It was such a blessing to receive your note and to hear that you’ve decided to follow Christ! Sometimes it takes many years for those Sunday school stories to ring true, doesn’t it? It touched me to hear your gratitude for the Bible I sent and how it challenged you to get right with God.
You asked for a few practical tips on living the Christian life. It means a lot to me that you’d ask. I completely understand how busy you are and how it’s daunting to add this new thing into an already-packed life. And yes, man-made religious rules have a way of taking the joy out of even the best things. Thankfully, God does not mean to burden us, but to bless us. So let me offer a few tips on living your new life as a follower of Christ.
I’m sure you remember your parents teaching you the importance of a daily quiet time. It really is crucial that you build the habit of getting with God every day, but this doesn’t need to take a lot of time. I already sent you an easy-to-read translation of the Bible that does a great job of explaining what the biblical authors meant by what they wrote. What you might want to do now is buy a devotional book that will help you really streamline your quiet time. There are lots of options meant to help you have a meaningful time with the Lord in just a few minutes. Perhaps get the Men’s Five-Minute Devotional or even the CEO’s Five-Minute Devotional since it was written for people just like you. They will give you something to think about through the day and also suggest one or two things you might pray about.
Then there’s church to consider, and I know you’re already looking for one in your neighborhood. I’ve got four tips about that.
First, find a church that really suits you and your family. Maybe you can sit down with your wife and the children and put together a list of things you’d like to have in your dream church: a dynamic preacher, an exciting youth program, a contemporary service style—maybe even a gym or coffee shop. That will help you narrow the search.
Second, try to find a church that offers a Saturday evening service, since it sounds like that might be a more convenient option for you than Sunday morning. You aren’t the only family with a Sunday that’s already packed full! That’s why a lot of churches—big churches, at least—now offer a Saturday evening option. Church doesn’t have to be a major inconvenience.
Third, remember that it doesn’t make you a better Christian to go to all the other services and programs. At some point you will probably sense pressure to go to that Wednesday evening prayer service. If you feel called to go, then go! But the fact is, God burdens and gifts certain people to pray more than others. If that’s not your burden or gifting, then don’t feel you ought to attend. The same is true for the men’s meetings, small groups, and other events.
Fourth, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t attend church every week. I know how tough it is with work, family, children, and all the other things in life. Let me give you a pro tip: Block off a weekend once or twice a year to attend a men’s retreat or conference. These are amazing times for spiritual growth. It takes a bit of planning and there’s a bit of a cost, but the pay-off is huge. If church is the normal dinner you eat every day, a conference is like treating yourself to a meal at a fine steakhouse.
I hope that helps you find a suitable church. One of the great benefits of living in suburbia is you tend to have lots of options. I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that’s just right for you.
Of course, we also need to talk about money. I know it’s kind of an awkward subject, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t address it. You mentioned that you want to start giving something to the church. God’s done so much for you that it’s only right you give something back! But remember that the Bible doesn’t mandate how much to give. The tithe (that whole ten percent thing) is an Old Testament edict from the era of law and doesn’t apply to this era of grace. Jesus has set us free to give what we feel led to give. My advice is to get in the habit of giving a bit every week or month, but to hold some back so you can respond if there is a special collection or a building drive. Also, God knows you’re at a really expensive time of life right now—kids playing sports, getting braces, and going off to college—so do your best for now and commit to giving more in the future. That’s just wise financial planning.
I’m sure more will come to mind in the future, so I may send you another note in a week or two. But for now, I hope these tips are able to get you started on this new adventure.
I hate to defile this article with an explanation, but in an era of skimming, I think it’s probably necessary to point out that this is satire. It may not be good satire, but it’s at least an attempt. So please don’t send me an angry Letter to the Editor until you’ve read it in that light.