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Blog 009 Developing Biblical Convictions

“I am not a Christian because God changed my life; I am a Christian because of my convictions about who Jesus Christ is.“
—Josh McDowell

It’s a well known secret in teaching circles that if students don’t understand the “why” behind a concept — and more importantly, if they’re not the ones figuring out that “why” on their own — they usually will struggle to grasp and apply the concept.

It’s no different for young Christians.

If a young Christian doesn’t understand the “why” behind “Best Practices” for walking with Christ – e.g. having a daily quiet time, memorizing Scripture, being in intentional fellowship with other believers, etc. – they’re going to struggle to to fully embrace and implement these practices in their lives. Sure, they may do it for a season, especially if they have accountability. But as life goes on, hard things come up, and that accountability fades, if they haven’t developed strong convictions about who Jesus is and how they want to walk with Him, their walks with Christ will begin to stagnate.

The key to discipleship is spiritual maturity. One of the best things you can do to grow in spiritual maturity, or to help another Christian grow in maturity, is to develop convictions based Biblical principles and practices (not by thinking through how you “feel” about an topic).

That’s why we’re excited to present you with the Conviction Capsule – an “old-school” Navigator tool that walks you through developing convictions based on your time in the Word. That’s right – we’re not going to tell you what to think or believe about certain topics – we don’t believe that is what true discipleship is. Instead, our heart (and we hope your heart with the people you are discipling) is to equip you to study the Word and use what the Spirit reveals to you there to develop your own convictions about what it means to walk with Jesus.

One long-time Navigator recently shared with us: “Sometimes, I’m amazed that I still am walking with Jesus, knowing my own sinful nature and desires. I know a big part of this is His grace to me. But as I was thinking and praying through why this is recently while preparing for a Bible study I was leading, I remembered all the Conviction Capsules I’d done with the woman who discipled me in college way back when. And even though I don’t remember the specific Conviction statements I wrote anymore, I remember exploring the Bible and embracing the concepts I found there on spiritual disciplines and other issues, and I truly believe a huge part of why I’m still following Jesus is because of the convictions I developed and then stood firm on back then, like spending time with Jesus daily and memorizing His Word and being bold in sharing my faith with the people around me. And over the years, I’ve seen the fruit of that!”

So, what are these Conviction Capsules and how do you use them? (Follow along with printable PDF here.)

First, brainstorm a list of spiritual foundations (e.g. ‘Having a quiet time’ or ‘Prayer’) or questions that can challenge a Christian walk (e.g. ‘How is the Bible relevant today?’ or ‘How can such a diverse church be unified in one body?’). Choose one as your topic.

Next, define what you are developing your conviction on, not the conviction itself, so you can clearly articulate it to another. (e.g. If you are developing a conviction on quiet times, what is a quiet time?)

This part is essential: Do an Inductive Bible Study (tool coming soon) on your topic! Use this study to develop your conviction: what does The Bible say about your topic? Choose your favorite or most compelling verse or passage to serve as your key verse; then memorize the verse or passage!

Now, begin to develop your personal conviction, writing down “I believe ___ “ statements about your topic with supporting Scripture. (This is where those other ‘secondary’ verses you found in your inductive Bible study come in handy!)

Pray through your key passage(s) and personal conviction statements in order to write out a personal life statement: “Because this is true, I will ___ .”

Next, think through how you could share this truth with others. Some of you who are verbal may prefer to simply write out an explanation, while others of you who are more visual might be able to create a cool visual diagram or illustration, like The Wheel or The Bridge!

Finally, think through your personal life example. How is this truth taking root in your heart and becoming real in your life? Be sure to include both successes (it’s not prideful to rejoice in the victories Jesus is giving you in conforming your thoughts and character to be like His!) and struggles (if we’re not honest in where we’re struggling, we prevent our community from coming alongside us to encourage and support us, and we set others up for failure by making them think they’re the only ones who struggle).

Remember, taking time to prayerfully consider what you believe and why will only be to your good and God’s glory – we hope you get started today! If you’re excited about this but aren’t sure where to start, either by yourself or to equip another, we’d encourage at beginning with these foundational topics: Prayer, Time in the Word, Fellowship, Witnessing, Obedience, and Humility.