Ever since my kids were little, they've wanted to act grown up. They wanted to put on Mom's and Dad's shoes or to talk like us in good and bad ways. In other words, they had a vision of what a mature grown up looked like. So, every few months, they would get excited to measure themselves against the door. For years we have been marking their growth. Even a small bit of growth results in shouts and jumps. They celebrate by looking back at how they have grown over the past few months.
But this got me thinking: How do I spiritually grow my children? I know how to physically grow my children: feed them food, let them sleep and get exercise. But how does one grow them spiritually? To answer this important question, we need to ask several questions that will help bring clarity to the answer we are seeking.
1. What does a mature Christian look like? What are the characteristics of a fully devoted follower of Christ? Here at Westbrook Community Church, we believe that a mature Christian is one who belongs in community (John 13:34), becomes like Christ through relevant teaching (John 8:31) and is a blessing to the world (John 15:8). That is why every month we offer ministries to give the youth an opportunity to grow in these areas. We desire to see the youth become contributors rather than consumers. To see them digging into God's Word rather than relying solely on the preacher's teachings. To see them seeking to bless others through service and sharing their faith. A process that will take time but something we are committed to seeing.
2. Who is involved in the process of spiritual growth? The answer is God, the student, the parent and the local church. Each one of these entities are essential to spiritual growth. Some play more of a vital role than others.
- The first and most important contributor is God. The student needs God, because with Him, transformation into the character of Christ takes place.
- Second, the student needs to take responsibility to grow. They need to present themselves on a daily basis to God by reading His Word and obeying it.
- Third, a person who plays a big role in the spiritual growth of the student is the parent. God has placed the parent in the life of the student to train the student in the way that they should go, that is, in Christ-likeness. The parent helps the student grow personally and individually.
- Fourth, the church plays a vital role in the student's life. It is the primary task of the church to equip and mature the student in community. The church's role is public and corporate. The church consists of not only the pastor and leaders, but also all the believers in the community. We are all called to serve, admonish, encourage and love one another.
3. What is the process of spiritual growth? Just as a child moves through physical stages, Christians move through a spiritual process. Knowing where your child is in that process makes it easier to get them where they should be going. These are the stages, using a plant as an analogy: The Seed (the Gospel which is able to save the lost), The Roots (Faith), The Growth (the Word and Obedience) and The Fruit (visible attributes of a Christian life). But growth also happens in an ideal Environment (Fellowship, Trials, and Grace) and the Gardener (God).
By having children of my own, I have come to realize over the years that they are often looking for role models to imitate. It is my prayer, therefore, that the hopes and dreams I have for them for the future are what I am living today. I pray that they will become strong Christians, who belong in community, become like Christ and are blessings to the world. I pray the same for our youth in Westbrook Community Church.