A while ago, I wrote in my journal a list of reasons why it seems most churches aren’t growing spiritually. It seems, to me at least, that many churches and individual Christians have a ‘business as usual’ mindset and are not actively pursuing spiritual growth.
Why is this? Why aren’t churches causing more members to grow spiritually?
Here’s what I wrote down:
1. Your church has stopped making disciples, and is just baptizing. Fewer and fewer members are actually dying to themselves and pursuing Christ (cf. Gal. 2:20; Luke 9:27). You are creating a culture of Christians who have a ‘checklist’ mentality and think they’re okay as long as they are on the church membership roster (Last week I wrote an article on this.).
2. Your church thinks that ‘programs’ are the answer. You measure success by how many programs and events you offer, and by how well they are attended. In reality, the more of a priority you place on events (at the neglect of relationships and discipleship), the more you suffocate your congregation. Don’t misunderstand this; it’s not bad to have programs. Healthy churches typically offer a lot of events. The problem is when events become the ultimate aim, rather than a means to the end.
3. Your church leaves new and weak Christians to fend for themselves. New Christians aren’t mentored and discipled on a personal level. Weak Christians aren’t guided, fed a special spiritual diet, and disciplined in the “way more accurately” (cf. Acts 18:26).
4. The preaching isn’t relevant and applicable. Instead of bringing God’s Word to life, showing the flock how to follow God’s Will, and illuminating the Scriptures, you have reduced the Bible to a mere collection of cold facts (and that’s how you are conditioning members to view preaching – something that’s just boring).
5. Your church stresses only the peripheral issues, rather than the heart of the matter. The core of New Testament Christianity is learning to love God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). We just want to be more like Jesus. But at the neglect of focusing on these internal principles, you only talk about the externals (i.e. involvement, attendance, giving, &c).
6. Your church has lost its identity. You’re no longer all about the noble pursuit of restoring simple, 1st century, New Testament Christianity. Instead, you’ve started ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ and compromising fundamentals of the Faith under the guise of “outreach.”
7. You aren’t challenging members. They aren’t challenged to study their Bibles (at least not in specific ways), to step up and serve, and to lead.
8. Members compartmentalize the Church. Many view the Church as something that happens on Sunday, rather than a way of life. They view the pulpit as the primary source of spiritual knowledge and application (rather than a supplement to daily growth), and therefore their spiritual growth is stunted.
I know that spiritual growth is ultimately the responsibility of the individual (cf. Phil. 2:12; 1 Pet. 2:2). I get that. But it is the job of every congregation to foster spiritual growth.
These are just my thoughts. What would you add? Why aren’t more churches causing members to grow spiritually?