If Participating in a Church Group Is Not the Main Part of a Christian Life, What Is?
To many people, it seems pointless to try to make a significant impact on the world by themselves. If they are going to accomplish something for Christ, they believe they need to join with many others so they can preach the Gospel effectively in a "big work". But this is completely contrary to New Testament teaching! None of the New Testament writers talk about "getting enough believers together to preach the Gospel effectively". Those who preached were those who were called to preach, and they did it whether the people supported them or not. When the number of believers increased, they rejoiced because there were more people living the right way of life—not because they would now be able to "do a work".
What can an individual do if he or she is alone or in a small group? Everyone should do the following things:
1. Love the Eternal with all your heart. Treat others as you would want to be treated. These are the greatest commands.
2. Study the Bible and pray frequently. Practice those things that you understand from the Scripture.
3. Be ready to explain your life in Christ to anyone who asks.
But is that all there is to it? Are we only to quietly develop the fruit of the Spirit and then just hope someone notices? No, there is more. What we do will depend upon the spiritual and physical gifts that we have, and our position in life. Obviously, you should pray and ask the Eternal to show you. But to help you, we have included some ideas below:
Many teens see the adult problems of the world—wars, disease, divorce, lying, hypocrisy, etc.—but feel powerless to do much about them because "they are not adults yet". This is generally true with one big exception: a teenager has a greater opportunity to influence his or her own life than people in almost any other age group. Choices in these years can make the difference beween a loving life or a miserable mess.
Excelling at school work, sports, music, or other interests is solid preparation for the future. Teens can seek opportunities to travel and meet new people. Try to get any kind of real work experience, even if it is just "training" without pay—stores, offices, construction, day-care, landscaping, restaurants, janitorial, etc. Most people spend their lives working for someone else—it is good to start learning to work early in life, rather than later.
At this age, establishing habits of regular prayer, Bible study, good diet, sufficient sleep and respect for others will be invaluable throughout life. Learn to pray through trouble rather than fight—especially when others are mistreating you. Spend time with people of the opposite sex, but remain sexually pure to avoid the diseases and divorces that plague so many people today. Learn not to be ashamed of God and being different in order to live His way. Talk about Him to those who ask.
Around the end of the teen years, each person should repent, accept Christ’s sacrifice for their sins, and be baptized—commit their entire life to serving the Eternal.
Young Single Adults
The teen-year goals should continue into the young adult years, but now work or full-time school is "for real". It is always good to better oneself at a current job, or prepare for a more advanced one. Money should not be the ultimate goal in life, but it is very helpful for raising a family or serving the Eternal. Young adult years are a good time to fulfill travel and other goals that will be much more difficult with a family.
This is also a good time for each person to think and pray about which spiritual gifts they have and what they can do to serve. If someone has dedicated their life to God, they should be doing something more significant for Him than attending a service or study for a few hours per week. At this age, you will probably be "doing things" more than organizing, managing or teaching, but follow where the Eternal leads. Older people are often hesitant to ask younger people, not knowing their desire or skill. If a fellowship is holding a public meeting, a younger person can volunteer to help with the advertising mailing, setup the chairs, clean the hall when it is over, prepare refreshments for the meeting—according to your abilities. If your volunteer offer is rejected, do not give up, keep trying.
Those who are not able to serve the Eternal with a significant portion of their time, can do so with their money. Be sure that any ministry you contribute to is doing the kind of work that you believe the Eternal wants done.
Married adults must continue in the above aspects, and take time to make a good marriage, also. Numerous scriptures mention a successful family life as the requirement for congregational leadership positions. It is a mistake to "serve God so much" that family life is destroyed.
Married people have many service opportunities that are simply not available to others. Most people will be comfortable if invited to their homes, they can encourage or counsel others about marriage and child-rearing problems, and they will naturally interact with the community as their children make friends. Married people have the built-in evangelistic responsibility of teaching their children—the principles of which can sometimes be extended to the outside world.
Older and/or Single Adults
As people grow older, their gifts change. They often are less able to do physical work, and better able to lead and guide others. After children leave home, and especially after retirement, older adults often have a lot of discretionary time. Long-time single adults also sometimes have a lot of discretionary time—they do not have a family to care for, and their job and dwelling place is often efficiently managed.
Many use this time to devote to study, hobbies, or entertainment. This is a good time to seek the Eternal’s will and see if there is some kind of ministry that He wants you to perform. It may be helping the poor, teaching the young, or conducting a Bible study.
Each person will be rewarded according to their works. We need to work for our Father, before our bodies are too frail to work. —Norman S. Edwards
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