Spiritual development is an integral part of faith.
“For us, as Lutherans, that is done through worship, prayer, bible study and service,” says Bob Pudell, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and school, in Crystal Lake. “Especially during Lent we look at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. That compels us to serve others. It’s not ‘serving others to save myself.’ It’s ‘serving others because I’m already saved.’”
Two key words are connection and relationship, adds Pudell. “Some don’t fully understand who God is. As they talk to friends and ask questions they begin to get an idea. From there you feel a little more comfortable and you start praying. Our definition of prayer is just having a conversation with God.”
That is where the relationship begins, adds Pudell. “Like when you meet somebody new you might see and observe them, but until you start talking and interacting with them there isn’t much of a relationship.”
Worship is essential to spiritual development, as well. It’s a corporate body of people coming together, explains Pudell. “There's also fellowship — people getting to know each other in a relationship reinforced through interaction, showing love for each other and living life together.”
Finally, spiritual development is connecting to one’s calling of servanthood, whether it’s leading a ministry, participating in a community clinic, food drive, vacation bible school, mission or other outreach, all are leadership opportunities.
“As we grow in our faith we grow in our understanding of God’s love for us and for our world,” says Pudell. “We grow in our relationship with God and also with others and in our leadership ability. We’re going from an inward focus to an outward focus — less concerned with ourselves and more aware of the needs of others.”