Updated: Nov 23, 2019
My wife and I are proud parents of three married children and proud grandparents of seven wonderful grandchildren, ranging in age from one year to twelve years. It’s fun to watch children grow through various stages of life. In their early years, they learn to eat, and crawl, and walk, and talk – first simple words, then complete sentences. Then comes the school years – learning to read and write, add and subtract, music lessons and sport teams. This is followed by the teen years – driving and dating. There were days of anguish, and days of sheer pride and joy. It has been rewarding to watch our own children mature, begin their life’s work, get married, and start families of their own. Now we are enjoying our grandchildren as they progress through the same stages of life. God has truly blessed us beyond measure.
Just as children grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially; so, believers also must grow and mature spiritually. But spiritual growth doesn’t happen automatically. Like physical growth, spiritual growth takes time. There are no “silver bullets” for spiritual maturity. There is no magic formula, or book, or conference, or website, or spiritual experience that will magically produce spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity requires effort, discipline, and time. Spiritual growth is a process.
Churches must not leave the spiritual growth process to chance, assuming it will somehow happen on its own. We must be intentional and strategic in developing a spiritual formation process.
First, it is imperative that we know what we are aiming at. What is the target? What might a profile of spiritual maturity look like? Winning a game of Bible Trivia or Bible Jeopardy is not the goal of spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is more than acquiring a wealth of Bible knowledge. Spiritual growth must be holistic. It must impact every area of a believer’s life – mind, heart, and will.
Therefore, I encourage turnaround leaders to develop a profile of a mature disciple. This profile should include convictions (Biblical beliefs), conduct (spiritual disciplines) and character (Christlike attitudes). Below is a sample “Profile of a Mature Disciple,” which I have developed.
Secondly, once a profile of a mature disciple has been identified, a strategy to accomplish the goal must be developed and implemented. Typically, the strategies for spiritual formation fall into two categories: a traditional model of Sunday School offered on Sunday mornings; or a contemporary model of Small Groups offered throughout the week. Other strategies for spiritual formation may include midweek Bible courses, shorter four-to-six-week electives, weekend seminars, and mentoring programs.
Whichever model or strategy is utilized, turnaround churches must be intentional and strategic in developing mature disciples. Remember, church revitalization is not just about numbers, it is also about personal growth and spiritual revitalization.