Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reasons Churches Don't Produce Spiritual Growth

I’m reading my way through the book “Move” written by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson.  Their book is based on research of over 1000 churches and what it reveals about spiritual growth.  It takes a hard look at why we fail at producing spiritual growth in believers, and offers suggestions that can be adopted to turn things around.

This book will challenge every notion you have about spiritual formation in the life of the believer and why so many of our ministries actually fail at that task.  Here are a few of my highlights, including quotations from the book:

1.  People are not engaged in the Bible when away from the church.  We do a good job of teaching the Bible at church, but many people are not in the Word when at home.  This is the most crippling of all.

2.  Churches are more concerned about activity than individual growth.  "Increased church activity does not translate into spiritual growth."  People can be very involved at church and still have shallow behavior.  Ironically, most churches gage spiritual health by how busy someone is at church and then elevates them to leadership, thus repeating the cycle.  That is the conclusion of studies conducted in over 1000 churches.

3.  The church’s role has not been clarified and expectations have not been right-sized.  When it comes to spiritual growth, whose responsibility is it - the church or the individual?  The responsibility rests with both.  Unfortunately, a lot of people believe the responsibility rests solely with the church.  The expectation is that the pastor does all the feeding while the people do all the eating.  However, the goal of discipleship is to slowly make believers stand on their own two feet.  That is, the church is responsible for helping believers grow to a certain point.  After that, they should feed themselves and focus on helping the church with its mission.  To do that, expectations must be right sized.  Growing Christians must be taught that the church and its leaders cannot and will not do everything for them indefinitely, and at some point they must embrace the habits of spiritual growth for themselves.

4.  The church is focused more on small groups than serving.  To quote the book:  “Serving opportunities appear to be even more significant to spiritual development than organized small groups.”

5.  Refusal to acknowledge that more is NOT better.  Based on the findings of the most effective churches, they discovered that the attitude of “more is better” is not the best route, particularly for new people to the church.  Instead of offering a ministry buffet with multiple choices of activities, theses churches make one singular pathway a prerequisite to membership and full engagement with the church.

6.  Too much emphasis is focused on what people should do rather than what they should become.  Unfortunately, churches still make things harder by obscuring the goal – to become like Christ – with a complicated assortment of activities.”

7.  You are not helping people surrender their lives to Christ.  Spiritual growth is not driven or determined by activities; it is defined by a growing relationships with Christ.  The goal is not to launch people into an assortment of activities; it is to launch them on a quest to surrender their lives to Christ.

1 comment:

Mark Furlong said...

Hi Ron,
Thanks for that quick review. I like your slogan and look forward to hearing more from you.