In talking to my pastor today, I had something of a realization. The people who I used to hang out with and the people who I surround myself with now have two very different definitions of spiritual growth. (As much as I hate to use the dividing “us”, “them” theme, it is all I have so please understand where I come from when I use these terms.)

At my former church, spiritual growth was defined by a few things. 1. How deep/vast your Bible knowledge was. 2. How active you were in church related activities (ie. Bible studies, nursery, missions trips, etc.) and C. How many people you had led to Christ.

I’m not saying that any of those things are bad. I probably don’t know enough of my Bible or it’s deep and rich history. I was extremely active in my church but one could argue that I was too active. As for the leading people to Christ, let’s just say that giving a 30 second Jesus pitch isn’t one of my spiritual gifts. If you measured by these 3 things, you would probably say that I wasn’t growing very much. Especially considering I’d been raised in the church. (Though I didn’t consider myself a Christian until I was around 15.)

The church I’m attending now is a bit different. While we do value those things, it isn’t necessarily what we base our measurement on for spiritual growth. Instead we look at a person’s life to see if we see them becoming more or less like Christ. If I am better able to love my annoying neighbor who screams at their kids and let’s their dogs roam around unleashed, then I consider that growth. If I have more patience while sitting in a long line of traffic on the interstate, I consider that growth. Because I know plenty of people who seem to have a great amount of Bible knowledge, who are extremely active in their church and who have (supposedly) led some people to Christ. But I don’t see them becoming more Christ-like in their own daily life. While they perhaps immulate it in the church, their life outside the church is quite different. That’s not to say that they aren’t growing. Some people are slower then others. Some aren’t quite as vocal as, say, me. 😉 And I know that growth is often two steps forward and one step back. But it worries me when, over a long period of time, I see no change. Or I see people repeating the same cycle over and over again.

Christ called us to love God and love others. Until I get those two things figured out, I’m not too worried about how many church activities I’m involved in or how many Bible verses I know. He didn’t call us to be Bible scholars. He called us to be peacemakers, merciful, humble and loving. If I can move forward in those things, I’ll consider myself growing right up.