7 Healthy Habits
At Gateway, we believe spiritual growth and transformation occur as we grow UP towards God in worship, IN towards others in community and OUT towards the world in service. As the circle demonstrates, this is not a linear process of steps but rather an ongoing pattern of growth as we seek to grow as disciples of Jesus -- as long as we are breathing, our work of growth is never complete!
UP towards God in worship
Through experience we have found that there are two important life habits that facilitate growth towards God in worship:
1. Use resources with Wisdom and Purpose
As followers of Jesus, we recognize that peace and happiness are found in God and not in material possessions. We also realize that all we have physically, spiritually and emotionally, is a gift from God. Therefore, as an act of obedience and an expression of gratitude, we want to use our finances, time and energy to honor God and serve the community.
(Deuteronomy 8:1-20; Psalm 24:1; Malachi 3:10; 1 John 2:15-17; Matthew 6:19-21, 24; 2 Corinthians 9:6-13; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:28; James 1:17)
2. Practice Creative devotion
As followers of Jesus, we delight in God and His presence in our lives. In response to our relationship with God, we experience broken-heartedness over sin and joy over God's character and grace. Therefore, we will seek to practice spiritual disciplines daily as a means of participating in life in Christ. These disciplines especially center on praying and studying Scripture. Time spent in this manner enables us to welcome God into every part of our lives. We also commit to gathering weekly for corporate worship. (Psalm 119:11; Matthew 5:3-12; John 4:23-24; Romans 12:11; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Timothy 2:4-7, 15)
The disciplines of pursing an active relationship with God
Pursuing an active relationship with God will require that we invest us in some important routines. These routines help us build the vocabulary of praise. Three of these are worth mentioning.
First, the pursuit of an active relationship with God will involve a weekly gathering with the whole church. This happens for us on Sunday mornings. Our Sunday morning experience always includes lots of singing because singing engages our whole person: mind, heart, and will. And worship, at its core, is a whole person exercise.
We also dig into a passage from the Bible each week because we believe the Bible is our design manual. In addition, we offer communion about once a month. This is an important symbol of Jesus’ death and an important worship exercise. Occasionally, testimonies (personal stories of faith) or videos are shared that emphasize some part of our worship.
Secondly, this pursuit will involve personal Bible Study. At one point, the Psalmist says, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”(Psalm 119:11) Knowing God and being more like Him grows out of on an investment in His Word. God’s character, His desires, His responses and His ways are all revealed to us through the story of His interaction with His people in His Word. Joining in reading our Deeper Wider plan can be a great way to develop this habit.
Thirdly, pursuing an active relationship with God depends on prayer. Prayer is conversation with God. We do not build a relationship with anyone without talking with him or her. God is no exception. This is so critically important that the Bible tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
IN towards others in community
Through experience we have found that there are two important life habits that facilitate growth towards others in community:
3. Invest in community
As followers of Jesus, we seek to invest ourselves in community so that our corporate life reflects the very life and glory of God. Such an investment means that we will imitate the humility and servanthood of Christ by looking not only to our own interests but also to the interests of those around us. Therefore, we will endeavor to understand our spiritual gifts and use them to contribute to the life of the body. Specifically, we will invest in a Group and serve in an area of need, such as a team at Gateway. (John 13: 13-16; John 14:26; John 17: 20-23; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:3-6; Philippians 2:1-11; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 4:10)
4. Nourish others out of Personal Purity and Wholeness
As followers of Jesus, we seek to make relationship-building a priority. However, our own sin has blocked our ability to relate in meaningful and/or beneficial ways. Before we can relate to others in a godly way, we, ourselves must pursue healing. Therefore, we will seek to respond to the effects of God’s grace in our lives by moving toward personal healing, wholeness and purity with courage and honesty. Among other things, we will pursue sexual purity as a reflection of God’s heart and respect for other people. We will seek a growing, healthy interdependence with others and seek restoration of broken and harmed relationships. (Ephesians 4:3; 5:8; Matthew 18:15-20; Colossians 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 7)
OUT towards the world in service
Through experience we have found that there are three important life habits that facilitate growth towards the world in service:
5. Open Our lives to People in Need
As followers of Jesus, God has met our spiritual, emotional and physical needs. Because God has moved on our behalf, we know that He will work on behalf of others. Therefore, we will seek to open our lives to those in need so that we can be part of God’s provision. In order to be God’s co-laborer, we will seek to grow in our ability to recognize where God is at work and what God’s calling is for us. We will seek to serve and spread the Gospel both locally and globally. (Acts 2:42-47; Ephesians 2:8-10; Colossians 2:2-3; Matthew 4:19; 28:19-20)
6. Uplift God’s character
As followers of Jesus, God’s grace has upset our lives in ways that are wonderful and surprising. As a result of our unsettling encounter with Him, we have been changed to more perfectly reflect God. Therefore, we will seek to center our life around the Gospel, which has the power to penetrate past defenses and change hearts and lives. Specifically, we will strive to live in a way that reflects God’s character and exhibits the implications of His grace, especially in the areas of holiness and simplicity. (Genesis 1:26-27; Matthew 5:1-12; 9:9-13; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 8:16-18; 1 Peter 2:11-12)
7. Tell others about Christ
As followers of Jesus, it is our purpose in life to show others, through words and actions, God’s plan of salvation. Specifically, we strive to care about, pray for and serve others daily. In order to tell others, we must grow in our understanding of God’s story revealed in Scripture. We must also recognize how God has called us and what He has done in our lives (i.e., be able to share our story with others). (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 1:17-18; Luke 10:1-3; Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:28)