I know these ways are effective because I have fallen, and still fall, into all of them, and need prayer that I will battle against them every day of 2013.

1. Regularly go away for the weekend and go to a different church

You’re still in church each Sunday. It just happens that no one church family gets to know you well enough to be able to challenge you where and when it’s needed. Being away once a month should do the trick; twice will make sure of it.

2. Be too busy doing ministry to pray or read your Bible daily

This way, you can look busy and godly to everyone around you, while growing more and more self-reliant and self-congratulatory, and never needing to be disciplined in working on your relationship with the Lord.

3. Think hard about how sermons apply to others

It’s just so much easier (and more pleasant) to work out how other people should change than it is to unsettle our own hearts and lives. If you really want to listen to sermons in an apparently godly but non-growing way, pick one encouragement from the sermon which will make no difference to your life, and share it with the preacher on the way out.

4. Talk to work colleagues and friends about church, but never about Christ

No one gets offended by church, as long as it sounds like a social club and they’re never invited. The claims of Christ, on the other hand…

5. Use family as an excuse for not committing to ministry; and use ministry as an excuse for not serving your family

You can escape committing to ministries you would rather avoid on the basis that you need to be devoted to your family at this particular stage of life (engaged/just married/young family/new grandchild/moving house/other, insert as appropriate); and you can escape the hard yards with your family by “needing” to be out of the house at a church event or preparing a Bible study, and so on.

6. Buy Christian books and put them straight on your bookshelf

This will make you look like you take your faith seriously and are wise and knowledgeable, at the cost of no time, no effort, and only a little cash. The best books to buy are ones with famous pastors’ names on the spine, or long ones. Second-hand books are great because they look well-used. Works best if you can find time to read a few pages of each book, allowing you to say you’ve read it without lying.