Monday, January 16, 2012

Why spiritual growth plans suck

I originally posted this over at the NPC Group Coaching Blog...but thought it warranted a repost over here as well.

As we’re going through this series “MOVE,” you’re going to hear a lot about systems and practices that we’re examining here at NPC. As a group leader, this is “right in your wheelhouse” as I like to say. You guys ARE the “system” for spiritual growth and development at NPC…and when I forget about that, I get seriously pissed off.


Because when I start to think that I can “mass produce” disciples, or that in some way we can put a system behind creating authentic spirituality, or there’s a short-cut to becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ, there is only 1 place I’m going to end up: Complete and utter disappointment.

The reality is that spiritual growth isn’t systematic. It’s organic. I know, I know…”organic” what does that buzzword even mean? It just means that spiritual growth isn’t a “Do A, then B, then C, then…” type of approach. And our 21st century, post-modern, western civilization minds have a very hard time with that.

We want steps.

We want action plans.

We want X, Y, Z.

We want to put people through a spiritual wringer, have it squeeze out all the crap, put a bunch of Bible knowledge and humility in its place, and then have them come out squeaky clean the other side.

But that’s not what we have in the Bible.

Instead we have this Jesus who doesn’t say, “Hey guys, come check out this 7 point plan,” he says instead “Follow me.”

As we follow him, like the disciples we will have times where we’re going forward and gaining ground in our faith…and times when we’re falling backwards.

As a group leader, it’s so frustrating to see the people you care about doing that. I personally just want to grab a hold of them to make things better…to try to give them some sort of “do this, then that, then this” advice…

But it’s just not the way Jesus works.

Instead, I need to be constantly pointing them back to him. Not to some system. Directing people to the God they should be walking with, spending time with, following and learning from.

As a group leader, so should you.

And for those of us who want to take the people in our group, or in our church, and physically “move” them to the next phase of their spiritual growth…that is mindbogglingly frustrating.

Yes, we should be equipping people. Yes we should be helping to create communities where they can connect with other believers in life giving relationships. Yes we should have opportunities for them to learn and grow and stretch and serve.

But at the end of the day, none of that changes lives. Jesus does.

Screw everything else, and just spend your time pointing people back to him. Over and over again.