Spiritual Maturity and its Importance

We are called to spiritual growth—that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation and growth. Instead, we experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (Hebrews chap 1-6; James 1).

Research Conducted between 1996 and 2010:

· Eighty-three percent (83%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said their people were content in their Christian faith.

· Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they had no regular or effective discipleship program or effort to mentor their people at their church.

· Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was no primary teaching from the pulpit to challenge or deepen their people’s Christian formation (spiritual growth and biblical application) at their church.

· Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they either are or will focus on new trends or ideas to try fix something they feel is not working right. Seventy percent (70%) stated this is where their primary time is spent, whereas only 22% of those sought answers for their church problems from God’s Word, good theological sources, or going to more trained and experienced pastors for advice.

· Sixty-nine percent (69%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 70% of their congregation members do not assess their spiritual journey or have a means to effectively examine their spiritual lives, such as a mentor or pastor to talk with.

· Sixty-eight percent (68%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 68% of their congregational members are not in an accountability or small group.

· Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there is no significant effort from the leadership to be devoted, as a church, to spiritual growth. Most think this is to be from the pulpit only and/or in the privacy of the member’s home.

· Sixty-two percent (62%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was little to no effort in teaching spiritual maturity or Christian formation from the small groups, such as doctrine, prayer, and/or essentials of growing in Christ.

· Sixty-one percent (61%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that their duty as leaders was first to pursue their faith, or else placed it as a significant factor. 

© 2008, Research from 1996- 20107, , Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org

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Spiritual Maturity in Leadership is Essential!

The relationship of Law and Gospel, not understanding this will cause false teaching and or a weak church. If you do not get this, you do not belong in leadership. If you are not maturing in the faith, then do not be a leader.

 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:…”

Philippians 2:5-11

Nothing is more distressing than a church filled with people who do not have respect for those who are in spiritual authority over them. Conversely, nothing is more discouraging to a congregation than immature and irresponsible spiritual leadership. Many churches move away from Christ and their call and thus go under every year mainly because of pride, arrogance, bitterness, envy, and strife, the opposites of what God calls us to–the opposites of maturity (Phil. 2:5-11).

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PIII

The Importance Of Our Motivation and Inspiration

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53: 12

I live in the Los Angeles area, the home of a basketball team called the “Lakers,” even though there is no lake. Anyway, they are one of the top teams in the league, with several championship wins, and usually have two or three exceptional star players. During the end of the regular season in 2004, the Lakers were losing. They had to win two very important games with teams I had never heard of (what can I say, I am just not much of a sports guy when it comes to “foreign” teams), or they would not be in the finals. Then, for the key game, one of their star players, Kobe Bryant, just did not show up. The team was down and unmotivated. Their coach, Phil Jackson, took the rest of the twelve players into the locker room and told them that each one of them had the capability to win. Together, they could win without that star player, or any star player. Then he told them, you have become lazy, relying on Kobe and Shaq and not stepping up yourselves. Then he said, “you all must step up and perform.” They went out, and won.

Do you “step up?” What motivates you in the Christian life?

What is your source of inspiration outside of the Scriptures? Do you just rely on others, or do you and can you “step up” in your faith, reaching out to others to win the game that Christ has put you in? The key to stepping up is motivation. Coach Jackson is a skilled motivator, which is why he has a lot of championship rings. We do not need the ring when we know who we are in Christ and when He is our motivation!

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Most of us will look to our creeds and confessions for motivation, and for good reason. But, I want to extend further into our personal responsibility. That is, how can we take our faith so seriously that it becomes more personal and real, and all our thoughts, ideas, directions, goals, and inspirations go in the direction of serving our Lord? How do we take our faith to a deeper level, “step up” so it is ours and personal, and not just because this is what our families are and do, and not just because we are part of a good church, school, or work? How do we “step up” so that our faith is solely because of what Christ has done for us and nothing else?

The key is in allowing the work of the Holy Spirit in us. However, we have a responsibility to respond, to grow, and to build on what we are given. It takes trust, faith, and the surrender of our will, our dreams, and our ideas over to the LORDSHIP of Christ. We must acknowledge that He is Lord of us because of His love for us, and that His ways are better than ours. Christ is our King; so, let us live our lives in response to what He has done for us!

© 1992, 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PII

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

One of the clearest evidences of being a mature Christian is the realization that the municipal center of the Christian life is Jesus Christ as our LORD. He seeks to bring us closer to Himself by His love, joy, and peace so that we may share His love with those around us. This is the key that conveys God’s purpose for His people and those around them.

Spiritual maturity involves an increased awareness and knowledge for the need to be in Christ, and not to be living just to oneself.

When we have an increased need that goes beyond our self, and beyond our self-confidence so our confidence is in our Lord and the Holy Spirit; then our self-confidence becomes rooted in and dependent on Christ working through us. We become Christ driven, not self-driven. As a result, our determination becomes more surrendered to God’s will as He becomes the driving force for our lives and existence. This means as we grow in Christ, we are surrendering more of our will, desires, and plans unto our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians, we see that we have purpose, direction, and our lives and ministries are filled with Christ’s power.

We will realize that we need mentorship and support from other mature believers. What does this look like? We will have a life that comes from the impact of the Spirit and the disciplines of the faith. As we learn, we grow; and as we grow, we engage in prayer, study, exercising our gifts, worship, love, and fellowship that draws us closer to God and others and that facilitates further spiritual formation. We will have a firm, forward, and moving commitment and trust in Christ’s work.

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PI

What does it Mean to be a Mature Christian?

What are you willing to do to become one? If you have spent any significant time in the Christian faith, you will have observed that all of us are not on the same playing field of faith and maturity. We Christians have all had different experiences in life, different reactions to those experiences, and different ways of understanding and applying our faith to those situations. These experiences and the decisions we make concerning them all converge to shape us into who we are today and who we will be tomorrow. Coupled with this is the work of the Holy Spirit, guiding and molding us, seeking to penetrate the barriers of our stubborn pride and will. The Holy Spirit does not, although He certainly is able to, overwrite us. He works within us as a gentle change agent, a voice of meekness (as strength under control), desiring us to respond to our life’s circumstances with character and maturity.

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Psalm 119:89-90

Growing in faith encompasses more than just asking Christ into our lives and hearts, and goes far beyond baptism or our church membership. It means being a disciple.

Discipleship goes further than our conversion, our acceptance of Christ as Savior, our election, or any initiation we could conceive of into the Christian life. Why is that? Because our initiation is extended by Christ, and is only the beginning. The first step we take, receiving Him by faith through His Grace, is the entrance into the faith and Christian life. Accepting our election in Christ is not the only act of being a Christian! Yet, so many live their lives as if this were so.

It would be like joining a ritzy, fancy, exclusive club, but never venturing into that club. Therefore, we would never use the exercise equipment, never swim in the pool, never play on the golf course, never rest in the steam room or partake of the networking, fellowship, and the fun.

We would never go to the parties or the dining, and would miss the connections because we never attended. Thus, we would get virtually nothing out of it, except the satisfaction that we had joined. The only prestige we would have is the membership card on our dresser. It is the same with becoming a Christian. We might join the ultimate “club,” but never use it or let it help develop our connections and depth with God and others. Yes, we may be saved, but if all the opportunities have been set aside, forgotten, and missed, oh, how sad that would be. Perhaps, you think all you have to do is be baptized as a public initiation, profession, or dedication, and then sit yourself in a pew of compliance and comfort, thinking, I did my part; the rest is up to others. Acceptance of what Christ has done is to be the door through which we walk in faith, as is our public profession or testimony of our faith. It does not stop there. It starts there! Why talk more on this? If we do not “get” this, we will never develop our net to be used for fishing because we will not have the materials to do so.

How to be a Capable Leader

There is no substitute to time spent in the face of our Lord! 

The capable leader for any church or ministry must be rooted in Christ first and foremost! Like a Bible student who is and grounded in the spiritual disciplines of the faith, whose drive is their passionate love relationship to the Lordship of Christ which give the knowledge base and empowerment for ministry. And what flows out of it is the desire to love God’s people, to herd them with love into the pastures of maturity. To lead where the leader has been before, and the people have not been. The mature Christian or leader must exhibit the maturity of the Christian life as the result of their growth and experience in the faith. An effective leader cannot be new to the faith. Even the Apostle Paul spent three years being discipled by Barnabas, and he received his call and was empowered directly from Christ Himself. I have seen too many immature Christians who lead by who they are in society, and not who they are in Christ.

A few years ago while on staff at a church, we received a family who came to faith at a crusade, and the father was the founder of a major fast food franchise. So in less than a year he was my boss, and the president and ruling Elder of the congregation. Now he was a great guy and very successful in business, but he did not know how to run a church. So he instinctually ran it like a business and his policies failed. He did not know how to lead in a church, which is more like a family and less like a business and much different than in a corporation, even though a lot of the principles are transferable. After several years he did become a good leader as he matured in the faith. But the church suffered during his learning curve needlessly.

There is no substitute to time spent in the face of our Lord, with a surrendered heart and a learning will. We must be willing to be humble no matter who we are and our experience.

I had to learn this lesson a few years back when I went from being on staff at a large and influential church to a small church in a small town. My first thought before accepting the call was that I was too good for it. But God wanted me there to teach me to walk closer to him, and not walk in the position that I held. So I did, and I experienced humbleness. Nobody knew me as the conference speaker or author or big position in a big church, but just a youth pastor in a small church. But this is where Christ wanted me, and I learned a lot. It prepared me for the road He had for me. And I’m glad I went there because I learned things in a broader context, that I could not have in a large “mega” church.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:15-16; 22-24)

This passage is a testimony to the importance of holiness, and to keep ourselves growing in our spiritual lives so that our emotional selves are impacted and grow too.

Spiritual maturity will lead into emotional maturity most of the time, unless there is some physiological or psychological problem, or deep stress that has never been resolved. It is imperative for the leader to be in control of their emotional health. If not, they need to step down and seek help both spiritually and psychologically. If the leader is given to fits of rage or is just overly emotional, they cannot set the example that Christ has. We are not to be Vulcan’s exhibiting pure logic and no emotions, absolutely not. God created us as emotional beings, but as with anything we must have control of the excess and the potential for rampage.

Is Spiritual Maturity Important in the Church?

Look what we at the Schaeffer Institute found: 

We are called to spiritual growth—that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation and growth. Instead, we experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (Hebrews chap 1-6; James 1). 

Eighty-three percent (83%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said their people were content in their Christian faith. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they had no regular or effective discipleship program or effort to mentor their people at their church. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was no primary teaching from the pulpit to challenge or deepen their people’s Christian formation (spiritual growth and biblical application) at their church. 

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they either are or will focus on new trends or ideas to try fix something they feel is not working right. Seventy percent (70%) stated this is where their primary time is spent, whereas only 22% of those sought answers for their church problems from God’s Word, good theological sources, or going to more trained and experienced pastors for advice. 

More here:

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44952&columnid=4545