Last night I met with an elder board from another church in town and someone asked me what we do at Antioch to help people grow spiritually.
The first thing I said was that I had messed up by under emphasizing small groups when we started and that there really wasn’t any other formal discipleship process (both are things that we hope to change in September).
I then want on to add this… “Even though we don’t really have anything formal to help people grow spiritually, there literally are dozens of people who are growing like weeds and are beginning to study scripture, seek advice, ask people to pray for them and birthing new ministries etc.”
I continued by saying, “Every church I’ve been a part of treats spiritual growth like a doctor would treat a surgery. What we’ve learned at Antioch, without looking for it, is that one of the best ways to help people get healthy is to set a goal other than health. Lots of people aim at eating right and exercising, but never follow through with it. Others, however, set their sights on a big goal, like running a marathon, and that vision compels them to eat well and exercise. In other words, the marathon drives growth better than the desire for growth drives growth.”
I then said that “Antioch has been trying to show people the world and the potential that they have to change it. And, even though we haven’t had a lot of set programs, the people who have caught the vision and are setting their sights on being significant and making a difference are, by nature of that goal, growing spiritually.”
It’s a principle that we are learning by accident, but its one that I see everywhere in scripture. Jesus when he called Peter told him that he was going to make him a “fisher of men.” And then when Jesus again commissioned Peter after the resurrection he switched metaphors and said, “Feed my sheep.”
I think it is important to see that in both instances Jesus did more than give Peter a bunch of do’s and don’ts and instructions on how to “be the man”… rather, he simply focused him on the marathon. Jesus pointed Peter to the goal.
I believe that in America, where the focus is far too often on ourselves and our own self actualization, we really need to get this. Jesus would have us focus on his calling in our lives… he would have us look to the big picture and the overarching goals… he would point us to the people who need to be loved… and if we catch that vision, the little pieces will fall into place.
If we commit to the marathon, we’ll naturally grow.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10