“I triple dog dare ya.”
Doubtless, you’re familiar with the scene from the classic movie “A Christmas Story.”
Ralphie explained: “Now, Schwartz created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the triple dare and going right for the throat…. Flick’s spine stiffened. His lips curled in a defiant sneer. There was no going back now.”
The scene closes with a boy stuck by his tongue to a frozen pole crying for help.
There’s something about dares, isn’t there? We might pretend we’ve outgrown it. But, let’s be honest, a good challenge has some pull.
That’s why A God-Lived Life stewardship challenge is designed the way it is. It is designed to challenge God’s people to live the life to which he has called them. The hope is that being challenged in specific ways will urge them on to a closer walk with God and a life of love toward others.
A God-lived Life lasts for four months. Each month is kicked off by a special “God-Lived Life” Sunday with a sample sermon, worship helps, and a Bible study which are followed by a month’s worth of devotions for weekly emails or meetings. On that special “God-Lived Life” Sunday, members get a chance to commit to challenges they want to take on for the next four weeks. For example, the first month is understanding that a “God-Lived Life” is a life lived as a disciple, so people can choose to challenge themselves to do things a disciple does. Some of the challenges connect people to the community of believers, like “attending Sunday morning Bible Study every Sunday this month,” or “connecting on Zoom to four midweek Bible Studies.” Some of the challenges are fulfilled personally, like “having family devotion at least three times a week this month” or “reading my Bible for 15 minutes each day.” Since they are only committing to one month of activity, these things we all want to do and know we should be doing become a little more doable. Lord willing, as he works in people’s hearts and they experience the blessings of these activities, they will continue in them. As my congregation piloted A God-Lived Life this past year, we saw it do that. We saw people excited for opportunities to use who they were in God’s service. We saw people appreciative of the variety of ways to live out their callings. That’s what the monthly challenges gave them.
One interesting aspect of the program is the opportunity for the leaders of the congregation to come up with their own challenges. The program provides a list of ideas, but you’ll be challenged to come up with your own as well. The discussions and brainstorming among leaders can produce a broader congregational buy-in as they come up with some great opportunities for people to do the kinds of things they want to do because Christ’s love lives in them. For our congregation, a food drive for the homeless shelter made sense because there was a real need right in our backyard and we could demonstrate that a God-lived life was a “Life lived for Others.” With people struggling for connectedness through Covid, “A Life of Hospitality” showed as members committed to connecting with those who were shut-in to encourage them each week that month. With the purchase of new hymnals right around the corner, we could exercise “A Life Lived Shrewdly” by sacrificing something to participate in our “Christmas Gift for God’s House” which went toward our pre-order. When given the opportunity, God’s people stepped up to the challenges.
Will you? Or, as Schwartz asked in the movie, “Are you chicken?” Seriously though, I challenge you to take advantage of all the free resources designed to bless you and your congregation. Challenge your people to be what God has made them, to be more of what they want to be. Do it. I triple dog dare ya.
Rev. Jonathan Scharf
Abiding Grace, Covington GA
This blog anticipates the May release of A God-Lived Life congregational stewardship challenge.
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