Today Connie Wininger shares her reflections on this guiding principle. Connie enjoys singing and is part of the choir at RL.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” – John 8:31. Last May, Pastor Lecia asked me to join a small group to explore ways to deepen our faith. Since I’d been questioning my faith and doubting my own commitment to the church, I said yes. Our small group of six called a Huddle (a training group for discipleship) embarked on a journey of sharing and growing through Bible study and by reading Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen. We began to learn what it means to be a disciple and how faith and God are a part of our lives. It became more apparent to me that being a Christian wasn’t just about showing up to church every Sunday. To grow in my faith, I would have to challenge myself to do more every day. I decided to set aside time daily to pray. Before I only did this when I needed something or was at church. Secondly, I dusted off my Bible and began reading it during my daily devotional time. I was pleasantly surprised that this 15-minute routine brought a calm to my day. As I spent more time reading the scripture, I realized I needed to actively practice the teaching of Jesus in my everyday life. I continued to attend our weekly Huddle meetings where we continued to discuss our faith and how we could become disciples. I began to think about what it meant to follow God’s teaching. I asked myself what I could I do every day to live a Christian life. To be successful, I decided that I needed to simplify things for myself. I decided I needed to be kind, tolerant, non- judgmental and humble. Sometimes, it’s not always easy to follow these principles but I’ve found the more I practice these principles the easier it is. I grew up in a household that rarely attended church, so I thought I really didn’t have a Christian upbringing. I’ve realized that really wasn’t true. My father lived by Christian principals and taught me by example the importance of a moral life. He was always willing to help a neighbor, family member or stranger in need never expecting anything in return. I am continuing to strive to be kinder in my everyday life and less judgmental. This is a struggle sometimes, but what I’ve learned in my Huddle group is that God does not expect us to be perfect. Being a disciple is a continuous growth process. Jesus called us to be disciples and to go out and share our faith with others. Being a disciple involves being more outward with your faith. It involves working in your community and helping others to be faithful. This has been a struggle for me as I tend to be private about my faith and life. Opening to others makes us feel vulnerable. I continue to ask God for guidance on how I can be better at this. I’ve learned that sometimes we must get out of our comfort zone in order to grow within our faith and our church. The Huddle group has given me a safe place be more open in discussing my faith. Jesus challenged the first disciples to travel a difficult road. Even today, I have discovered the road to discipleship is not an easy one to travel but well worth the journey.