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Practice what you preach

Laura Walton

Laura Walton

It’s often said, “Practice what you preach”. A statement to live by for Christians, or members any faith group, for that matter. The young people of our church need to see that statement in action. It’s good to create youth and young family programs, but if we do it without sincerity and depth, any positive results will be short-lived.

The call to build programs and create liturgy so the missing generation will be part of our church community is pointless if we don’t practice what we preach. We use our “God talk” and teachings to reach out into our communities. We can talk about Missional Transformation, Fresh Expressions of church and the Marks of Mission, but what happens when we don’t follow up? What happens when we preach about love, compassion, and community, and then do nothing to show that in action?

With every Sunday service, every youth group, every Messy Church, we bring a message of hope, love, and faith based on the Gospel, whether it be told by a priest or lay leader. The problems begin when the leaders don’t live this out in their lives that are apparent to those in the group. If you talk about compassion, you have to be compassionate. Don’t turn your back on those who are mentally ill or difficult to relate to. They need the most compassion. If you talk about love, don’t limit it to those who you find easy to be with. Those youth that push your buttons and fight for any attention, good or bad, need your love even more than others. If you talk about morals and good Christian behaviour, then live it. You can’t be a leader only within the walls of the parish building. Model what you talk about.

And one of the most important thing to practice? Humility. If you don’t practice what you preach, then admit your failings. We are all human and make mistakes. Admitting imperfection is one of the greatest gifts you can offer to those you minister with and to. Practice what you preach, and the young people you work with will see the sincerity and depth in your ministry, and want to continue on their faith journeys with you alongside.

Laura Walton

About Laura Walton

Laura Walton is part of the Youth Initiatives Team for the Anglican Church of Canada. She is the half time youth minister at All Saints', Collingwood and has a private counselling practice in the area as well. As the mom of 2 teenagers, a Preacher's Kid, and long time volunteer in the Diocese of Toronto Laura has worked in the field of youth and children's ministry on the ground floor level for many years. Laura has a love for sports, music and challenging the status quo which she brings to her work in youth and children's ministry.
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15 Responses to Practice what you preach

  1. Really Jesse Dymond, indomitable?

  2. Our colleague, Andrew Indomitable Graham is suffering in hospital. Some of us have altered our names in solidarity and in faith (Andrew makes no claims of power outside of Christ).

  3. Thar now makes sense. I feel like a tool.

  4. It’s all good. Clay pots are tools. 🙂

  5. Kyle Norman

    Wonderful post Laura (and welcome to The Community!). It reminded me of the William Law’s statement in his book “The serious call to the Devout and Holy Life.’ Law states:

    “If humility is a Christian duty, then the everyday life of a Christian must show forth humility. If we are called to care for the sick, the naked, and the imprisoned, these expressions of love must be a constant effort in our lives. If we are to love our enemies, our daily life must demonstrate that love. If we are called to be thankful, to be wise, to be holy, they must show forth in our lives. If we are to be new people in Christ, then we must show our newness to the world. If we are to follow Christ, it must be in the way we spend each day.”

    I look forward to future posts!

  6. maybe read Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli

  7. Laura Walton

    Thanks Kyle! I love the quote. Exactly what I was trying to say. 🙂

  8. That statement goes for christians and non Christians too..

  9. Anglican Youth Fellowship ( A. Y. F. )

  10. Our daughter continues to amaze us with her sense of justice, compassion and fairness for all the children of God.

  11. Laura – Thanks for this reflection. Authenticity is at the heart of what it means to be Christian, and inauthenticity at the heart of why so many people are leaving the church.

    The so-called “nones” and “dones” are leaving because they sense that we don’t actually practice what we preach, and I think that your article brings us back to that most earthy of calls in our faith.

    We need to live what we say we believe. We need to embody what we preach. And we need to find ways to confess, with honesty, integrity, and authenticity, our failings even as we seek to follow Christ.

    Ever grateful for your insights, and thankful for this reflection in particular.

  12. This remind me of the letter to Diognetus .Here is a little excerpt from it, “They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have their meals in common, but not their wives. They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men, and they are persecuted by all.” The full letter can be read here http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/diognetus-lightfoot.html

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