In a previous post, “Numbing our souls with church activities,” I said that church programs and activities keep us busy doing “good things” to the point that our souls become numbed to our real issues that we should be dealing with. However, recognizing the danger in filling our lives with programs and activities is only the first step, and the remaining steps toward growth are not easy.
To begin with, when we step away from the church programs and activities, we often learn that we don’t know how to serve people, to disciple people, to evangelize people, to teach people. All we know how to do is to attend programs. Even those who lead the programs often find themselves lost with the structures and confines of the program or activities.
This is probably most obvious when it comes to fellowship and activities. Often, those people that we feel closest to in the programs disappear when the program ends. We find that we do not really have relationships with those people. At the best, we have an acquaintance with one another.
It is a painful realization when we discover that we are actually very immature when it comes to service, teaching, evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship. The pain is enhanced for those of us who have been Christians for a long time. The pain, unfamiliarity, and discomfort often lead Christians to assume that it is wrong to move away from the programs and activities, and they begin to fill their lives with them again.
Once Christians grow beyond this stage, they began to form real relationships with other people. This is the next difficult step in growing past church programs and activities. Why? Because when we truly begin to grow in our relationships with one another, we learn people’s flaws as well as their strengths, and people learn about our flaws as well as our strengths as well. We can no longer hide behind church programs and activities.
Not only do we now have to learn to accept people in spite of their weaknesses, we have to trust other people with our own weaknesses. If we never reach this stage, then again our mutual growth will be hindered.
Once we are able to admit that we don’t truly know how to love God and others (because we had only been attending programs and activities), and once we admit that we don’t know how to build relationships with one another (we’ve only been acquaintances before), we are finally able to begin growing together.
The task is not easy. In fact, apart from Christ working in and through us by the Holy Spirit, the task is completely impossible. However, as we surrender ourselves to Christ together and learn to listen to, encourage, admonish, and help one another, we will find amazing growth toward maturity in Christ as a group.