Do you have any intentional plans to grow this year? A few years ago I saw a quote on the preacher’s door at my home church, that said,
“If you are not growing, then you are coasting. And if you are coasting, you’re going downhill”
One of the major purposes of the Church is to nurture believers, to help them grow in maturity. One of the best ways to do that is to help them grow in their knowledge of the Bible and application to life! Intentional spiritual growth seems to be one of the weakest areas in the American church today.
In the great commission found in Matthew chapter 28, Jesus said to go and make disciples. This word means “followers or learners of Jesus.” He didn’t say go and make converts or church members. Jesus told his followers to baptize these disciples and then to teach them to obey everything that he had commanded. Lots of churches get the baptism part right, baptizing new believers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but they fall short when it comes to teaching a lifestyle of obedience. Baptism is a new birth, it’s just the beginning, not the end!
I think churches have two major problems when it comes to new believers. The first could be called “spiritual infanticide.” That is when we leave new believers on their own after baptism, expecting them somehow to figure out the Christian life on their own. We fail to mentor and disciple them, teaching them how to obey the teachings of Christ.
This would be like taking a newborn baby home from the hospital, laying it on the couch in the living room and then saying to the baby, “The fridge is in the kitchen, help yourself if you get hungry and the bathroom is down the hallway on the right.”
The other big problem churches have is when they become one big “spiritual nursery” where everyone remains a baby and nobody grows up. Some churches are full of members who have been Christians for years, but they have never grown spiritually. For example, perhaps there is a man who was really grumpy when he was baptized and 25 years later, he’s still just as grumpy. He hasn’t matured to the point where he exhibits joy—a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Or perhaps there is a woman who was a big gossip when she was baptized and 50 years later, she still gossips just as much. What is shocking is that often no one in the church seems to be surprised when believers don’t grow up and change.
So, let me ask you again. Do you have any intentional plans to grow this year? Growth is evidence of life. If you are not growing, then spiritually you might just be a “little baby!”
Reflections: Ask the Lord to reveal to you whether you are growing. Make some intentional plans to grow in obedience of the commands of Jesus. This might include meeting with a friend who will help spur you on to grow. This might include receiving regular teaching through books or podcasts, followed by intentional application.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.