Saturday, May 24, 2008

Maturing & Growing? What Does That Mean?

The church I'm at is in a search for a worship leader. I've been heading up the "first contact" with each resume that is sent to us, replying back to them a little bit about the transition we're going through in leadership and as a church, asking of them a few questions intended to get to know them a little bit. All of these questions are intended to be rather simple (how old are you; are you married; do you have children), except one question: "how are you growing and maturing in your walk with Christ?"

I've been troubled at the number of people applying to be a worship leader and they don't get the question at all. To even consider someone who would be our worship leader but who has no idea of what it means to grow and mature in faith is scary (and it won't happen).

This had me thinking:
  1. Could it be possible that the question isn't worded very well and they really don't understand?
  2. Could these people be entertainers instead of worship leaders?
  3. How many other genuinely, proclaiming Christians out there do not understand the question?
  4. Could it be possible that the churches and denominations in American have gotten so bad that we're turning out many "Christians" that are really false-converts and that's why they have no clue of what the question means?
When I think of maturing and growing in my walk with Christ I think about my time spent in conversation with God (what I'm learning through God's Word (the Bible) and through time in prayer), how God leads me, how I am (and am not) obedient to Him, the relationships I've formed with others (both other Christians and those who aren't Christians), how I devote my time, etc.

Is something wrong with the question or is something missing from the responder?

Can you answer the question "how are you growing and maturing in your walk with Christ?" And would God like your answer?


Jessica B. said...

I wandered over from Nathan's blog and oddly enough this is a conversation I had just recently. Our church has a Lay ministry application with a very similar question on it. Now, I know there is a big difference to working in the church nursery once a month and leading worship, but bear with me!

I think honestly, people don't really know what you are looking for in an answer. And I don't mean that like they are trying to find the "right" churchy words or you won't be impressed kind of confusion. Their faith may very well be genuine (or not, but lets pretend they all are). Saying "how" is kind of ambiguous. Perhaps you mean the "tangibles".. 'well, I read my Bible 3 times a day and spend X time in prayer and go to a Bible study on X once a week"... or perhaps you are looking for the "Spiritual" answer.. 'I seek and pray for God to reveal Himself for each of my daily decisions, etc'...

I know it sounds silly, but I have been a Christian for a LONG time and it would be hard for me to answer that on the spot. I wouldn't be sure how much to reveal or how to word it properly. Some people just aren't as eloquent with things like that, but I don't believe that it is *always* a sign that they are immature.

Perhaps a better way to word it would be something like- "tell me something you do daily that helps you grow and mature?" OR "Can you tell me about a time in your life where God did X..."

I think people have an easier time with specifics and you will probably still get a really good feel for where they are at.

Sorry this is so long!

TerryKM said...

Hey Jessica, thanks for responding (and don't worry that it's long)!

Using "how" isn't all that ambiguous as much as it gives freedom. For example, "how will you put that nail into a piece of wood". You know you need something hard to hit the nail but you have the freedom to use a hammer, a rock, or something else. "How", in this case, is asking your approach to the situation.

If a believer is reading their Bible, even lightly, they would come across verses that would give them a strong indication that we're supposed to be growing, changing, and maturing which should give birth to the question, "how do I do that?" It should be a question and answer Christians should be discovering and churches need to be teaching.

On a strong, much bolder note. . .maturity, change, and growth in faith produces certain things in us (fruit) and without this fruit how can we be sure that we're saved at all?

"A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad." Matthew 12:33

Some other thought provoking verses on the subject. . .

"When these people join you in fellowship meals celebrating the love of the Lord, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are shameless in the way they care only about themselves. They are like clouds blowing over dry land without giving rain, promising much but producing nothing. They are like trees without fruit at harvesttime. They are not only dead but doubly dead, for they have been pulled out by the roots." Jude 1:12

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives." Galatians 5:22-25

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is." Romans 12:2

TerryKM said...

Wow, mine was long too. . .

On another note, asking someone how they do this daily could be a helpful part of the question for a believer, although some opportunities for growth and maturity don't happen daily.

Doesn't it really come down to how much a person is really giving themselves over to be drawn closer and closer to God? If they aren't sincere in giving themselves over then the question of maturity is really a foreign language. Not because they don't know "churchy" words, but rather because they know nothing of God's heart.

Jessica B. said...

Don't get me wrong, I do see what you are saying- it is just a really broad and open-ended kind of thing that I think leaves some people overwhelmed.

I know some very godly people that would stare blankly at you for a minute before stammering out an answer. BUT if you were to know them and watch the way they live their lives... the fruit is evident every single day.

When I would help interview people at my last job, I found that starting with a more "narrow" question often gave me the answer to the broader one that I wanted to ask.

I think if you ask any Christian what they are doing daily to grow and mature, they should be able to answer that. It may not be earth shattering, but we should all incorporate actions and habits into our daily lives that are allowing God to help us mature. If we don't have those daily things in place, I don't know how we can profess to be seeking maturity.

I actually know a guy from high school who is now a very accomplished worship leader- he is so talented and open when he is performing. You can truly see how much he loves what he does and how genuine and passionate he is.
But if you run into him at Walmart... you will be lucky to get 4 coherent words out of him. He is painfully shy and reserved in a one on one situation.

He will never be witnessing on street corners or teaching a SS class because that is not where is gift is. But he can lead people in worshiping the Lord like you wouldn't believe!

Just like the spiritual gifts idea (which, even if you don't believe in the "formula" of spiritual gifts, clearly God has given us all different strengths) sometimes I think it is hard for us to see how people might struggle with something that is second nature to us.

I would just hate to discount someone because they are not as adept at answering a question like that on the spot- I am not saying you have to hire them ;) just that I hate to see them written off. There may be a lot more than meets the eye.

Or perhaps it is something as simple as the fact that God is working on them in a way that is very personal. I know that because I have been a Christian for so long a lot of my life seems to be "together" to those who see only the surface- the areas where God is dealing with my heart are things that are very intimate and I don't know that I would share them with most people.

Rick Lawrenson said...

I think that if someone who is applying for a leadership position in a church gets tripped up by that question then they have no business being in that position.

We're not talking about a brand new Christian stepping into ministry for the first time. I would hope you're looking for a maturing believer who can verbalize what God is doing in his life.

The series I'm now teaching takes the position that you can identify spiritual growth by the "ingredients" given by Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-7. It starts with faith and progresses upward from there.

Jessica B. said...

Like I tried to clarify in my last post, I don't necessarily think that you should hire someone for leadership if they can't vocalize their relationship and faith. They are going to be a mouthpiece and "face" for your church.

I just hate to see someone pigeonholed just because they are not able to express themselves well in this way. It is unfortunately not a gift we all have.

TerryKM said...

Jessica. . .Don't let me scare you away or anything, I hope I don't, but while I agree that not all are even average communicators I do think every one who is giving their life over to God should have an answer. . .it might not be very eloquent and might even come out rather rough, but the "pause to answer" should be over a search for words and not a search for an answer.

I'm not sure if that's what you're also be saying, but I just want to clarify my position.

Jessica B. said...

Sorry I am so slow... I certainly hear what you are saying and I don't mean to sound so argumentative :)

We are certainly both on the same side! I guess sometimes I just feel like things like this can do a disservice to those who do have a hard time with talking about their faith. Again, I will mention that I think that if that is where your particular struggle is, it is probably not your best bet to apply for a job in the ministry!

I just think in general it is sometimes defeating to people who are Christians and have a hard time communicating with their own spouse about spiritual things, much less a nameless/faceless form where there is a fear of "rejection" to some degree. I know it is not what you meant, but I have heard people say how inferior they have been made to feel because people assumed that they don't "get it" because they are shy or uncomfortable sharing.

I have had many discussions with people at our church about taking those statements on the lay ministry forms with a grain of salt. It is a broad question with a lot of freedom and freedom can be paralyzing to some people. That is why I think talking to someone and giving them some room to warm up and some narrower questions to start can be a much better gauge for who they are and how they are growing.

Thats all :)