Below is the seventh chapter in my upcoming resource for churches, Learning to Walk. My hope is that this will assist churches in making disciples, not just attendees. As with chapters 1-6, your comments and feedback are not just welcome, but encouraged!
I’m sure we’ve all encountered someone who, though they have aged, they haven’t grown up. Growing up is more than a matter of simply progressing through a biological maturation process. Growing up has to do with intellectual, emotional, and spiritual maturity, and that happens with intent.
This journey of faith didn’t begin by accident. You felt God’s work of conviction, and responded to His call. Eternal life isn’t summed up in a decision; it is summed up in a heart for God that affects every decision from here on out.
Your salvation didn’t come because you raised your hand or repeated a prayer. God called you, and your heart longed for him. God, knowing the beginning from the end, saw in you a heart that would respond to his call and he saved you (Romans 8:29-30). That heart will lead you closer and closer to God as you draw near to him.
Your spiritual maturity will come about as you feed that hunger for God (Matthew 5:6), which means, you will need to commit to grow in maturity. What that means is that you intentionally put yourself in a position to be challenged, encouraged, and equipped in your Christian faith.
Part of this intentional effort happens in the corporate church setting (the structure of your local church). Through weekly worship services, small group gatherings, Sunday school classes, and other church programs you will be taught and sometimes trained in the faith and grow in experience with God.
Church leadership and other believers are here to teach, encourage, and walk with you as you grow…and you are here to learn, but also to contribute to the growth and maturity of others. Please don’t think that a church leader or pastor cannot learn from you just because you’re a new Christian. You are a valuable part of the body of Christ by God’s work and declaration (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).
What happens in the corporate setting is only a small part of your Christian life. Interaction with other believers cannot be limited to a weekly gathering. Relationships are built and made strong as we share everyday life together. That doesn’t mean you spend every waking hour with your church friends, it means spending time with them as you would any other friend and sharing life with them.
Bringing worship into the home is also a vital part of growing spiritually. “Worship” is another one of those words we need to define. Typically when the word “worship” is used in Christian circles it means music and singing. This is a woefully anemic definition of worship. Worship is a lifestyle of responding to God’s revelation of himself, and exalting (making known) and glorifying him. Worship is being thankful to God, praising God, and seeking his face. We worship in prayer, in singing, in silent reflection and meditation (filling our minds with thoughts of God and his word). We worship with the work of our hands and the words of our mouth. Through testimonies (telling what God has done and how we have come to know him), intentional acts of kindness, and encouraging one another we also worship God. Bringing worship into the home is to simply set aside time to focus on and draw near to God, who is ever-present. This can be done through music and singing, it can be done through Bible reading and prayer, or it can be done by talking about what God has done or is doing in your life/lives.
Reading books, listening to sermons online, discussing things you’ve read and heard with other believers are all ways you put yourself in a position to learn and grow.
Another great activity that fosters growth is sharing your faith with others and having spiritual conversations with those who don’t necessarily share you faith. Don’t think you need to have all the answers. The Holy Spirit will give you words to speak when the need arises, but it’s also okay to say you don’t have an answer or response and that you’ll find out. Honesty, sincerity, and transparency are always more valuable than faking it, or avoidance. Remember, God is already at work. Salvation is his work, not something we do. Pray, and follow his lead. As it is written, “…in hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
Personal growth happens as you walk with God (live daily in the knowledge and awareness of God’s presence and responding to his activity in your life). Looking back to Proverbs 3:5-6, which we mentioned earlier, when we acknowledge God in all our ways, he will lead us to maturity. Your church family and leadership are here to help you, guide you, encourage and instruct you, but ultimately you are responsible for nurturing your relationship with Jesus. It’s a relationship that, much like a fire, gets bigger, brighter, and better as you feed it.