We explore and apply these themes differently each year, but we keep cycling through all of them because each theme focuses on an essential element of discipleship. This particular strategy and most of these themes are based on Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall's landmark project, The Seven Checkpoints, but they are just one more way we are trying to help people become fully devoted and equipped followers of Jesus Christ.
To be authentic, faith must be placed in something that is real and trustworthy, and it also must shape our actions. Each year, we explore why and how we can know that God and His Word can be trusted. We also set clear goals, making sure we are living out and sharing our faith in tangible ways.
Healthy friendships last. They also strengthen every person in the group and help each person become more like Jesus. Each year, we spend some time creating and deepening several healthy, Christ-centered, lasting relationships.
While God can use a variety of tools to reach and mold His people, there are a few timeless, biblical practices act as spiritual power tools to connect us with Him and with others and to transform us from the inside out. Each year, we challenge each other to try all of these and add the most effective ones to our daily lives.
Over the holiday season, we celebrate Christ's physical incarnation and the salvation His birth, life, teaching, death, and resurrection still offers us today. We also focus more than ever on serving as His body on earth now--meeting physical needs, encouraging and comforting those who are hurting, and sharing the gospel in fresh, relevant ways. This is a checkpoint you won't find in The Seven Checkpoints because we have added it.
While God extends grace and love to everyone, His dream was never to simply forgive our sins and allow us to enter heaven when we die. He wants to transform us and empower us to build His kingdom in this world. It is simply impossible to follow Jesus without establishing and living within clear, strategic moral boundaries.
True wisdom begins with fearing God more than anything or anyone else. Biblically speaking, wisdom is much more than just avoiding foolish or sinful choices. Those who are truly wise live life with purpose. They don't just try to not sin; they are always trying to make the best possible choice in every situation.
The scriptures clearly teach us to submit to authority out of reverence for God. Certain kinds of peace, simplicity, fearlessness, and freedom can only be found when we choose to live within the patterns that God designed. Each year, we dig deeper into the intricacy and beauty of those designs.
The most effective way to accomplish God's will on earth is to put others first. When we do this, we almost always find fulfillment and joy ourselves. When we choose to focus on ourselves and try to fit God and others in, we are never satisfied, and we never communicate God's love well.