Spiritual immaturity runs rampant in our churches today.
Several years ago the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) made a bold claim. They claimed that each week, about 250 Southern Baptists were converting to Mormonism. At the time, the average Southern Baptist Church had about 250 members. Obviously, something was wrong!
Instead of taking seriously Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples, many churches have simply birthed and baptized spiritual babies, but have done little or nothing to nourish these babies to bring them to spiritual maturity. The result: our churches are filled with, and even led by, Believers whose spiritual growth has been stunted due to lack of nourishment.
Is making a “public profession of faith”, “praying the ‘Sinner’s Prayer'”, and being baptized all there is to the Christian life? Did Jesus do everything necessary to get a Believer into heaven, but leave it up to the Believer to figure out and work out everything else from there?
I believe that we have been far too easily satisfied. We have become far too much man-focused and far too little God-focused in our approach to the way we see everything from salvation to living the Christian life.
For too many years, pastors and churches have bragged about how many baptisms they have had in a year, a decade, or in the life of the church. Granted, baptisms are easy to measure. But how many of these baptisms “took”? Can the number of wet bodies truly give an indication of the vitality of a church? Can counting how many people who have “prayed a prayer” really measure how much a church is impacting individuals, the community, and world for the Kingdom of God? It seems like a good way to see how much we’re building our own kingdoms, but what about God’s Kingdom?
Seldom are Christians told that they need to grow in their Christian life, much less how to grow in this new life. By building a Kingdom Perspective by teaching believers basic doctrines, how to feed themselves from the Word of God, how to worship and pray, and how to make disciples, Believers are less likely to become casualties to the cults, pop psychology and pop philosophy, and they will be better equipped in spiritual warfare; they will also be less likely to simply drop out. Developing Christians in the faith is paramount in closing the church’s back door and in winning more lost souls for the Kingdom of God.
In my ministry, I have enjoyed seeing God use my spiritual gifts of teaching, shepherding, exhortation, wisdom, and intercession to edify, equip, and encourage believers to grow and minister to others.
Jesus said that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that He came to give abundant, eternal life (John 10:10). Quoting from Isaiah 61, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit’s ministry through Him was to preach the Good News to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, and to announce freedom to prisoners. Contrary to the “prosperity gospel”, the abundant life to which Jesus referred is much deeper than material wealth and bodily health.
The Holy Spirit’s ministry through the church doesn’t stop at preaching the Good News. It continues by binding up hurting people, and freeing people who are in spiritual bondage. The whole Gospel must be preached and taught in order that lost people can be saved, broken people can be healed, and bound up people can be set free – all of it done that God be glorified.
Spiritual immaturity can be remedied if we follow Jesus’ example and Commission. It is our responsibility to not only win lost people to Christ, but to grow them up in the faith as well.