The “Conversations about Faith & Life” Backstory

Conversations about Faith & Life (CFL) is a weekly interactive devotion on Jesus’ life and ministry found on The CFL backstory illustrates the challenges of discipleship in the local congregation.CFL Summer

I wish I could say Conversations about Faith & Life (CFL) was the result of deep theological insights born of contemplative Bible study.

It wasn’t.

I wish I could say CFL was the result of a strategic initiative to transform a raft of congregations.

It wasn’t.

Instead, CFL’s conception was rather mundane; an attempt to solve a problem in our church.

Leaders in our congregation were frustrated at relatively few members praying aloud with family, witnessing to friends or study Scripture with their neighbors.

Meanwhile, members were increasingly irritated because they wanted to witness and pray and study with their neighbor, but were not sure how to get started.

The more leadership encouraged members to disciple their neighbors, the more frustrated members became with not knowing how. The more exasperated members became, the more intensely leaders exhorted them.

The tension would have come to a head if it weren’t for a “meeting after the meeting” in the church parking lot. During the informal discussion someone posed a question. Would members be more likely to witness away from church if they practiced discussing their faith in the relative safety of church?

This comment sparked a good deal of brainstorming, which led to testing different ways for members to witness and pray and study Scripture with one another. One idea was creating interactive devotions.

All groups, committees and teams were asked to start meetings with interactive devotions. At first leaders read aloud a Bible verse and then lead a discussion about the passage. We soon some leaders needed help choosing Bible verses; others required assistance with questions.

CFL is the result of those refinements. Each CFL devotion starts with a brief introduction providing context for a short Bible passage from one of the Gospels. There are three questions to spur discussion about the Bible passage. The devotion closes with an invitation for each participant to share a prayer request and pray aloud for others.

Christians in America have a tendency to look at a Bible passage and immediately ask, “What does this mean to me.” In order to understand the text, it’s better to first discover what the passage meant to original hearers. Each CFL is written so those gathered explore what the text originally meant before exploring what it means today.

Feedback from congregational members affirmed our theory. We didn’t know how many members became more active in sharing their faith, but we knew some did. I started hearing stories from members who, for the first time, had publicly sharing their faith or praying.

A year into the experiment, leaders started exploring whether there were additional benefits to creating environments for faith sharing. Members of groups and committees that regularly used the devotions seemed to develop deeper relationships. Leaders also wondered if the devotions helped bring some cohesion to our congregation, which had recently added a fourth weekly worship service.

Over the years staff and members have taken CFL to their new churches or ministries. Variations of CFL have also surfaced. I post CFL devotions in this blog each Monday. On Wednesdays I post PDF versions of the next week’s CFL on the “Resources” page of The PDFs are designed for church groups or committees, small groups, missional communities, house churches or home school students.

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