So…who is responsible for your spiritual growth?
If you’ve hung around church for any length of time, you might be tempted to say “my church is”.
At Connexus where I serve, we’ve been talking about that recently. I did a message last month about blame and responsibility that seemed to resonate as deeply as any message we’ve ever done. It got me thinking. Although we’re not suffering from this right now, those of us who have led for a while are far too familiar with Christians who hop from church to church every few years, leaving church after church because they didn’t grow in their faith. They leave, blaming the church and church leadership for failing. I’ve discussed this for years with other church leaders, and we’re all frustrated by it.
Sometimes, churches need to change and admit we are not doing a great job helping people grow. But honestly, sometimes it’s not the church’s issue. The leadership has often done all it can to create environments that help people grow. I wonder if there’s an underlying issue beneath it all that rarely gets addressed. It centers on the answer to this question: who is responsible for your spiritual growth?
The truthful answer is: you are.
I am not responsible for your growth. Your wife isn’t. Your children are not. Nor is your car mechanic or small group leader. The elders are not. Nor is your neighbour across the street. Who’s responsible for your spiritual growth? You are. In exactly the same way that I’m responsible for my growth and development. It would be ludicrous for me to blame you for me not growing spiritually, but that’s what people do all the time to their churches.
Your church can help. We try to create great environments that help people grow. But think of it this way: a chef can set a spectacular dinner table and cater a great meal, but at the end of the day he can’t make you eat or make you have fun. That’s your business. All he can do is create a great environment conducive to wonderful dining.
I have been tremendously helped by great leadership and great teaching in the church over the years. But I’ve also grown under poor leadership, learned from mediocre teachers and even been sharpened in less than ideal community. In fact, I’ve always grown the most when I’ve assumed personal responsibility for my spiritual development and looked for others to help me (not grow me, just help me grow). I’ve grown the least when I’ve slacked off.
I wonder what would happen to the church if Christians took responsibility for their growth? I wonder what would happen if we pursued a personal walk with the same passion we use when we blame others for our failures? I wonder what would happen if we helped each other out and prayed for each other but continued to encourage people to take responsibility for their spiritual growth?
What do you think? Is this an issue you see? What would happen we collectively re-assumed responsibility for our spiritual growth?