By Katie Ginn

I’ve never been what you’d call a church hopper. I was part of one congregation from pre-K through high school; attended my “hometown church” or my “college town church” for four years, depending on where I was each weekend; and most recently, I was active at one church in Jackson for nearly 10 years. For the most part, I didn’t change where I worshiped unless I’d moved to a new place.

Then in early 2021, I started visiting a couple of churches. I was looking for a solid Christian community where I wouldn’t be the only single 30-something. (This can be hard to find in the Bible Belt.) Through that process, I met my husband. I was doing something I’d never done before, and I wound up experiencing a romantic relationship unlike any I’d ever had. 

To be clear, I wasn’t visiting churches primarily to find a mate; I’m not saying single people should simply church-hop every few years when the dating pool dries up. But most of the time, if we want our lives to look different than they do now, we have to take different actions. 

If we want more time with our family, we could wait to see if our calendar magically clears up – or we could quit agreeing to so many volunteer projects. If we want to be healthier, we could ask the Lord to transform that Digiorno pizza into a grilled chicken salad on the way down – or we could eat a grilled chicken salad. 

I recently got an email from a writing group leader that included two prompts for the end of 2023:

  • In the new year, I want more _____.
  • In the new year, I want less _____.

What are your answers? Or rather, what would God say He wants more of (or less of) in your life? I believe He’ll help you figure out the answers (James 1:5) and help you execute them (Philippians 2:13). 

This year I want more prayer. I also want less legalistic Bible reading. Too many times I have completed my “reading plan” for the day, checked the box, felt good about myself, and never said a word to God in prayer. Too many times I’ve been bogged down in the minor prophets and never flipped to the New Testament for a break. Friend, it’s OK to change things up. Reading plans are not canonized. Also, if your motivation for reading the whole Bible in a year is just to say you did it, you’re ignoring Jesus so you can sit on a religious pedestal.

OK, I’m done preaching to myself.

That writing group leader also sent us some other questions, which I’ve tweaked here to apply to our walk with Christ: 

  • What have you done this year that has drawn you closer to Jesus? 
  • What environments have nurtured your spiritual growth, and how? 
  • What’s kept you from spending time with God, whether in prayer, scripture or both?
  • What one change that if implemented on a regular basis, would make a positive difference in your love for God and people?

I need to ponder these questions myself. Maybe they’ll be helpful for you too.

Often our New Year’s resolutions include our physical health. If that’s you this year, you’ll find plenty to read about in this edition of MCL! But regardless of your goals – or even if your resolution is just to survive – know that your Redeemer lives (Job 19:25). If He isn’t your Redeemer yet, I would urge you to do something you’ve never done in order to gain something you’ve never had: Surrender your heart to Christ, and receive a relationship unlike any you’ve ever experienced. Happy New Year!