Monday, October 23, 2006

What is Spiritual Growth?

In this series on Reggie McNeal's book "The Present Future," we have talked about the church finding ways to go out to reach people, instead of waiting for people to come to the church. In this way, I believe we are living the example of Jesus, who regularly spent time outside of the synagogue and dialogue with people. This is important as well to help transform the community we live in, since we will have a better understanding of the needs of the people and the community. So the church in the 21st century should be seeking to find ways to connect with others.
Above we have 2 pictures. One is the picture of someone raising their hands in worship. The other is the picture of a cross. When you think of the idea of spiritual growth, there are many different ideas that come to mind. One is singing song of praise to God. Another might be the symbols (like the cross) that connect our mind with thoughts of God. A third idea might be reading the Bible to grow in knowledge.
Reggie McNeal, in chapter 4 of his book, challenges the church to get beyond trying to make people into good church members, and start to move people into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. He proposes that if this relationship becomes alive to people, then it will transform their lives to begin to live as God is calling them to live. So the emotional, physical, relational areas of our lives are all part of our spiritual growth. If we are not emotionally healthy, then we will struggle spiritually. If we are not physically healthy, then we will struggle spiritually.
The questions we should be asking is: What percentage of the people in my church grew to be more like Jesus last year? How is God at work in my life and the lives of others in my circle of friends and family? These questions lead us to a much different place than the question: Am I a good church member? And they are more valid questions, because it isn't about being good church members, as much as it is being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. And if we are growing to be more like Jesus, then we will be a faithful follower.
Another important avenue for us to follow as Christians, is to have a coach or mentor. We all know someone who is more mature in their faith than we are. How wonderful it is to have a person like this to help coach us along (and keep us accountable) in our journey of faith. A coach or mentor is someone who seeks to help you continually discover and live out the plan God has for your life. In this way, we are experiencing meaning and purpose in our lives, because we are living as God has created us to live.
Spiritual formation is about seeking to have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and seeking to live out who God has for us to be. When we do this, we will experience spiritual growth, and make an impact in our world for God. Tell me what you think (