I’ve just finished reading and re-skimming the book The Diving Mentor by Wayne Cordiero, a pastor on Oahu. It is perhaps the best and simplest book on the why’s and the how’s of personal devotional time. If I can be honest, it is in this area that I have had one of my biggest struggles. Being a pastor I already spend so much time in the word. It does speak to me, it does change me, but most of the time I’m thinking, “How can I communicate this to others?” It needs to speak to me, it needs to teach me before I can teach it to others. It is this cool opportunity I have to spend so much time in the word that actually makes personal devotions one of the most challenging things for me.
Wayne believes in this area so much that he has done some things to equip his own church in this area in such a way that it has made a tremendous impact on every dynamic of the life of his church, and in the individual lives of those who are participating. They created what they call “Life Journals” with the goal of making people into “self feeders”. Imagine if you ate only once a week, on Sunday mornings. You would be in miserable physical shape. Yet how many people function like this in their spiritual lives? We need to be self-feeders, eating regularly.
The plan is simple. There is a through-the-Bible-in-a-year reading schedule, and a simple pattern to follow in a journal. SOAP – Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. After doing your reading (takes on average 20 minutes) you pick one or a couple of verses that really stood out to you, not worrying so much about other stuff that might have confused you. You write out those verses (the S). You then make a couple of basic observations, why it stood out to you (the O). Then write out how you intend to incorporate that dynamic into your life (the A) followed by a short written out prayer (the P). At the end you give the day’s entry a title that sums up what you wrote, and put that title in a table of contents at the front of your journal. This way you can look back over the year and see what the Lord has been teaching you.
Wayne’s ministry has made pre-done journals with blanks to fill in, but you can also follow the basic model in any old notebook or journal. Maybe it was just me, but this book and this process really spoke to me. It seemed to take legalism and work out of doing devotions.
Another thing they do is called Life Groups which follow a pattern of 20/20/20. These aren’t so much small groups for the sake of discipleship, but they are a great auxiliary and a good source of accountability. Basically, you get together with a few other people on a semi-regular basis at a coffee shop or something, and do your devos together. You spend 20 minutes, reading, 20 minutes journaling, and 20 minutes sharing with one another what you discovered that session. It isn’t a teaching time, just a review with one another. Sounds very cool.
Here is a website where you can actually do the journalling thing online and participate with others. http://www.lifejournal.cc/ You can also order journals and reading schedule bookmarks. They have some very cool stuff. I’m already going to order stuff for folks in the church.
Some churches just do some things really well. To me, Wayne has it going on in this area. I just thought I’d share it with you all. The idea of having a church full of people who are self-feeders is a very attractive idea.