Thursday, September 29, 2005

Blueprint for Maturity???

I get an e-mail newsletter that goes out to thousands of people each week from Rick Warren of Saddleback. This week included an article entitled Demystify Spiritual Growth. After reading the article, I saw several valid points, but the overall application seems off.

While correctly stating that there is "no magic bullet" that will ensure instant spiritual maturity and acknowledging that "spiritual growth is a gradual process of development", I think Warren misses with this statement:
We need to take the mystery out of spiritual growth by breaking the components down into practical, everyday habits.
If there is no "magic bullet", is there then a step by step formula? Can we not have practicality and mystery?

Ephesians 3 speaks to the issue of maturity. There, Paul describes the glorious riches of God strengthening the believer with power through his Spirit in our inner being. He mentions the capacity of God to do immeasurably more than we can dream. He prays that the believers would know the love that is beyond knowledge. Knowing the unknowable...

That just doesn't sound all that cut-and-dried-practical to me. Don't get me wrong, there's far more to Christ following spirituality than incense and candle wax. But I'm just not sure that if we get into the habit of doing A, B, and C - then we'll become spiritually mature. Maybe we'll just become pretty habitual.

[Last weekend at the Priority 22 that I blogged about a couple days ago, I sat in on a workshop from Dan Cravatt of NCC that dealt with Spiritual Maturity. We focused on the Ephesians passage and talked about how Maturity is a process, not just a destination where we can one day say we've arrived.]


  1. I'll have to agree with Dan Cravatt. I mean I understand taking steps toward the process, but I'm not sure that you can take the mystery out. It seems that has happened in too many churches, and now Maturity is defined as attained knowledge.

  2. yep yep...

    So can we not have practicality and mystery?

    There's always a balance I think. We can't just say oh its a mystery... so lets just hope people mature. There has to be a way to translate it into practical application. One of the problems is we many times think... Well this three step process worked for me, so certainly if everyone here will just follow this same easy three step process... or practical daily habits
    Then they too will mature.

    I agree with you and Eph 3 too btw, its a process of allowing God to work in you and through you. Sure we can help people along the way. Develop programs and plans and action steps... but in the end, each person most be able to open their ears and hear from God to continue in this life long journey of maturing

  3. Right, I just don't think we can reduce maturity to the given result of following the right formula. God uses unique circumstances to bring maturity to individuals.

    But... there are some practices that we should be in that can help us keep our hearts and ears open to God's voice.

  4. I can see both sides of the argument, but doesn't the mystery come from what we experience in those habits. If we don't have the habits of spending time with God, being in His word, attending His church how can we experience the mysteries of knowing God if we're never in the places or developing the habits that help us encounter GOd. I don't think the two are counter productive i think they have to hand in hand.

  5. I agree Justin. The process of spiritual growth is a mystery that occurs in the context of a life lived in constant contact with God. It's not just about spending x amount of hours in Bible study per week, or y amount of time in prayer.

    Hand in hand is a good phrase. Mystery (God working in ways we don't understand) and Practice (Us doing what we know we can do to spend time with our Father).


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