Part 2 of 4

What do we expect of TPC members?

Studies have shown that when certain expectations are set, it helps others develop their own group of rules and boundaries. It gives a sense of accountability to others, and creates goals for which to strive. In this series, I’ll discuss what the expectations are that go along with membership in Tuskawilla Presbyterian Church. The second is spiritual growth and faith.

This focus of this expectation is centered on our personal spiritual growth and a general sense of our faith.

The expectation is that we participate in at least one activity each year, apart from worship attendance, aimed at helping us grow spiritually and in our faith. This can take many forms:

  • Sunday school participation
  • a Bible study
  • reading the Bible at home
  • attending retreats
  • participating in the one-time or short-term classes that we offer
  • serving others

Oftentimes we incorrectly associate the greatest spiritual moments as being the only times in our life where God was present.There are a myriad of ways in which we can be active in or participate in at least one spiritual activity a year. But you don’t have to limit it to only one activity either. Certainly you can and should participate in more if you want to and are able, but the bar is set for a minimum of at least one each year.

When considering the ways in which we can both grow spiritually and in our faith, we first recognize that, like all of God’s precious children, we are each different, unique and special. Some methods and processes may work better for some more than they do for others. Beyond those options listed and methods propagated by the church, there are also many other methods and practices that people have used to grow spiritually.

One particularly effective spiritual method I have used is a historical method called examen, where you take some time toward the end of the day to reflect on the moments that happened (big or small) that you felt God’s presence, or felt connected to God or felt your sense of purpose or calling in life was fulfilled. If you get in the daily habit of doing this, at some point in time in the evening or night, where quiet can be and reflection can be accomplished; then you slowly develop a way to recognize God’s presence throughout the day and in your life.

Oftentimes we incorrectly associate the greatest spiritual moments (or mountaintop experiences, as some might refer to them) as being the only times in our life where God was present. However, with an enhanced and growing spirituality, we can recognize and see God in the everyday moments of our lives.

One of the main challenges of spirituality is that it is not easily quantifiable. Meaning, at times, it’s difficult to measure and gauge how full our spiritual tank is. We cannot simply affirm that “yes, my spiritual tank is indeed full, and I should be good for a while.” Or, “my tank is about a quarter empty and I might only be able to make it another four months on what I have left.”

While this is indeed challenging and perhaps a bit frustrating to some, there are certain ways we can tell if, in fact, our spirituality has grown. For instance, we can ask ourselves: Do we feel closer to God? Do we feel that we have a sense of purpose and meaning in life? Do we feel prepared enough or solid enough that we could handle whatever foundational or life-changing tragedy or event we might experience in life?

If your answers to these questions aren’t fully satisfying, I hope you’ll feel motivated enough to participate in at least one activity meant to help you grow in that department. Then, one day, when you encounter moments of trial and tribulation, or even moments of joy, you will see and feel God’s presence and you will feel prepared enough to persevere through all of life’s ups and downs—and all of those extra steps will have been well worth it.