A View from the Pew: New Year’s Resolutions for Churchgoers

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For about three weeks from late December to mid January, our news feeds are filled with challenges to start the new year off right.

We are psychologically and spiritually drawn to opportunities to make a fresh start, and though we tend to make the same pledges year after year, there is value in trying.

Allow me to humbly suggest looking at these resolutions through a different lens.

If your 2016 still has room for resolutions, consider making one or more of the following to improve your involvement in the life of your church:

1. Manage your time better. It’s not that we plan to miss worship or other church activities, it’s that we don’t build our schedules around them. Start by listing your true priorities and then look at your schedule. If you say your relationship with God is the most important part of your life, then make sure your schedule reflects it. Your connection with your church will be strengthened merely by showing up more.

2. Lose Weight. What is it that’s weighing you down and keeping you from fully experiencing the blessing of being part of a family of faith? Maybe you’re caught up in conflict or focused on hypocrisy. This is the year to let it go. Feeling burdened by taking too much ownership of church programs? Reach out for help and don’t try to control so much. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel about your church when you lose those five or ten distractions.

3. Manage your money better. Studies on church giving show that the average contribution committed churchgoers make on a weekly basis is $20. That appears to be the amount that appeases our guilt. Like with your schedule, start by aligning your budget with your priorities. Determine ahead of time what you will give out of your income, then add in extra when you have other influxes of cash. As a former employer of mine used to say, “Don’t give until hurts, give until it feels good. If it hurts you to give an amount, you’re not giving enough!”

4. Enjoy life to the fullest. Enjoying anything is a matter of perspective and attitude. Look for the positive in your church and build on it. No church is perfect, but if you show up regularly and critique the pastor and staff, the worship style, the programming, or the color of the new carpet, you are missing out on potentially life-enriching blessing. If you’re not enjoying your church, stop evaluating your church and re-evaluate your attitude.

5. Stay fit and healthy. Spiritual discipline is work, and it’s not work that can be done by showing up on Sundays and sitting in the pew. Setting aside daily time for reading, reflection, and prayer is the beginning, not the end. Fad diets and the latest exercise craze are not sustainable. It’s about a lifestyle change. Give yourself twenty minutes a day, and your Sundays will be transformed.

6. Learn something new. When was the last time you left church and thought “I didn’t know ________. That’s amazing!” Often, we’re not learning anything new because we’re not listening. We think we know what to expect, so our Bible study becomes a self-fulfilling process, not a revelation. Approach Bible study this year without pre-conceived notions and look at what the text actually says. It will come alive for you in new ways.

7. Quit smoking. It’s time to stop smoldering over old feuds or perceived slights. If every time you scan the sanctuary you do a mental checklist of those against whom you have a grudge, you are only hurting yourself. By extinguishing your smoke, you’ll get a fresh perspective on what God’s call is on your life.

8. Spend more time with family. If your church is anything like mine, there are multiple opportunities to get together outside of worship each week. By plugging in to more of those activities, you will naturally be more connected with your church family, stay updated on their lives, be focused on helping others, and receive care and attention in return. It’s like any relationship. Put the time in, and you will be rewarded with closeness and support.

There you have it, the most popular new year’s resolutions re-imagined from a church perspective. May your year be filled with the blessing of trying and the reward of recommitting to actively participating in God’s work through your local church.

Lance Wallace_for_webLance Wallace is a Baptist layperson who does media relations for the Georgia Institute of Technology. He previously served as Director of Communications with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Lance blogs at newsouthessays.com.

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Comments

  1. Sharon Wallace says:

    Very thought provoking.