Spiritual Growth

For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
– Galatians 5:22-23

Are you growing spiritually? How would you know? The apostle Paul in Galatians 5 mentions five “fruits of the spirit.” Think of them as the byproduct of a spiritual life:
  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • generosity
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

Spiritual things are those intangible things that make life worth living. You can see, taste, touch, hear, or smell them, but they are critical. What is a life without love of any kind?

Are you growing spiritually? Are you more loving than you were this time last year? Are you kinder? More gentle? More generous? 

Surveys show people come to the church looking for spiritual community. They are spiritually hungry. Unfortunately, they often find communities that are so tied up in buildings, budgets, and the like that spirituality takes a back seat. The come because they are thirsty for the water of life, and sometimes they find only induction into the club and an introduction to club rules. 

 
How do you grow spiritual redwoods? Consider the times that you have grown spiritually in your life. What were the catalysts? Sometimes it’s getting out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we are even forced out of our comfort zones by events out of our control. At times we grow because of relationships. Other times because we have made space in our lives for God to act, through silence or prayer. 
 

How is your congregation teaching spiritual practices that draw people into a deeper faith life? Practices such as:

  • Prayer and silence. If prayer is talking to God, what percent should be listening? Are we teaching many different ways to pray. How are we encouraging people to set aside time for prayer daily? Consider reading Learning to Pray Again. How is prayer taught from the pulpit, in small groups, in new member classes?
  • Bible reading. Reading the Bible carefully and prayerfully can be a powerful tool for spiritual insight and growth. Stories like the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and many others are known by people in nearly every culture. Most homes in the U.S. have a Bible, and now many people have it for free on their phones. There’s even a free app that will read the Bible to you on your phone or in your car (Bible. is). Consider a congregational plan to read through the Bible.
  • Worship. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” Hebrews 10:25. Perhaps you are looking for a worshipping community within our congregation. Praying together, in community, can be a springboard for spiritual growth. Hearing a sermon that inspires and challenges can start us on new pathways.
  • Join a Group. Most churches offer small groups and ministry opportunities. A weekly Bible study group is a good place to begin. Pray and ask God where you could “plug in.” How is your congregation seeding small groups that allow people to talk about faith in community?
  • Go on a Pilgrimage. Getting out of your comfort zone, out of your routine, out of your culture can help you see the world with new eyes. Going on a prayer retreat or serving the less fortunate in another community will spark new beginnings.
  • Give. Give of your time and of your financial resources. Giving helps us live beyond ourselves. Give of your time and treasure wisely, but give generously, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Fall Spiritual Growth Series

How might a congregation encourage all of these things? Each fall we invite congregations to do a series that invites people to participate in daily devotions with prayer and Bible reading, to participate in a weekly small group discussion, and to worship weekly. The series culminates in an invitation to serve and give. In other words, every fall you are inviting and reinventing every person who participates in your community to jump in.Each Lent (the 40 days before Easter) we have a six-week period to grow deeper in faith as well. We have focused on prayer, world hunger, and other topics.Here are some recent series:

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
– Ephesians 4:2

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
-1 Peter 4:10

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
-1 Thessalonians 5:11