Growing Toward Maturity

Taigen Joos


Many elements helped contribute to the immaturity that is evident in the American church today. The accommodation with pop culture, an infatuation with self, an overemphasis on “reaching the youth,” and the adoption of a consumeristic mindset when it comes to the local church are just a few key aspects that have led to where we are today.

These things have led to emotional immaturity, biblical illiteracy, and theological weakness, which has in turn produced an American church that is continuing to slide deeper into a shallow Christianity, at best.

What can we do?

I propose a few thoughts for consideration.

Our homes must model and teach spiritual maturity.

When it comes to spiritual discipleship to maturity, the starting place must be in the homes. I understand that not every home includes a saved mom and dad in it. However, the Bible speaks more to that kind of situation than to others. Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and Ephesians 6:4 make it plain that Christian parents are to take the lead in the discipleship responsibility for not only their own lives, but also for their children.

As Christian parents, we should work hard at communicating well with our children about life and spiritual matters. If we are not engaging them in good conversations at ages four, five, and six, it will be so much more difficult to try to engage them when they are fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen.

However, we cannot merely talk at our children about spiritual things, we must also talk with them. Ask probing questions to them; find out what they are thinking; point their thoughts to the authority of the Scripture and to the grace of God in the gospel. If all we do is “lecture” our kids, they will soon tune us out. However, if we interact with them, and they know they can ask us whatever they want, there will be open communication and growth in maturity as a result, as well as godly fruit produced throughout their teenage and young adult lives.

As Christian parents, we must also model maturity before our children. If they do not see two Christian parents interacting with each other in a biblical, loving, and mature way, they will look elsewhere to find it, and perhaps look in the wrong places. What do your kids see in your marriage relationship that would model Christian maturity before them?

Churches must emphasize biblical discipleship.

When it comes to the church as a body, biblical discipleship needs to be emphasized. The American church has become very good and scheduling events, activities, and classes, but there is a general weakness in actual biblical discipleship.

It is not enough that “discipleship comes from the pulpit.” Discipleship is people interacting with people and growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Biblical discipleship also goes beyond a twelve-lesson curriculum. It is being involved in people’s lives, loving them, being concerned about them, carrying their burdens before the Lord, and serving them. It is a life-to-life-for-life endeavor.

This kind of biblical discipleship needs to be emphasized, modeled, and implemented more in our churches. This personal discipleship paradigm will contribute to the spiritual maturity of everyone who participates in it.

Our worship services must be reverent and God-centered.

Whether we believe it or not, our worship services are a shaping influence upon our lives. Are they helping to form people’s lives towards maturity, or away from it?

Reverence is a non-negotiable in worship. Hebrews 12:28–29 make that clear. Irreverence, casualness, and unpreparedness does not contribute to the kind of worship that will communicate something great about God.

If we want our people to grow in emotional and spiritual maturity, then what they participate in when it comes to corporate worship needs to be biblically shaped, reverential in nature, and prayerfully planned. Doing so will help God’s people form their affections and tastes towards maturity.

Pastors, we must take the corporate worship service seriously, and teach our people to do the same.

Our younger generation must spend more time with the older generation.

Whether or not you hold to a full-out “integrationist” approach when it comes to children in the church, no one can doubt the fact that when young people learn to interact more with adults, it is beneficial to both the younger and the older. The older enjoy the refreshing energy of the younger, and the younger learn and grow from the wisdom, maturity, and experience of the older.

Young people learn how to pray better when they can pray with adults and listen to the adults pray.

Young people learn how to worship better when they can worship with adults.

If our young people are only spending time with younger people and being influenced by younger people, they will be hard pressed to get out of their spiritual immaturity.

Do more to get your young people interacting with the older generation of your church.

May God help us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God.

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