How do you encourage someone to grow their spiritual life?

The following exercise is from the synchroblog at http://frankviola.org/2012/07/09/gospelforthemiddle

Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of Maine, USA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.

One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.

Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.

Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.

Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.

Recently Fielding asked this question:

When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)

Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.

Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.

Question: If you were Fielding’s cousin, how would you instruct him and his wife the next time you saw them?

I would suggest FIelding’s cousin and his wife should formulate a plan to disciple Fielding and his wife:

  1. Write letters to Fielding and his wife, sharing scripture and encouraging them in their walk with Christ – much as Paul the apostle did.
  2. Encourage Fielding and his wife to listen to sermons on tape/CD by trustworthy people.
  3. Call Fielding and his wife on the phone regularly and sharing Christ.
  4. Pray about find more times per year to visit.
  5. Pray about whether God would have them relocate to where Fielding lives.
  6. Pray God raise up a man to evangelize and disciple people in that area.
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6 Responses

  1. In addition to all of your advice, tell Fielding to get a Bible, if they don’t have one already, and make time for daily Bible readings with his family. Everything he needs to know about God is in the Bible.

    • True, but the reason I didnt is because the situation description states that he doesnt read. I thought it more likely he would read a letter or learn verbally.

      • oops. It would be great if his family could obtain the audio Bible on CD/DVD or cassette tapes and the electronic device needed to listen to them. If this man is truly serious about learning more about God and leading his family into the same relationship, then he will do what is necessary. No more excuses.

        • EXCELLENT idea! Thanks for the input. I agree, the guy and his wife need to grow and ste responsible for their own growth, ultimately.

  2. 1) Does he, (they) call the Christian cousin very often? Perhaps Skype would enable them to develop a closer relationship so the cousin could participate more regularly with encouragement and prayer support.
    2) There are many ministries that provide daily phone calls with prayer support and daily devotions.
    3) There are numerous bibles in Books-on-tape format.
    4) I’ll bet they have T.V. There are Christian TV networks available, TBN, Daystar, etc.
    5) There are numerous DVD series, from children’s stories through adult bible studies.

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