Six ways to look godly while not growing in your faith in 2013

Carl Laferton | January 2nd 2013

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.


12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
Lose the cynicism.

Ken Isakson

12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
I found there are other ways to look pious without substance:
1. Stack the books on top of each other where others can find them and periodically move them around.
2. Read the books rather than scripture.
3. When reading scripture, be sure to assign it as a task to be completed. Then you can pat yourself on the back when you're finished.
4. Forget that God plays for keeps and that sin is deadly serious.
5. Look for affirmation rather than humility in your life.
6. Never ask for help or prayer for serious issues in your life.
I could go on and on and have.


12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
This is me. Far too often, this is me.


12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
So, so helpful ... thank you.

Clare Usmar

12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
I think far to often, this is all of us in little ways if not all. The great news is that if we know this, we can ask God to help us change. It can feel overwhelming when we read the list and feel a failure, but why not choose one area out of all of them, confide in a friend at church, and ask God to grow you to be more like Jesus. It can be hard to admit we struggle we with these things, but God knows already.

Dee McDonald

12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
I agree with much of what was said, but I do take exceptions with the first part of # 5: "Use family as an excuse for not committing to ministry." Using family as an excuse in some cases is not a thing to look down upon. It is reality! When did discipling your children not become an important ministry? Ministry is wherever we are, and it does not have to be an "official" activity organized by a local church. Ministry (i.e. service) includes every aspect of our lives. These statements like using family as an excuse s are often used to make people feel guilty so they will start doing something in a church. I am not saying that serving in a community is not important, but sometimes family does take, and should take, priority over other things including. I am not going to make my wife (or me some times) feel bad because she is "only" taking care of my kids at the moment. She doesn't have time participate in a visible ministry at our church. It is not the how many or where that counts in ministry, but that you are infact serving others.


12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
Ellen, lose the negativity. If just one person found it helpful, then it's job is done.


12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
Dee, the way I read that part of the post was not that we shouldn't minister to family, but to use family as an excuse. There are times when the 'family stuff' can go along without direct, immediate input, and when that's the case, if we use 'family stuff' as an excuse to not be involved in external ministry, then we're falling into the trap that the writer is talking about.


12:01 PM GMT on January 8th
So true, there are a million excuses we can make to avoid facing our relationship with the Lord. As we are sinners i personally feel like my sin is always getting in the way, i know Christ forgives us again and again but i continue in my sin and sometimes i avoid coming close to God because i am ashamed. A relationship with God is not easy u have to work hard at it, He never changes it is us who drift away and become distant but He always longs for us to come back to Him no matter what. How great is our God!!

I know someone this applies to!

1:49 PM GMT on January 8th
I'll share it with them and feel great about myself.


10:51 PM GMT on January 15th
Oh Heck, I even read all those Christian books that I buy...and then put them straight on the mental bookshelf, often forgetting or not applying what I've read. This is a good list, that most of us can relate to and even add to.

Kelly Keith Dunn

9:09 PM GMT on February 7th
Thanks for the gut check. I know the Lord uses others to bring light into my life.

I must say that Ellen should have added to the discussion rather than make that kind of unhelpful - unnecessary comment.

Carl Laferton

Carl is Editorial Director at The Good Book Company and is a member of Grace Church Worcester Park, London. He is the best-selling author of The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross and God's Big Promises Bible Storybook, and also serves as series editor of the God's Word for You series. Before joining TGBC, he worked as a journalist and then as a teacher, and pastored a congregation in Hull. Carl is married to Lizzie, and they have two children. He studied history at Oxford University.