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Time for spiritual decluttering

We accumulate spiritual clutter

Every so often you declutter the junk drawer, the basement, or the garage. How about taking time at the start of the new year to declutter your spiritual life?


United Methodist

One of the wonderful things about each new year is that it brings with it a sense of a new beginning, 365 days of promise and possibility.

Some use this time to bring freshness to their lives. You may decide to declutter the junk drawer, attic, or garage. It may also mean removing many of the sugars, fats, and carbohydrates from our diets.

As a United Methodist church member, parting with some things for a season, may help declutter your spiritual life. Doing so helps make room for a new movement of the Holy Spirit in the months to come. What might you set aside in the next year?


John Wesley instructed his pastors to “Never trifle away time” (2016 Discipline 330.5.d.19.a). Instead, they were to be engaged in the practice of ministry or the development of their spiritual lives. While we may not want to get rid of all time-wasters since we need times of rest, there are diversions we could remove and replace with something more beneficial.

Consider finding ways to free up time to make regular calls to old friends and church members you no longer see, to join a class or small group at your church, or when possible, volunteer at a local food bank or other mission.

A version of the Bible

If you have been a Christian for some time, you probably know the Bible fairly well. There are verses you know by heart, and stories that are very familiar. Reading from a different version of the Bible can help bring new life to those passages. A translator’s decision to use one word over another may give you some new insight you hadn’t thought of before.

If you regularly read from a modern version like the Common English Bible, consider a more traditional translation like the New Revised Standard Version. If you gravitate toward the more traditional, try something more modern. Search the web for Bible reading sites and apps (there are many free ones) where you can access a new version of Scripture.

A devotional

Devotionals are helpful aids to lead us in Scripture reading and prayer every day, but we can become stuck in a rut with them as well. If you have been using the same book or website for more than a year, you may benefit from trying something different this year. A new devotional resource, like an unfamiliar Bible translation, can bring new life to your time with God.

There are many devotional helps available online and in physical and digital books. The Upper Room from Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, is a very good source. Try something new.

A favorite author

Many readers have favorite authors. We like the way they turn a phrase, develop a story, or how they put into words what we have thought or felt for some time. Growth, though, often comes from thinking about things from more than one perspective. Reading a variety of authors can challenge us to do just that.

When looking for a book to read for spiritual enrichment (Cokesbury and Abingdon Press are good places to start), consider something new to you, which actually may be something quite old. You might want to read from a theologian whose work you have heard is important but you have never read, a person on the best-seller list whose views you think may be different from yours, or a recommendation from your pastor.


Last Updated on October 31, 2023

The Michigan Conference