We mature and we develop. At least that is the plan. In our school classes, our teachers set goals for us and then teach us to achieve them. Our parents, if they care, look for our developmental goals. When did we walk? When did we complete sentences? How did we develop our motor skills? Why, then, does the church so often not communicate developmental goals for those it oversees? We tend to have some mild suggestions from meek pastors, but very few churches meet with the congregation and develop a plan.
One assumption might be that there are no markers of spiritual growth. The New Testament contradicts that lack of direction. We are meant to grow in knowledge and depth of insight. There is the milk we drink as spiritual infants and there is the meat we chew on as mature Christians. Some lack of growth is due to the passivity of the congregation. It is easy to watch ministers working hard with Jesus, rather than to get out of the pews and grow in ministry ourselves. It is easier to watch athletes on TV rather than train hard and become an athlete ourselves.
Children’s ministries often entertain rather than develop. Christian schooling often develops rigorously math skills, literacy skills, and even sports skills. These skills are seen as essential for life. However, if Christianity is true, Bible study, prayer and godly character are at least as important as reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic. The home is too busy to think. We mindlessly produce and consume. Nothing develops in that kind of lifeless environment. We may find that we have not really grown spiritually since we became a Christian as a small child.
This is why retreats are so successful. This is why Christian camps can help us. They move us away from the day-to-day and help us to refocus. A healthy home is one where the family works from a place of rest rather than exhaustion. A healthy school is one where God is worshiped in each class. A healthy church is one which provides tie for reflection, assessment, and accountability.
We are not saved because of our performance, but we are saved to grow and do better works. If you take time to assess how you have been growing, what do you need?
Do you need to get away to a Christian camp in the quiet countryside for a retreat? Do you need to study God’s word to bring it up to par with your other competencies? Do you need to connect with a church which will encourage you to the next step? Do you need your children to grow closer to God in their schooling and worship him in each subject area? There are options – the only wrong option is to choose to do nothing.