In late August, the joint Staff-Pastor-Parish Relations Committee (SPPRC) of Berlin Center and LeValley Churches met with District Superintendent Reverend Doctor Margie Crawford to discuss the condition of the two churches and the relationship with the pastor.
One of the questions she asked of the committee members was “are the congregations growing spiritually?” I was aware of a hesitation by those present as to how to answer the query. It opened my eyes to the fact that even though I thought I was teaching about spiritual growth in my sermons, the principles were most likely buried within the rest of the messages.
Spiritual growth is such an integral part of our faith walk, that I made the decision to totally focus on it in this article. I hope you will read this more than once and apply some of my suggestions to your life. Should you have questions or want to learn more, please let me know.

Spiritual growth is detailed in 2 Peter 1:3-8, " His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

So, briefly, spiritual growth includes: (1) increasing in your knowledge and understanding of God's Word, (2) decreasing in your frequency and severity of sin, (3) increasing in your practice ofChrist-like qualities, and (4) increasing in your faith and trust in God. Perhaps the best summary of spiritual growth is becoming more like Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of what it truly means to be spiritual.

Just as a baby needs to do certain things to grow physically, so Christians need certain kinds of activities to grow spiritually. When members don't grow, it is because they lack one or more of the following: 1. A desire to grow, spiritual food-nourished through the means of grace which are reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others, regularly share in the sacraments, Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), and Bible study, doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others, seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination (for instance Wesley challenged Methodists to end slavery), and addressing the needs of the poor. Some of these we can practice individually, while others we accomplish communally. We are empowered and guided in growing through the means of grace by the Holy Spirit. 2. Time and patience. Remember that people who may be mature today did not get that way overnight. It took years of study and practice. New converts will not become mature overnight. New members should not get discouraged and give up. Older members should not be impatient or overly demanding. Remember how our children took time to grow, and how we had to show patience with their immature ways as they grew. But growth will come as long as people are trying and we give them time. 3. Don’t be discouraged by mistakes and rebukes. Faithful Christians are not people who live without ever sinning, but people who learn from their mistakes and go on to serve God faithfully.

There is a Chinese Proverb that says, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials” The Apostle Paul stated: “For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).” Paul assures us as Christians that what God started in us he will finish. It will be perfected or matured until the Lord Jesus returns.
Pastor Nancy
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