Shift Responsibility, Fuel Your Growth

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?


  1. natheniel fernandes on August 11, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Hi, Nice article ..
    Its the pastor responsibility to guide the church how to grow spiritually. For this the pastor needs to first himself be established in the faith, rooted and built-up in Christ and fulfill God’s eternal purpose as per Ephesians 3:11. If a pastor does not know these requirements himself, then the scripture states “he is proud, knowing nothing” see 1 Timothy 6:3-4. If a pastor know these requirements then he simply passes on to the church and its then God’s turn to establish the believers to grow spiritually. Most bible believing churches go about establishing their own self-righteousness instead submitting to the righteousness of God as Paul complained the same about the nation Israel in Romans 10:3. The pastor needs to know first himself from scripture how God commands to read his book. Did you know that in scripture itself God commands every saved believer – how to read his book following a certain doctrinal progression so to speak? God is not the author of confusion 1 Cor 14:33. Just google on how to read the bible and you will get a million of different opinions.

  2. william on February 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    is there anything new under the sun…how can such an obvious truth be so celebrated as new..cynical appraisal I realize..however the fact that we come to such conclusions that have to be twittered and facebooked shows how shallow we are in the first place..

    • Carey on February 12, 2010 at 9:24 am

      William…so sorry you feel that way. I agree nothing’s new under the sun. I just think it’s great that we get to share what’s old in a timely way. Have a great day!

  3. Kevin J. Zimon on February 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Thank-you for this post Carey.
    Lately I have been looking for someone to blame for MY lack of spiritual growth
    Now that I have read your blog I realized that the true culprit sits just below my hat and a little above my shoes.
    I can now make the proper adjustments to my life and once again steer my growth in the right direction.
    Keep up the great work!

  4. Tim L. Walker on February 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Obviously the onus needs to fall on the individual, but if the church isn’t properly facilitating, managing and nurturing environments for spiritual growth to take place, the church isn’t serving it’s purpose and, really, doing a dis-service to it’s members. A lot of churches get hung up on number and statistics – year-over-year growth, attendance spikes, etc… but if these people that are bumping the stats of the church aren’t being nurtured or experiencing spiritual growth, while it’s ultimately up to the individual, it’s something that the church needs to address and take responsibility for. Eventually the stats will level out if the church isn’t meeting the needs of the congregation.

  5. Kevin Yoho on February 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Great stuff here in this post. My work with 41 Presbyterian congregations in northern New Jersey correlates with your assessment: We have enabled a church culture that is responsibility-averse (Galatians 6:7-9). Thank you for reminder that healthy people and organizations take responsibility for their behaviors. I am inviting my congregations to become healthy, to become a Reciprocal Church. Take a look: . I follow you on twitter.
    Thanks again for your post and Web site.

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