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Inviting Others Into Your Lent

man praying in church pew

man praying in church pewThe word Lent usually brings to mind the thought of giving something up or forfeiting something you enjoy for 40 days. Many people do participate in some type of fast during Lent, but what is the Lenten season really all about?

Lent is the 40 day period before Easter Sunday, which is set aside by many Christ-followers for soul-searching, repentance and preparing our hearts for Easter. Traditionally many churches encourage believers to observe Lent through fasting from something they love or enjoy during the season to help them focus on Christ and the sacrifice He made on the cross. The intention and hope is that by foregoing something daily such as maybe caffeine, or sweets, facebook or some other favorite vice then our thoughts and focus could instead be centered on prayer and Scripture reading.

Now that social media allows so many more opportunities for people to share their thoughts and ideas Lent also has become a new way to creatively and corporately celebrate Christ. Believers are sharing with their followers on social media unique ways they are choosing to prepare their hearts for Easter, both through fasting from certain things and alternatively, through adopting new practices during this season.

Simply by googling Lent and #Lent you can find varied ways to practice this 40 day discipline. Many people are choosing a Lenten reading plan on YouVersion; whether reading one chapter in Proverbs a day or reading through Psalms and Proverbs or even the Gospels in 40 days. Using this time for focused Scripture reading is a great way to recalibrate our hearts. Others are devoting a specific amount of time each day to focused prayer or Scripture memorization. Instead of spending time watching their favorite sitcom they are using that time to pray for different people each of those 40 days.

There are many people that use Lent to begin serving others in new ways and develop new relationships through giving. This may look like devoting four hours a week to visiting the elderly at a local nursing home, volunteering at a soup kitchen or clothing closet or food pantry. It might mean reading to children at an elementary school or writing encouraging notes to first responders in your town. Choosing to intentionally give to others in some way for 40 days is a great way to keep your heart centered on Jesus and the way He gave to and for us.

Using social media to share what you are doing to observe Lent can be a great way to seek accountability and also encourage others to join you. Many churches are using the momentum of the Lenten season to inspire and motivate their congregation toward corporate Scripture reading plans or congregation-wide serving opportunities. Many church staff are holding one another accountable through Instagram, facebook and Twitter to give or serve or reflect for the entire 40 days of Lent and challenging members of their church body to join them and record their journey along with them on social media. There is a positive power in accountability toward self-discipline. When we see others post about the joy they felt in maintaining their commitment to read through the Gospels each day it motivates us to continue as well. When we see pictures of a church member finding joy while delivering flowers to a once-stranger at the nursing home in our hometown it challenges us to spread some hope and joy ourselves. It can create meaningful conversation around the dinner table and even with our co-workers that allows us to share our personal experience with Lent and potentially share and create heart change.

What will you choose to do during Lent this year to set apart this season for Christ? And how can you invite others to join you?


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