Life on Life Associate
Pastor of Community Life at Christ Central
Every church needs to have an intentional plan for maturing and equipping their members for ministry.
If the spiritual formation pathway is not clear for members to become mature and equipped ministers of the church, there could be great confusion. You might be able to get away with distracting them for a short time, with the glitz and glamor of an amazing praise team, relevant and charismatic preacher, and meeting the needs of sleep-deprived parents by offering great children’s ministry and youth ministry.
But eventually, there will come a time of reckoning.
The Dangers for Members and Volunteers Who Aren’t Maturing Spiritually
Serving in the church can feel like a never-ending job and can even become burdensome. Your volunteer base will wane and grow weary in doing good, and eventually you will be faced with the lack of mature and equipped lay ministry volunteers who will persevere through the years of serving required at most churches.
When you add something as significant as the isolation and dissonance forced by the Pandemic, you have the perfect storm that will reveal the exhaustion of your lay volunteers. They were able to survive because of the community they experienced with their fellow servants, but Covid took all that away.
Those we once thought were our closest friends have chosen to end our friendships over their positions on masks, vaccines, BLM, social justice and now Roe vs. Wade. Wherever we land theologically and philosophically, many of us have been deeply wounded by the division and broken relationships that seem irreparable.
What it has all revealed is that we cannot have confusion about how mature and equipped followers of Christ are produced at our church.
How does anyone at any level of their faith go from their current state of spiritual life to become a disciple who reflects our Savior in their love for God and their neighbor? How do we produce mature and equipped disciples who will live out the great commission and the greatest commandment?
Do you have an intentional spiritual formation pathway at your church? Do your members know that pathway? Do they know where they currently are in that pathway?
Pathways to Spiritual Maturity
At our church, Christ Central, we introduce our members to the spiritual formation pathway that we call the 3 Doors of Christ Central.
This is an intentional way to help our members identify where they are in their spiritual formation. Some attendees have a vague notion that some mention of doors exists while others know exactly where they are. Regardless of their position, we make an effort every year to communicate to everyone the existence of the 3 doors.
Door 1: Community Groups
The first door is our widest door and signifies our community groups (CGs – small groups). CGs have the widest entry to allow anyone at any stage of their spiritual life to find community, care, and connection at our church.
The size varies from 12-25 members with adults and kids and is usually based on their stage of life. It is the most inclusive and low-hanging fruit. The leaders prepare for the meeting, while the members receive care in a safe space and form key connections for community with all people at all spiritual maturities. Group discussions focus on sharing their thoughts on the sermon, a group devotional that is provided, or a book study.
Door 2: Bible Studies
The second door is a bit narrower and signifies a pathway that is more intentional about making gender specific generational connections for its members.
This is our Men’s and Women’s ministry. It is intended to be smaller in number, 6-10 members, with a leader who will focus on a place where men and women can share vulnerably, pray for one another and work towards an intentional devotional life with one another.
It could be a bible study or a book study, but the primary intention is to connect older and younger same gendered men and women who want a smaller group to share vulnerability and to connect deeply.
Door 3: Life-on-Life Missional Discipleship Groups
The third and final door is our life-on-life missional discipleship groups called Journey groups. It is called a journey group because there is a beginning and an end to the journey.
It is our smallest and narrowest door because it cannot be joined voluntarily, but members are selected by qualified leaders who are equipped and prepared to labor in the lives of 2-4 members for 3 years at 1-year renewable commitments. This door is the highest commitment and requires preparation times of 2+ hours, 2-hour meetings each week, and 1-1 meetings with the leaders who pour out their lives to walk alongside their members.
Spiritual Formation Journeys
Our three doors are intentionally designed to help someone who enters the church as a seeker at the Community Group level. They can start by being moved by the maturity and care of their CG leader. As they become a part of the community and watch their leader, we believe they will grow in their desire to grow spiritually as well.
Next, they can join a men’s/women’s ministry group to have a smaller, more intentional group that shares vulnerably, prays together, and keeps one another accountable for a deeper spiritual walk. This in turn could awaken a desire for even greater accountability and greater commitment and walk with even a smaller group of men or women.
This hopefully will be where they place themselves in the waitlist for a journey group or will get selected by a Journey leader.
There is no guilt or shame for each member as to where they are on their spiritual formation pathway. We are all on a journey together and it’s ok to admit where we are on that journey. It is however our job to make it clear that there is an intentional pathway for every person who wants to grow in their maturity and equipping.
There is no other way to make sure that our lay volunteers can withstand the rigors of the sacrifice and weariness that come with serving, unless they have been intentionally invested into by a qualified leader. Qualified leaders cannot be produced without the clear formation pathway that helps them move from being seekers to becoming mature and equipped disciples who can do the same in the lives of others.
Whether it’s 3 doors or 4 couches … we all need to have an intentional spiritual formation pathway that is communicated well to our members.
Our team is praying for you and thankful for your work to love the body of our Savior. We also pray that you will not grow weary in doing good.
*Want to learn more about Life on Life Missional Discipleship groups? Join an upcoming Information call for free.