In this week’s edition of Rick Warren’s Ministry Tool Box, Rick wrote an article entitled Five Tools Saddleback Uses to Develop Spiritual Maturity. Having become one of the largest churches in the country, Rick said that “my goal now, our goal, is that we become one of the most spiritually mature churches in the nation.” I agree with Rick. That goal should be the goal of every church in the nation and even world. We should want our people to look and act like Jesus. Can you imagine the impact on our communities and world if that happened? It is a worthy goal!
But how do we get there? What steps does your church need to take to move in that direction? What part can Sunday School play in making progress toward spiritual maturity, toward helping men, women, and children to look and act more like Christ.
In Rick’s article referenced above, he mentions five tools. I want to share three of the five and how they could be used in a revolutionary Sunday School to increase spiritual maturity. The three tools from Rick’s article are listed in all capitals followed by my commentary:
COMMITMENT CARDS. Every lesson should lead attenders to meet God in Bible study. They should be led to listen to what God has to say and to respond to Him in commitment. Participants should be helped to apply the truth of God’s Word to their daily lives. An invitation to respond to God should be extended. Most literature offers good suggestions for leading attenders to do this. Unfortunately, I find many teachers short change this process. They want to share so much Bible study that they don’t allow attenders a chance to consider what God is saying to them or how they should respond.
Increasing spiritual maturity means that we need to help participants make commitments. From my experience, I agree with Rick when he said, “A lot of people get right up to that point but never cross the line. We need to teach people what to do and then ask them to do it.” This is not just a worship response! Every time they open God’s Word, He expects a response.
Commitment cards could be a part of the answer. What if class members were asked to complete a card indicating a commitment they are making in response to God in His Word? They don’t have to be used every week, but they work! They should be specifically designed based upon the response(s) of a particular lesson or series of lessons. Think about how you can utilize commitment cards to increase spiritual maturity in your Sunday School classes.
COVENANTS. Many classes expect nothing from their members. They don’t expect them to attend regularly, to study their lessons, to participate, to serve, or anything else. We get what we expect. If we expect nothing, we should not be surprised when that is what we get. High expectations produce results. God deserves our best.
Covenants are commitments hammered out between individuals or groups. They are agreements about expectations. They are agreements to be accountable to each other. Covenants raise expectations and responsibility. Spiritual maturity requires commitment and encouragement. Covenants can be a key piece in that quest toward spiritual maturity through Sunday School classes. I encourage you to read Rick’s bullet points about covenants.
I have written about covenants in two previous blog entries: Benefits of a Covenant for a Revolutionary Sunday School Classand Sunday School Class and Home Bible Study Group Covenants. The very act of a group working on a covenant is an act of discipleship, a movement stretching toward spiritual maturity. Try it this year!
SMALL GROUPS. Rick reminded us, “Your church members can’t grow spiritually on their own. We all need other people to help us grow.” Sunday School and small groups are a major piece of the puzzle of spiritual maturity. I’ve said it before, but when people drop out of church, most stop growing as disciples and stop serving Him. Sunday School and small groups are key to keeping them connected, serving, and moving toward spiritual maturity.
Sunday School and small groups serve as cheerleaders, encouragers, guides, accountability partners, and helpers on the journey of discipleship. The community of relationships travel down the road together making the journey more enjoyable while they help each other arrive at the destination. I am finding large classes (or adult Bible fellowships) in many churches today. It is often helpful for the large class to encourage spiritual maturity by spending a portion of their time in class and/or outside of class together in smaller groups. Be intentional about increasing spiritual maturity in your group this year!
Which of these tools could be most helpful on your quest as a class toward spiritual maturity? What is your first step in that direction? Have you seen the benefits from one of these tools in your group? Share it by pressing the comments button below and telling your story. Do you have another tool you think would help others? Press the comments button. Pray. Lead your class to think and act like Jesus. Be revolutionary!