Christian Maturity

I got in a little debate on the internet about how much you can expect to be “taught” by the preaching in church… I guess I felt strongly enough to share those thoughts with y’all. Most of this is copied, with a couple little edits thrown in for good measure.

If you expect to be “fed” from a sermon that needs to communicate with people across the whole spectrum of knowledge and experience that inhabit a congregation, in my experience, you will forever be disappointed… if not immediately, then eventually… I haven’t found any evidence in the Bible that this is what the worship service is for, and plenty of evidence that it’s for worshiping God and fellowshipping with other worshipers.

[soap box]

I just did the math, and I’ve been a Christ-follower now for longer than Christ was actually on earth!

There is no way that I can continually grow in grace and knowledge and wisdom and love solely from sermons in that time. No way. No matter how often I switch churches under the misbegotten notion that one will feed me more than another.

No. What it means is that at a certain point I, for the most part, stopped reading the popular Christian books and started reading the less popular more scholarly ones that the author cites in his footnotes at the back of the book where nobody goes.

It means, for me, that I actually taught myself to read enough Greek to be able to understand when a preacher is full of beans when he appeals to a unique Greek word or construct in a sermon (in my experience, at least 75% of the time a preacher tells you that there’s hidden meaning in the Greek, he’s reaching).

Most importantly, it meant that, for me spiritual growth stopped getting measured by the junk I just said in those last two ridiculous paragraphs and more by the way I might love God and show that love by loving my neighbor.

And, it meant that I gave up a long time ago on the notion that improving and expanding head-knowledge and becoming theologically and doctrinally educated means squat in the vast scheme of things we don’t actually really understand anyway. (I don’t need another sermon on the trinity… ever… but maybe the guy who is new to the church does…) Intellectual assent to a list of doctrines and knowledge of theological concepts does not equal discipleship. Otherwise, Jesus wouldn’t have called fishermen and laborers and such to start his church.

It means that at a certain point I stopped being fed. I started feeding somebody else, and as for Christ in John 4:34, that work BECAME my food.

As Andy Stanley puts it “We are educated far beyond our obedience.” Amen. I know I am.

Most every time a friend has ever told me he left one church to go to another, the reason was always, frankly, either a bad reason or a smokescreen for the “search for the new” that USAmericans are always on.

In fact, the only times I’ve heard real legitimate reasons for that, it’s because the person moved, or got hired to WORK at a church, or both.

When I hear somebody talk about leaving a church because they aren’t getting fed, especially if it’s a so-called “mature” Christian… I can’t help but to roll my eyes…

[/soap box]

I may have lost some friends now… Sorry if I offended anyone. I’m even sorrier if I didn’t offend anyone.

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7 thoughts on “Christian Maturity

  1. Tom Talley says:

    You have been reading my mind, sharing my thoughts exactly and perfectly nailed the truth! I am in total agreement with you and have felt this way for years. It really bugs me when supposedly mature Christians leave a church where they are needed to serve because they “aren’t getting fed.” Are they that lost, separated from a close relationship with Jesus where his voice leads them daily as they remain in the word and in prayer daily? I rarely find a sermon that speaks something I’ve never heard rather it just reinforces the truth I’ve already put into practice.

  2. Rev. John Hamm says:

    “I” and “me.” This summarizes the shortcomings I see in your argument, Peter.

    You lift everyone up to your definition to where everyone should be according to your definition of praise and worship, where, in reality, there are an infinite level of places people inhabit in their relationship with our Truine God and many levels and desires of understanding of that relationship.

    Wanting to understand what we worship is a noble and holy endeavor, one that I strive to address in every homily I preach. When the Word of God has been proclaimed I strive to provide guidance to those who need that guidance; to those who need help grasping the words they have just heard. Some are better at understanding it than others. And I certainly hope no one is suggesting here that the Holy Scriptures should be excluded from praise and worship!

    Your post surprises me as the core of it seems to suggest that education in the faith has no place in our worship services. There is no end to teaching and learning; and no venue that excludes them. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our mind. He wants us to grasp Him with our intelligence. He wants us to understand Him; to ponder Him through reason; to worship Him also through our intellect. To separate learning from worship is akin to separating Bible reading from praise. It can’t be done. It should not be attempted.

    I can’t begin to estimate how many of my parishioners have commented on how valuable the lesson I taught them from scripture has been for their spiritual life. Their spiritual life! Everyone has needs. I suspect most need some preaching at that worship service.

    • pietrosquared says:

      Great thoughts, John! Truly.

      I would argue, however, that in your worship service, the center of the service is the Eucharist. In most protestant services, the center of the service is the sermon.

      IMHO, you and the Catholic Church have it WAY more right in this regard.

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