscle fiber caused by weight or resistance training. Conversely, if a muscle is not exercised over time, it will atrophy, resulting in weakness.

In my experience, the same holds true in my spiritual life. If I maintain certain spiritual “exercises,” I feel a sense of spiritual growth or strengthening. Just as it is true in our individual lives, surely it is true for the church.

The apostle Paul was clear that when one member of the body [of Christ] suffers, all suffer together with it. Thus, a church grows stronger when it’s members continue to engage in regular spiritual exercises. Conversely, when a church’s members neglect spiritual exercises the “body of Christ” will lose “muscle mass?” Apathy lead to atrophy?

Though it is not always the case, there are plenty of examples of large, vital mission-minded congregations that wasted away inside the ‘protective shell’ of their buildings. For whatever reasons, most of these congregations gradually stopped focusing on the regular practices that are necessary to maintain strength and health. Without the necessary musculature, the bones of these congregations become brittle with a kind of “spiritual osteoporosis.”

Don’t panic. I’m not suggesting that Ronald UMC is weak or flabby. On the contrary, I see a strong, vital, energized body that is eager to grow and serve, and I want to continue to encourage all of you (us) to keep building those healthy spiritual muscles.

For the next five months, I will focus on one of five different “exercises” from Bishop Robert Schnase’s book, “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” I’ll be asking many of you why and how you engage in one or more of these:

  • Radical hospitality
  • Passionate worship
  • Intentional faith development
  • Risk-taking mission and service
  • Extravagant generosity

Each month, I’ll include as many of your responses as I can to help encourage and strengthen all of us. However, you don’t have to wait for a personal invitation. If one or more of those strike a chord for you, send me an email or a note. Tell me why it’s important to you; how you practice it; how it has impacted your life and your faith; or just tell me a story. Since humility is a central characteristic of our faith, it’s ok if you want to tell me about how you see someone else at RUMC engage in one of these practices.

As with most exercise programs, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. People tend to be more successful when they exercise with others. You do not need to consult your physician before starting these spiritual exercises. If these are new to you, start gradually and sensibly, and remember to stretch.

It keeps you flexible.


Pastor Kelly

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