Did you know that 95% of New Year’s resolutions are fitness-related? And that by February, 80% will have abandoned their resolution? I can relate to this! I like to keep myself physically fit, and to maintain these habits, I know I need to put certain things in place because my will is often so weak. But physical fitness isn’t the only area of our lives that needs attention. What about our ‘spiritual fitness’ and, more specifically, our ‘missional fitness’?

It’s so important – we read that Jesus’ commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). So, how do we set and maintain missional fitness habits’ that will help us to keep this commandment throughout 2023? Here are just three ideas. While each idea is inspired by a lesson I’ve learned on my fitness journey, the principles behind them are also profoundly inspired by the day-to-day work of Compassion.

1. Buddy up.

Be a part of a community with like-minded people who share your goals. When I went back to the gym recently after an extended hiatus, I joined several gym classes. This was a great move as I was now a part of a tribe.

Likewise, being part of a church community is super important when establishing and maintaining missional fitness, because it is by working together that we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 – 25).

Why not go a step further and get yourself a missional buddy? Just like a gym buddy’, find someone who can give you that little bit of encouragement to keep going. Jesus seemed to love the buddy system – Luke 10:1 says, the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.”

2. Make a plan

Every week, I try to block out three gym sessions, and I make sure I have my gym clothes ready to go. I used to pride myself on being a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow type of person – but I’ve come to realise that routines are essential for growth.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, the apostle Paul says, pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah)” (Amplified Bible). This speaks to me of the importance of having a plan, a pattern of life to follow.

What would it look like for you to create a missional plan like this? This year, I will… This month, I will… What could your missional fitness plan look like? Which neighbour are you going to invite round for a meal and when?

Compassion
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3. Develop momentum – and don’t give up!

It takes time to develop healthy missional fitness, just as physical fitness takes time – but it is worth it. In Philippians 3:12 – 14 Paul says, Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Don’t let setbacks and disappointments discourage you from attaining your goals. Get up and go again.

However, in order to keep moving, we will need to develop momentum. There’s nothing like seeing the #Gains to spur on our momentum. In John 14:12, Jesus says: Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these”. I love this sense of momentum; you’ll do what I’ve been doing and then even more! 

Remember, start small and then build up. What simple word of encouragement can you give to someone? Keep a missional diary, see the gains little by little and build momentum as your faith rises.

In John 14:12, Jesus says: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these”. I love this sense of momentum; you’ll do what I’ve been doing and then even more!

Putting it into practice changes lives

While these three ideas are inspired by lessons I’ve learned on my fitness journey, the principles behind them really can make a huge difference to ministry. In fact, in a much more profound way, they are lived out day-to-day in our work here at Compassion, to release children from poverty. Here’s how:

  1. Community. Compassion-supported children’s relationships – with their peers, the Compassion staff, and their sponsor – will affirm and encourage them greatly! They’re part of a community with a shared purpose, to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
  2. Making a plan. In the context of our work at Compassion, every single child has a personalised development plan because every child is unique and needs specific development goals.
  3. Not giving up. In our work at Compassion, we know it takes time to help a child break the cycle of poverty – but it is more than worth it.

I believe if every one of us puts these healthy habits into practice – in whatever ways we serve and share the love of Jesus with others in 2023 – we’ll be able to look back on the year with joy. We’ll be able to see how God has used us and how lives have been changed in the most amazing ways.

Do find out more about the work of Compassion UK and how you can sponsor a child on our website, com​pas​sionuk​.org.