Well how did it all start?
Unlike most ideas this came about whilst sitting on the 126 bus to work one morning. I was tweeting as normal and thought about putting a “challenge” out there to anyone who picked it up as just as best you can in 140 letters.
This will hopefully elaborate a lot more in this so hopefully I put in some sort of guidelines for you. This is, of course, not a strict way of taking up this challenge as everyone is different and their searching is also unique.
What is the aim?
The aim of all of this is to get people to take the time to walk in the life of a church for a year and hopefully dispel the myths/rumours and false beliefs that people have about Christianity. Also to, hopefully, help one person to make that step and change their live for the better by becoming a Christian. If one person makes that decision that all the work gone into writing this has done its job.
Trying God for a year… there are many “courses” out there that are good at covering the basics of Christianity and I would never rubbish them at all as what is good for one person may not be good for another, just like I said in a previous paragraph that everyone is different! I would also encourage everyone to get involved into some of the other courses, such as the Alpha course, which is a world known good and proven course. Other courses I would also look into but like everything look into it fully before committing to anything.
How do you start this??
Well there are many ways you can do this, first would be to get yourself a Bible. You do not need a huge expensive one. Just one which you are able to read in a language you can understand, there are many different variants of English out there such as the “Ye Oldie” King James Version (if you like a Shakespeare type of read), the NIV (New International Version, ASV( American Standard version) but do not get all wound out and confused by them all. A good library will have a copy of each and you can flick through and get to grips with the wording of things then you can look at being buying a cheap one from a good Christian bookshop, who will also help you as much as they can to find one you are comfy with!, or if you have a Christian friend then ask them if they have a spare or can help you choose one. It is important you get a bible that you are happy with the style of its writing as you want to be able to understand what you are reading easier than having to tackle every single word. Also you do nto require a large Bible with a lot of commentary and other things in it unless you are interested in understanding things a little deeply during your reading and the background behind it all. Of course this has to be an individual choice!!
Of course you can download the bible free of charge if you have a kindle or a phone that can use it.. Either way I would always have a look at many different “versions” and see which you are able to read the easiest. As we are all different it is not a case of whether or not you are an educated person to which you can read but more of a preference of your style of reading. So do not take it in the wrong way if other people are using a different one to you at all.
Next step would be to find a “Bible believing church” which is not as easy as you think. Yes there are many churches out there that say they are 100% bible believing and preaching every word God says. What I will strongly suggest is that you visit a few churches in your area, of a few denominations (such as Baptist, Methodist, Anglican etc) and see which suits you the best and, most importantly, which challenges your life style in order for it to change to the way God wants you to. Also when you ever hear someone preaching or saying “its in the bible” always read that section and before and after for yourself and take time to think about the message you were hearing and what your understanding into that Scripture tells you. The most important thing is to challenge your current life and make the changes for the better. Of course I would never expect you to change your life over night and, of course no one would expect you to be “perfect” and be able to keep to everything 100% as we are not perfect, If you meet a Christian who says they are either lying or they are Jesus, so just be warned.
All the aim of this is to, like I have mentioned earlier, is to make the changes to your life to enhance it so you can see the real meaning of the life that God has given us and Jesus died for you and the meaning behind it all. Life as a Christian is not an easy life but with our Faith it is a lot easier to deal with as we are fully aware why things happen and for what reason, also with God behind us we can and will overcome it all. Hopefully you will see this to the fullest effect over this next year or praying even longer!
There will never be a “perfect” church out there at all, so please do nto expect it. Just like you and I those who are in church and those who preach and work for the church are not perfect either. We are all on the same journey to just be better people for God and try each and every day to do His work and to please Him.
Of course this first bit will never be as smooth as we all want it as it does take time but it is an important step as is everything else you do in the process of this whole situation.
What to read?
The Bible contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 26 in the New (Old is before Jesus and new is Jesus onwards..) and can be a huge and complicated matter when you first pick it up as to “What to read!!!!” Regardless of who you ask a lot of us will have our own views on what is the best to read first..
Most Christians would say always read one, if not all, of the “Gospels”. They are the first 4 books of the New Testament (Usually found ¾ the way through the Bible). I have had it suggested to me that the first gospel to read is “Mark” (2nd book in the New Testament) as it gives a good outline.
Do not worry if you are unable to understand everything in one go as there is no one out there who knows the Bible inside out, most Christians will have “their view/theology” on it, which is not to say they are wrong at all but always read it for yourself and pray on what you are reading. This is to ask God to help you to understand what He wants you to at this moment in time. It is always good to pray before you do any reading of the Bible and ask God to help you understand and try to allow Him to help you. If you don’t allow yourself to be helped then it’s like trying to push an elephant up a hill with a straw when its asleep. Always also remember to take everything you read into the context of what is before and after it as it is, as you may be aware or heard that Christians always quote just one thing from the Bible and that’s it. Well yes it may be in there but only a full understanding and meaning may be gotten by reading what is written before and after it. This same thing can be applied to any written information as well.
Other books of the Bible which I would say are a good starting point , after Mark, would be Acts (5th book in New Testament) which gives you the “Acts of the Apostles”
I would never say as soon as you step into a church you will have your life changed straight away, yes its possible, but its rare.. What the aim of this is to get you to regularly attend a church, get the feel of the welcome and family feel in there. Get yourself involved with the life of the church as well by offering to help with whatever the church is doing to help the community. I know our church has several things within it that are outside the “Sunday service”. Such as a mens group whereby men can sit and be open with issues of life and encourage each other, ladies groups which help the ladies in the same way. We have a soup kitchen to help the homeless once a week with a hot meal and there are many others. Of course you wont be able or feel comfy doing all of them so pick and choose which one/two etc you are able to help and get stuck in. Every church will have different things on different days so take the time to look, ask and of course pray over which is something you feel you can help out with. A lot of churches will do things just for the sake of helping others but there are some churches out there that do things and then brag/boast about it which is not really a Christian thing to do as we all work for God and, as you go through out the year, you will see that the whole mission of Jesus was to help others. He did not stand there shouting “Hey man, I fed 5,000 and I ROCK!! “
I came about being in the church I attend on a very “weird” way from just walking through the door and sitting down.. I was hit by a car just up the road from the church and several weeks later send an email into a Christian TV show asking for a bible believing church where I live and got 1 reply… So my wife and I went there 2 weeks later, when I was able to walk on my crutches and hobbled through the door.
That’s the short story of it all and maybe later on through this I will share the miracles that were behind it further.
Who knows maybe the “miracle” of finding your church is by accepting this “challenge” and trying God for a year!!! You may even look back on it 20-30 years from now and laugh at all of this and think to yourself “if it wasn’t for that through a guy had on a bus one day I would never have found God, let alone changed lives and even, maybe, bought others to find God as well!!” It can happen!!
I would never say anything is beyond happening as God works in way that we are unable to understand.
I know I am probably saying some of the things you have heard before and they might have put you off going to church, God and or Christianity, but let me first of all say that I have been in the same shoes on this instance!!!
I was put off “God” when I was a child due to a lot of family issues and the lack of help from the church, but it is not the same church I am part of now and I do see that what happened to my family in that church when I was a child was not a God driven church and what they were teaching was not from the Bible either!! It has taken me many years to get over this and take the step to be even near a church let alone to the place where I am now and what I am doing.
I am not a preacher nor am I someone who has been a Christian for very long, looking at the length of my life so far, nor am I a well educated person but what I do is I write from my heart which is why something I may have written does not make total sense and/or appear I am babbling!! I feel that writing with emotion and not just to say “you must you must you must” in a robotic way is not me!
So just hang on in there and hopefully things will be made clear.
Being a Christian is not just a “Sunday thing” its something we all try to live everyday, and sometimes we do fall down as we are not perfect.
When I first made the decision to change my life to be a Christian it was tough change I wont deny it. Its not an easy thing to do but its all about looking at the bigger picture in what you are trying to achieve and the “finish line”. Simple things like changing my language use from swearing to not (well trying), getting drunk to cutting down and enjoying maybe just 1 and many other things…. “These are things I have chosen to do as far as I see its something Jesus wouldn’t have done or would do if He was next to me.. The gospels do not tell of Jesus using swearing words or being a drunk and as it is the aim” for all Christians to be “like Jesus as best as we can” then this is my aim!! Of course it will be an ongoing thing every day and things of this world will make me trip up but then that’s what prayer is for as well, to ask for forgiveness and admit my mistake. Its not about beating myself up constantly about it at all.
Everyone is different so my issues I have been through and changed to get to this point in my life are and maybe not the same as yours but hopefully through me writing this and you “Give God a year” will help you to make the changes and you will see the benefits in your life and your outlook on things.
Well that’s the church and a brief look into church life done… May touch on church life later on through this!!
What to expect??
First of all do not expect miracles to happen every single day or time you enter church.. it may do but generally wont!.. Miracles that you may not, and probably wont, see will happen within you every day. With your constant trying to change your life for this year, the way you look at things, the way you speak to others and generally your outlook on life you, like I said earlier, will look back on it and say I can see it now.. I know I have said it to myself many many times!! It’s like a huge bucket being filled with sand one grain at a time. If you watch it you wont see the change straight away but if you leave it and change your focus and go back to look at it you will see an increase in the sand. Same with you if you focus on your change you wont see if but if you focus on helping others, for instance, and then months down the line look at how your has changed.
Also do not go into a church “expecting” this that and the other as said earlier that every church is different and things happen differently but if you see things happen that you feel are weird then step back and look into it a little more.