In Christian circles, people sometimes ask one another, “How did you become a Christian?” It’s not a bad question of course, but I find that the question can reflect a specific way of thinking about the Christian faith. What I am referring to is the over-prioritization of the salvation moment.
In the church today, and especially in the evangelical church, there is a strong emphasis on “getting saved,” also known as “being born again,” or also known as “saying the sinner’s prayer.” And that emphasis is mostly good. I believe that it is necessary for people to experience a transition–from being enemies of God to being friends of God, from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive, from walking in sin to walking in good works.
Nonetheless, sometimes this salvation moment can be over-prioritized. There are many people who “got saved” decades ago, but they are exactly the same today as they were the day they got saved. There is no growth. And to them, it doesn’t matter, because the important thing is that at one point in time they “got saved.”
A man doesn’t get married at a wedding ceremony just so that he could stay the same. A man gets married so that he can enter into a marriage. The ceremony is just the beginning of a lifelong marriage.
The Christian life is the same. We don’t “get saved” just so that we can be the same. We “get saved” so that we can enter into the Christian life. Salvation is just the beginning of a lifelong process of spiritual growth, of becoming more like Jesus.
So instead of asking, “How did you become a Christian?”, I usually like to ask, “What are some spiritual milestones in your life?”
What this question implies is that the Christian life is not embodied by a single instant at one point in time. Rather, we are always growing. We are always being challenged. We are always moving forward. Sometimes we move quickly, and sometimes we move slowly. But we are always on the move.
For me, a lot of my spiritual milestones happened at retreats. I think of a winter youth retreat I attended in 12th grade. I think of a Christian conference I attended in my junior year of college. I think of a pastors retreat that I attended last year. All of those experiences shaped me in a new and refreshing ways. They gave me new insights and revelations. They served as tangible anchors representing God’s presence in my life. And they caused me to grow.
I am confident that a large part of who I am today was determined by what I experienced at those retreats.
Is there something especially mystical about going on a retreat? No, not really. But there is something tangibly powerful about being away from the distractions and burdens of the normal routines of life just for a few days, and to be laser-focused alongside other Christian brothers and sisters on being wholly devoted to God. And I’ve seen over and over and over that God shows up big at retreats.
If you haven’t heard already, our upcoming fall retreat is happening October 25-27, Friday night to Sunday morning, and the registration deadline is Sunday, September 22. Pastor George Hopkins (one of the most friendly people and one of the most dynamic speakers I’ve ever met) will be our main speaker. If you need financial assistance, let us know by emailing us.
At the fall retreat, we will be spending time with God without distraction and making friends out of strangers. It’s a beautiful opportunity to pray, to learn, to engage, to breathe, to rest, to worship, and to grow. I encourage you to step out in faith and prayer, count the cost, and come with us!
Learn more and sign up at www.villagechurchhampden.com/fallretreat.