Tuesday, January 10, 2012
How do we know we are really growing in Christ?
How do we assess spiritual growth? This is one question that I've wrestled with for quite some time. Three influences are responsible for bringing this question to the forefront of my mind.
First, my personal experience with with the Church. I've noticed Churches were measuring the wrong things. In my spiritual journey I've been in many Churches, and the one common denominator that I've observed being used to judge spiritual growth was attendance, giving, and how involved congregants were in the programs of the local Church.
Think for a second! What do these three indicators all have in common? Spiritual growth is being measured by how involved you are in the Church. The danger with this assessment is that spiritual growth is completely wedded to one's Church involvement, while the more fundamental things like anger, a complaining attitude, honesty, father's being spiritual leaders in their homes, and congregant's prayer lives all become secondary issues.
Second, my thesis paper that I did for my master's degree. My research led me to many books that dealt with Family Based Ministry--- Family Based Ministry focuses on the home as being the primary setting where spiritual formation and growth takes place.
Reggie Joiner is considered the father of the Family Based Ministry movement. Joiner's book "think orange" emphasizes the necessity of the Church and the family to combine their influences for the spiritual health of the home. The force of the Family Based Ministry movement is for the Church and the family to partner together, to work towards building strong spiritual healthy homes.
The emphasis of this movement was contradictory to the assessment that was so prevalent in most Churches that used Church attendance as the means to measure spiritual growth.
Third, the rise of the missional movement. One of the faces of the missional movement is Reggie McNeal, McNeal's missional philosophy is that the Church needs to be intentional about looking "outward," he would say the the Church has become to "inward focused."
The missional movement would stress that we need a new "score card" for measuring spiritual growth. The Church has become too focused on programs and less focused on the spiritual health of the congregants---spiritual growth should not be inextricably linked to Church attendance.
In the Scriptures Jesus tells us to come to Him (Matt. 11:28), and then He invites us to abide in Him (John. 15:4), this is the essence of the Christian life. The Church and the individual Christian may be doing all the "religious things," but when it comes to the only assessment that really matters be failing---in revelation 2:4 the Church of Ephesus was charged with losing her first love.
Without a life that is burning with love for the Savior not much matters. We can be involved in all kinds of Church ministries, be at the Church every time the doors are open, and without love for Christ, it will all crumble and fall at the Bema Seat of Christ.
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