Read & Grow / How to be a Christian without Going to Church

FI Christian Without Church

Surf to Google. Type the phrase “Can I be a Christian…” into the search box. Helpful as ever, Google will start suggesting popular queries. The top search?

“Can I be a Christian without going to church?”

This is a question people are asking. They are asking it a lot.

I’m a Pastor’s Kid who grew up in Church World1. Growing up, I knew there were people who asked this question, but it was always for bad reasons.

They didn’t want accountability. They didn’t want to quit their bad behavior. They didn’t want people to know they were Christians. That meant they were “ashamed of the Gospel.” The idea that people could become Christians without becoming like us made no sense. One of the things that defined us was gathering together weekly for worship and service. That was church.

Fast forward more than three decades, and Kelly Bean’s (Website / Facebook / Twitter) new book hits the shelves with a pot-stirring title: How to be a Christian Without Going to Church. The sub-title? The unofficial guide to alternative forms of Christian community.

So, what have we come to? Were my childhood assumptions true? Are Christians wanting out of accountability, community, and mission? Are they just wanting to be like the culture around them? Slope-sliding into a world of grey standards and compromise? Is this “unofficial guide” a handbook for Christianity light?

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How a $280 Treadmill Desk helped me be more intentional.

FI Make Goals Easy

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Those are J.R.R. Tolkien’s words, in the mouth of Gandalf. They also perfectly describe the intentional life.

You’ve got a certain amount of time. It happens to be exactly the same amount as the people around you: 24 hours in a day. You have hopes and goals. The most important tool you have for reaching for those goals is your time. How you spend it matters. In fact, this is the chief difference between you and the people you see reaching their goals. They spend their time differently than you do.

The problem, of course, is that some things are fun or easy or have an immediate pay-off. Then there are things that are hard, or slow, or don’t seem to make an immediate difference.  In many cases it is that second category that move you toward your goals.

The intentional life is really about setting yourself up for success in getting those hard things done. Here’s one example. I have two goals that are important to me. Both require hard work. I needed something that would help smooth that uphill climb for me. Craigslist and $280 gave me the answer I needed.

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Weekend Wisdom / Living with Open Hands

FI Index Weekend Wisdom

The first thing generosity brings to mind is giving — giving of time, or money. Talking about giving in church is notoriously awkward.  The conversation is usually laced with oughts and shoulds, and focuses on obligation and obedience. But that’s a stunning misunderstanding of the point.  Our attitude toward giving is a direct window into our faith and our fear.  And if we want to grow in our trust for God, we can start by practicing giving.

This is the 2nd presentation in the series, “A Generous Life.”

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Hey busy person, how do you remember God?

FI Something To Help You Remember
I'm so distractable. Learning how to remember is a big part of my spiritual growth.  Photo Credit: Flood G

I’m so distractable. Learning how to remember is a big part of my spiritual growth. Photo Credit: Flood G

Did you ever tie a string around your finger to remember something? Not sure why, but that was a common solution in books I read as a child. I tried it once. All I got was a purple finger.

Since childhood I’ve been distractable. Maybe it’s undiagnosed ADD, or just the fruit of a very busy mind and a performance-orientation. I’m not sure. Urgent things grab my mind.

No matter how important my other goals are, the urgent things always seem to win.

This has proven to be a hurdle in my spiritual life. It’s important to me to connect with God throughout the day. My level of peace and happiness is always better when I do. Yet the urgent things around me never fail to keep my mind pre-occupied.

Of course this means another day slips into the past, and I spent it with my heart and mind fully occupied with the urgent. This is not who I want to be. It’s not who you want to be either.

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Is Spiritual Growth in the Middle of Busyness Possible?

FI Too Busy to Grow

Busyness is the enemy of spiritual growth. Busyness is a trap, mindset, a wall of self-defence, an addiction. Busyness is about lack of focus and confused priorities. At least that’s what they say. Surely there’s something true about all of that.

But what about those times when life is just full, full of commitments and obligations and unexpected requirements that you can’t do anything about? What then?

Is it just impossible for a single mom with three kids to be spiritual? Is it an unreasonable expectation for a guy trying to take care of his family, support a hurting friend, and run a business to have a real and on-going relatonship with God? Is the only answer to go on a retreat?

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