Intentional spiritual growth

It is our conviction that unless we intentionally focus on growing spiritually throughout our lives then we will experience a subtle tendency to stagnate and stagger spiritually.  Though we do not believe in "cookie cutter christianity" in which everyone is expected to look and act exactly the same, we do believe that the Scriptures provide us with principles and boundaries that apply well to growing Christians regardless of where they are spiritually.  We believe Scripture highlights three key elements in "Be"ing disciples - five increasing traits, four recurring seasons, and 13 spiritual markers.  By combining these three elements, we believe individuals, families, and groups are encouraged to pursue an ongoing connection with Jesus Christ that leads to thinking and acting like Christ while encouraging others to be and do the same.

5 increasing traits

When Jesus asked what the most important thing in life consisted of, he responded by essentially telling those listening to love God (Mark 12:28-31).  5 times in one short statement Jesus challenges us to love God holistically.  By looking at each of these love statements individually we can recognize the traits the encompass a wholehearted love of God which includes loving others.   We have described them in the following way...

  1. Passionate Lover: love the Lord your God with all your heart.
  2. Zealous Chooser: Love the Lord your God with all your soul.
  3. Critical Thinker: Love the Lord your God with all your mind.
  4. Sacrificial Server: Love the Lord your God with all your strength.
  5. Missional Liver: Love your neighbor as yourself.

4 recurring seasons

God has built order into His creation.  From the orbit of planets, to the cycle of tides and the rising and setting of the sun we see order and repetition.  The same can be said of our spiritual growth and faith development and development (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).  We use the analogy of seasons to illustrate this reality.  By understanding this cycle we can more effectively discern and participate in spiritual disciplines that will maximize our growth in godliness.

  • Summer: Enjoyment of Faith
  • Fall: Harvest of Faith
  • Winter: Crisis of Faith
  • Spring: Renewing of Faith

13 spiritual markers

We celebrate those things we consider important enough to be remembered. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other monumental moments in our lives are marked by commemorative celebrations.  At MorningStar, we have established spiritual markers that are intended to be "stones of remembrance," celebrations of our spiritual life and growth that celebrate individuals in the context of the spiritual family (Joshua 4:1-7).  These spiritual markers are meant to celebrate our priorities as followers of Jesus Christ, reinforcing our identity in Christ as men and women of God.  We celebrate the priority of being, making, and multiplying disciples.  Some of these markers are loosely connected to ages and stages of life and others are more general in nature, but most can be applied to our spiritual journey at any age or stage.

  • Conversion

    Embracing our identity in Christ, beginning the journey.  All of humanity is born in sin which means we are separated from God.  Only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross can we find grace to be delivered from our sin through His forgiveness and placed in the family of God through His righteousness. Conversion from death to life is by grace through faith and not something we bring about ourselves, but a gift of God.  Of all the spiritual markers this is the most significant because without it all the others lack any eternal significance or impact.

  • Baptism

    Publicly proclaiming my identity in Christ, hidden to revealed.  Once a person has experienced conversion, water baptism follows.  Water baptism is an act of obedience to God's command.  It openly reveals that we have been buried with Jesus and raised with Him to newness of life.  It is a public confession declaring we are "all in" when it comes to our relationship with Jesus.  What may have been hidden allegiance for a short season is now being revealed for all to see.  

  • Membership

    Entering covenant partnership with a spiritual family, isolated to connected.  At conversion, we are forgiven of sin and we are also adopted into the family of God, the body of Christ.  God tells us that we are to grow up together.  Joining a local church is an expression of what Christ has made us, a member of the body of Christ.  Committing to a local body is the natural outcome of this adoption and confirms what Jesus has done in us.

  • Lord's Supper

    Reaffirming my identity in Christ, remembrance, anticipation, and proclamation. Unlike most of the other markers, this is a marker that will take place repeatedly throughout one's faith journey.  As we come to the Lord's Table we seek to remember the past, revel in the present, and rejoice in the future recognizing that Jesus placed special significance on this time of communion within the body of Christ because of its proclamation of the gospel message.

  • Parent/child dedication

    Homes committed to being built on our identity in Christ, legacy families. Dedication of children is an opportunity for parents to express their commitment to raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord with the spiritual family as a witness and support.  This is an opportunity for families to publicly profess their desire and commitment to establish their home on the gospel of Jesus Christ, encouraging one another to fully embrace their identity in Christ.

  • Lil' sibs sunday

    Celebrating the multi-generational character of spiritual family.  Children are a vital part of the spiritual family.  Jesus placed a priority on children having access to him and we at MorningStar want to reflect that value as well. Therefore, as children transition out of children's worship, we want to celebrate their presence in our spiritual family and the legacy they represent for generations to come.

  • Presentation of bibles

    Committed to staying rooted in my identity through the Word of God.  God has given us the Bible that we might know Him, know His heart, and live in such a way that we honor Him.  As students of the Bible, we are immersed in His words that reiterate and reinforce our identity in Him.  Students of the Word have a greater propensity for being critical thinkers who are guided by God's truth.  Therefore, as our children mature mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually we want to celebrate and confirm that priority of the Bible in their lives through this spiritual marker.

  • Commitment to Purity

    My identity in Christ includes holiness.  Purity is a counter-cultural principle, and we are well aware of the challenges faced by all of us.  Our pre-teens face these challenges at a time when they are experiencing changes in their hearts and bodies.  With this in mind, we provide an opportunity to build connections between parents and their child venturing into needed discussions of physical changes to come (or happening now), and preempt much of the peer pressure by establishing principles for sex and dating early while encountering the encouragement of the larger spiritual family through this marker.

  • Commissioning

    Actively living my identity in my calling.  As part of our identity in Christ, God has uniquely called and equipped each of us for His glory and the advance of the gospel.  Commissioning is an opportunity to explore the Christian faith at a deeper level while also exploring the particulars of the call God has placed on a person's life.  This experience will help followers of Christ identify their calling from God and embrace it by actively living it out.

  • GRaduate recognition

    Transitioning from dependence on the biological family to interdependence in the spiritual family.  Culture largely marks graduation from high school as the transition to independence for students.  Our desire is to repurpose this life experience to represent the movement of a young person from dependence on family to interdependence in which they are contributing, taking responsibility, and submitting to accountability within the spiritual family.

  • Man of God, woman of God

    Enduring in my identity in Christ.  Those who embark on this spiritual marker recognize and assume the responsibility to take a long walk of obedience in the same direction.  Selflessness and courageous determination to fulfill the three roles of a man of God or a woman of God begins with this spiritual marker.

  • Life in christ

    Investing in other's identity in Christ.  This spiritual marker is about looking beyond ourselves, beyond our personal achievements to make sacrifices that blaze a trail for others in the spiritual family, seeking to make an impact on the next generation.  This is the path of wisdom in which values are passed on using the extra time and energy available in the middle years of life to broaden influence and impact for Christ by mentoring younger believers.

  • recommissioning

    Influencing younger generations to live for legacy.  Our culture, our churches, and even families sometimes forget just how valuable our seasoned saints are to our lives.  As a result, there seems to be a temptation for these seasoned saints to lose vision and passion for making an impact with their lives. Retirement seems to be a journey into self-indulgence and obscurity for many individuals who lived lives full of spiritual fruit.  MorningStar wants to celebrate this fruitfulness and encourage seasoned saints to retread the spiritual tires for a ministry focused on influencing younger generations for fruitful ministry as patriarchs and matriarchs of the faith.