Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spiritual Babies in the Church

One of the most glaring realities in many churches in the lack of spiritual maturity among many long-time members. There are many Christians who have been Christians for many years, yet they are still spiritual infants. They have never grown up in the faith. This is a real problem in the church. I would even venture to say that spiritual immaturity is one of the primary reasons why many churches are dying and so many churches remain in a cycle of conflict: no one wants to grow up spiritually. This is a great danger to the church and the mission of the church. Lest some think I'm being too harsh: all members, including spiritual babies, are in need of shepherding. However, the refusal of some to grow up spiritually when all the resources are available to them can cause harm to the church body and can be a detriment to the mission. Some might say, "they" are part of the mission. To that, I agree. However, the constant clamoring of the spiritual babies can be draining on the church and can keep a church from actually advancing the kingdom of God.

Infants are always thinking about themselves, always clamoring for attention, always making sure their needs are met without any consideration for others. Spiritual infants, those who should not be spiritual infants, can be the same way. They refuse to take responsibility for their spiritual growth. They expect pastors to spoon feed them all the time and to respond to their every whine and whimper. They expect other church members to "serve" them constantly. And, let's be clear, spiritual immaturity doesn't have as much to do with chronological age as sometimes people often think. And, it seems to me, at least through observation and experience (no stats to back this up), the ones who are whining and complaining the most are the least spiritually mature and least spiritually attuned to what the Lord is doing.

To be sure, sometimes within a church's culture, there is no expectation of the members to grow up spiritually. This is certainly true of many churches. Many churches have determined by their practice that being a "good church member" is serving on committees, giving money to the organization (not necessarily the same as the mission by the way), and making our voice heard when we don't like something. We have inadvertently (hopefully, it was inadvertently) told people that "growing up spiritually" is not necessary.

Well, it is necessary. In fact, it is so important and necessary that the writer of Hebrews warns about the danger of not progressing in the faith in Hebrews 5:11-6:2. He also, in this passage, exhorts his audience to progress in maturity, not to stay spiritual babies. Jesus has so much for his children. Remaining a spiritual baby keeps people from attaining to and accomplishing all that Jesus has for them to accomplish. Let us move on to spiritual maturity. Let us not let people remain spiritual babies.

To some, this may not sound very "loving". However, is it very loving to let your 15 year old child drink out of sippy cup or continue to feed him with a baby spoon?

What's the Blog Scoop on March 22, 2014

How the coming baby boomer retirement will affect your church

10 Signals to say to Newcomers They aren't Welcome Here

5 Ways to Protect Your Church from Dying - This is basic stuff, but more important than some people think.

10 Ways to Kill Your Church

You're preaching Sunday - I know this one is for pastors primarily, but please read the first two or three paragraphs. Then, you will have some idea that pastors don't just work on Sundays. Ha, ha.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Danger of Drifting

As we gathered yesterday with the church, the text we were diving into was Hebrews 2:1-4. This particular text is an exhortation and a warning to us about the danger of drifting away from the gospel, drifting away from Christ. The danger of drifting is a real temptation for every Christian. It is a danger to be avoided at all costs. It is a temptation that is to be expected from all directions. Drifting is the natural result of neglect. The reality of drifting can happen to individuals, and it can happen to churches.

Here are some symptoms that a personal spiritual drift is in progress: (compiled from various sources)
  • when Jesus isn’t as great as he used to be
  • when the cross of Christ is no longer amazing
  • when the songs we sing are just routine
  • when we just go through the motions of religious activity
  • when we no longer desire the word of God
  • when we really don’t pray in the Spirit
  • when we have little concern that we might actually be drifting
  • when we are chasing the glitz of the world
Here are some symptoms that a church-wide spiritual drift is in progress: (compiled from various sources)
  • when a church becomes more focused on the organization rather than the people
  • when a church becomes inwardly focused
  • when pleasing the members becomes more important than the people the church wants to reach
  • when appearances become more important than reality
  • when traditions and programs become more important than seeing lives changed by Jesus
  • when budgets & buildings become the mission rather than tools to accomplish the mission
From a devotional our church is using right now, Arise, there was this quote that connects drifting with apathy & complacency: "When apathy and complacency are present, our love for spiritual things wanes and our desire to walk in Christ's mission subsides."

Now, what do you do when you recognize the drift is taking place?

First, Return. Return to your first love (Revelation 2:1-7). Returning requires repentance. 

Second, Renew. Renew your covenant commitment to Jesus as Lord.

Third, Refocus. Refocus your attention on the kingdom of God as your #1 priority.

Have you begun to drift? Has your church begun to drift? Are you in the midst of a spiritual drift?