As I continued to consider the need for hitting the target of making mature and equipped followers of Christ, a second challenge entered my thinking – “What is a mature and equipped follower of Christ?”
After numerous hours of sitting silently in that mountain home, I began to realize that though these words “mature” and “equipped” occur a number of times in Scripture, the Bible never defines them. However, I assumed with a healthy knowledge of God’s Word, one could adequately compile a description of the characteristics of such a believer based on God’s Word. So I took on that endeavor.
Here is the description I came up with after hours of thought then, and numerous edits since then.
1) is living consistently under the:
control of the Holy Spirit,
the direction of the Word of God,
and the motivation of the love of Christ,
2) has discovered, developed and are using their spiritual gifts,
3) has learned to effectively share their faith, in a winsomely
4) gives evidence of being:
a faithful member of God’s church,
an effective manager of life, relationships and resources,
a willing minister to others including “the least of these”, and
an available messenger to non-Kingdom people, and
5) demonstrates a life characterized as:
family faithful, and
I realize that in reading this description, one might immediately respond asking, “And where is this king or queen of glory?”
I would never suggest that such a Christian is “fully” mature or equipped in any of these descriptions. What I am suggesting is that were you or I to say someone is totally void of any one of these descriptions, we would have to conclude this person is not mature and/or equipped. For instance, what if someone met all these descriptions with the exception of living under the control of the Holy Spirit, the direction of the Word of God, etc.? I would have to conclude that this person should not be considered a mature Christian.
Though I realize there is no description that is going to be “the” description or a perfect description, I do believe it gives an adequate enough one to define our target, enabling us to determine how well we are accomplishing the task of hitting our goal.
Now, assuming our goal is to make mature and equipped followers of Christ, and assuming we have arrived at an adequate description of such a believer, now there’s just one last challenge – figuring out how to hit that target. Little did I realize how difficult that challenge would be.
I was pretty aware of, and our church was practicing, the typical church’s plan for helping believers with their spiritual formation. But I had to honestly evaluate whether that plan was working.
So what is the typical plan used by churches? I will address that in the next chapter as well as why this plan is not working.