Growing to maturity

When it comes to launching successful groups, having a plan is essential. And part of success must be viewed as creating spiritual maturity.

It’s unfortunate, but many churches assume that spiritual maturity happens automatically, so they have no real plan for helping their members grow in Christ. That’s why I encourage churches to be purpose driven, where they have a plan, not only for evangelism, but also for leading their members into a deeper level of Christian maturity.

That’s also why we use the model of a baseball diamond at Saddleback, so members, as well as the staff, can, in some small way, measure the progress they’re making in their Christian walk.

I think many churches are afraid to measure progress because they’ve bought into one (or more) of the six myths below:


Maturity Myth #1: “Spiritual growth is automatic once you are born again.”

Evidently a lot of churches believe this myth, because they have no organized plan for following-up new believers and no comprehensive strategy for developing members to maturity. They assume that Christians will automatically grow to maturity if they attend church services. Yet, the truth is that spiritual growth is intentional. It requires a commitment to grow. A person must want to grow, decide to grow, and make an effort to grow.

Maturity Myth #2 : “Spiritual growth is mystical and maturity is attainable by only a select few.”

The truth is that spiritual growth is very practical. Any believer can grow to maturity if he or she will develop the habits necessary for spiritual growth. Paul often compared training for the Christian life to the way athletes prepare themselves and stay in shape. We need to take the mystery out of spiritual growth by breaking the components down into practical, everyday habits.

Maturity Myth #3 : “Spiritual maturity can occur instantly if you just find the right ‘key.’”

Many sincere Christians spend their entire lives earnestly searching for an experience, a conference, a revival, a book, a tape, or a single truth that will instantly transform them into a mature believer. Their search is futile. The truth is that spiritual growth is a gradual process of development. There are no shortcuts to maturity.

Maturity Myth #4 : “Spiritual maturity is measured by what you know.”

Many churches evaluate spiritual maturity solely on the basis of how well you can identify Bible characters, interpret Bible passages, quote Bible verses, and explain biblical theology. While knowledge of the Bible is foundational to spiritual maturity, it isn’t the total measurement of it.

The truth is that maturity is demonstrated more by behavior than by beliefs. The Christian life isn’t just a matter of creeds and convictions; it includes conduct and character.

Maturity Myth #5 : “Spiritual growth is a personal and private matter.”

This is an American aberration of the truth. The idolatry of individualism in our culture has influenced even the way we think about spiritual growth. So much of the teaching on spiritual formation is self-centered and self-focused without any reference to our relationship to other Christians. This is completely unbiblical and ignores much of the New Testament. The truth is that Christians need relationships to grow. We don’t grow in isolation from others. We develop in the context of fellowship.

Maturity Myth #6 : “All you need is Bible study to grow.”

Many evangelical churches have been built on this myth. I call them “Classroom churches.” The truth is that it takes a variety of experiences with God to produce true spiritual maturity. In addition to Bible study, it takes worship experiences, ministry experiences, fellowship experiences, and evangelism experiences.

In other words, spiritual growth occurs by participating in all five purposes of the church! Mature Christians do more than study the Christian life – they experience it!

If you’d like to know more about this, please read my book, “The Purpose Driven Church.”


Have a question or an insight? Leave it below!

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director


Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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