Are you interested in growing spiritually? Most Christians are not.
The usual category for this topic is discipleship. Believers should want to become more like Christ. However, in my experience, most don’t because they do not understand the benefits of such growth. This is because they do not understand the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit produces fruit like love, joy, peace, and hope. Who would not want to grow more of such fruit in their personal life?
I am addressing especially believers who grew up in infant-baptizing churches, which includes most mainline churches. There the emphasis is on educating children so they can confirm the faith affirmed for them at their baptism by their parents and sponsors. Confirmation is usually done at age 14 at the end of grade school. Most children do believe the faith they are confirming—as much as 14-year-olds can. Some Evangelicals have a similar pattern: infant dedication and believer baptism, which often happens around the age of 14.
The high value for infant-baptizing churches is a life of faithfulness to confirmation vows. This practice “worked” for centuries, producing many fine, upstanding Christians. It’s not working so well anymore. The difference now is living in a post-Christian society where Christian life and values are constantly under assault, already in high school and especially in college.
Most pastors witness how many of their confirmands disappear from church life after they have fulfilled their parents’ expectations. In my church we confirm about forty children a year, meaning we have approximately 160 in high school in a given year. Yet youth events draw only about one-tenth that number.
No one asks why a child should grow physically. It just happens. Physical maturity is reached in the late teens. Basic personality is set in the early twenties. Spiritual maturity takes a lifetime.
In biblical Greek, maturity means to become all you can be. That’s what Paul meant when he encouraged church leaders to build up the body of Christ until we all become mature, reaching to the heights of Christ’s full stature (Ephesians 4: 12). There is no spiritual-growth endpoint in this life.
Spiritual growth is basically a two-sided affair for developing a closer relationship with God. We naturally focus on our part. But the initiative for growth lies with God, acting through the Holy Spirit. Our part is to regularly put ourselves where the Spirit can work on us. Church is one place, but so are many situations in daily life. Spiritual GROWTH is mostly about those other places.
Go to God in Prayer and Worship
- Both exercise your relationship with God—prayer in private and worship in community.
Read God’s Word for You
- Scriptures can be read in many ways. For GROWTH, read for applications to your personal life.
Obey the Challenge to Deny Yourself
- Jesus issued the challenge to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him.
Witness Through Servant Behavior
- Actions speak louder than words. Biblical words about faith mean little to unbelievers.
Trust God in a New Venture
- A basic meaning of faith is to trust. Test your trust through actions beyond your comfort zone.
Humble Yourself with Discipline
- Chose a discipline to regularly keep yourself humble before God and others.
Why should you invest time in practicing the Six Basics? Simply, you will experience a more rewarding personal life. Where would you like to be in the future? In the Spirit, the best is yet to come.
The blogs that follow will develop these six basics.