“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…,” Jesus commanded His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20a, NASB).
This, the Great Commission, is the most important work of the Christian Church. To accomplish this vital mission, the Christian church must be a place that is conducive to the Spiritual growth of her members.
And the ministry of the Word of God through preaching and teaching is a must for our spiritual growth. But how does a local church become a place that is conducive to the spiritual growth of her members?
To expand on this point, consider a parable Jesus taught about how seeds that are planted in the earth grow:
“The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head” (Mark 4:26-28, NASB).
In effect, when a person sows seed in the ground, the seed first takes root in the soil below. Then the crop pierces the soil and progresses to maturity. But remember, Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like this. So this is a Kingdom principle.
Let’s take this concept and talk about the ministry of the Word. It is like a seed that is sown in the hearts of men. Eventually, it takes root in their heart and over time it produces fruit or spiritual growth in the life of the believer.
The important thing to bear in mind is that this process—the time it takes for the Word to take root and to produce fruit–differs for each of us. In other words, seeds sown in different places will produce differently based on the soil in which they are sown.
Three Ways Churches Hinder Spiritual Growth
Local churches must cooperate with this process if they want to be a place that is conducive to spiritual growth. Here are three ways local churches work against the process.
1. Failure to provide or downplaying the importance of sound doctrine. This is first and foremost. As for our spiritual growth, nothing can take the place of sound doctrine. This gets at the heart of the Kingdom principle Jesus shared. Whenever the Word of God is being preached or taught, the minister is the sower and the seed is the Word of God. But the quality of the seed sown is only as good as the quality of the doctrine being presented.
Hence, a local church where the leaders are not committed to providing sound doctrine is not conducive to the spiritual growth of her members. Accordingly, Paul writes to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
2. Judging one person’s spiritual development or the lack thereof by that of another. Each person is on his or her journey with the Lord. Some people will take longer to get where they need to be (Remember the Kingdom principle we began with).
Instead of being critical, we should lovingly encourage others in the Lord and pray for their spiritual growth. The Lord has begun a good work in each believer, and He knows how to complete that good work (Phil. 1:6).
3. Intolerance toward disagreement of church teachings. The one thing we must all agree on to enter heaven is that believing in and trusting upon Christ’s redemptive work on the cross is the only way to heaven. We will never get to the point that we all agree on every point.
Even as a pastor, I don’t expect everyone who listens to me to agree with everything I say in the pulpit. We must not be so quick to label each other as heretics. Let us be confident that everyone who is growing will become more properly aligned with biblical truths over time—if we will love them forward.
The ministry of the Word and how it takes root and produces fruit in the life of the believer is a mystery. Jesus says regarding the sower, “He goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know.”
It is important for church leaders and church members to believe in this mysterious and transforming power of the Word. The more they believe in that transforming power and the more they cooperate with and not impede the process, the more conducive the church environment will be for the spiritual growth of the body.
Copyright © 2019 by Frank King. All rights reserved.