Growing Big Spaces in Small Places: Learning Spiritual Practices from our Capernaum Friends

Sara Webb November 22, 2021

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”. 

Colossians 3:16 NIV

“Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives”. 

Colossians 3:16 The Message

Dwell Among You.

Plenty of Room.

I invite you to read Colossians 3:16 again. What words stick with you? As I have sat in this passage I have been stuck by the words “dwell” and in the Message version, “plenty of room.” I love the visual imagery of spaces where there is “plenty of room” for Christ to “dwell among” our hearts. How beautiful to have Christ dwelling in the BIG spaces of our hearts. How do we grow these spaces and how do we walk with others to grow these BIG spaces as well? 

In my role with Capernaum Discipleship, I often find myself learning and unlearning the practices of discipleship and my own understanding of spiritual growth. Discipleship within Capernaum is a beautiful mix of relationships, community, small groups, and camps. All of these practices are amazing and will keep happening in our Capernaum ministry, but what does spiritual growth look like for our friends with disabilities? What else can we offer our friends as they grow in their faith? As I considered these questions, I wondered if teaching spiritual practices with our friends was a missing link to growing our friends in their faith. Spiritual practice can be defined as any regular and intentional activity that establishes, develops, and nourishes a personal relationship with God in which we allow ourselves to be transformed.  

Growing up, I saw spiritual practices as my “personal relationship with God.” But what if this is not meant to be just to grow my or my friends’ space where God dwells – but what if the purpose of growing these spaces is for the sake of others? I came across an article written by the CRC’s Faith Practice Project that gives great clarity in how our Spiritual Practices are connected to others.

“Spiritual Practices are not designed to reassure us of our own goodness. Rather, they are missional in that they send us to love our neighbors with the love that God has for us. This occurs not only in tangible disciplines like service, but also as our vision for God’s lavish love in Jesus Christ grows through engaging Scripture, through prayer, and through observing God’s care for creation. Faith practices integrate our capacity to experience and respond to God’s love by moving us to love our neighbors, which in turn deepens and expands our love for God”.    

Faith Practice Project,

This is the kind of growth and faith formation I want for my friends – the formation of BIG spaces of dwelling and the lavish love of Christ that pours out of our friends and into their communities! I don’t want my friends just to have BIG rooms in their hearts where God dwells – I want them to have BIG spaces where they lead others into seeing and feeling and tasting the goodness of God too. I want my friends to have BIG spaces of dwelling that prepare them to give an answer for the hope they have (1 Peter 3:15) and lead others into the same hope in Christ.   

My hope for our discipleship ministry is we will become intentional in incorporating spiritual practices into every aspect of Capernaum ministry – club, discipleship, and 1:1’s. 

  • We have created a folder for our teams to engage with a variety of practices to teach and practice with our friends.
  • Also, a video series called Memory Verse Monday where we write scripture on our hearts. 
  • The hand and body prayers use our body to remind us to think of others, ask for help and be intentional with our actions.
  • There is also the practice of seeing God around us in our day-to-day life and learning to pause and say WOW God

I can’t wait to see how our friends grow big spaces in themselves and others as they learn these practices.

What Spiritual Practices are growing your spaces of dwelling for God in your heart?  Maybe they are no longer the hymns, songs, and Psalms as referenced in Colossians, but maybe they are prayers, serving, community, scripture memory, or seeing God in nature. Maybe joining our Capernaum friends in learning Hand Prayers, Body Prayers, Journaling, Wow God and Scripture Memory will grow all of our spaces of God’s dwelling.  

I pray for BIG spaces where God dwells in your heart, in the hearts of my friends with disabilities, and in mine as well.  

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