Are church members mature enough to pioneer?

What is spiritual maturity?

The first time I took a team out with me to Africa to minister in missions in different towns and villages, they were all astonished when I invited them to take a sermon, or seminar at one of the events. “What me?“ they would say. What I always found was that every single one of them were more than competent to teach and minister the gospel even though they had never done it before. They found they had so much to say, and were astonished at the amount of knowledge that they possessed. The problem with Christianity in the west is not that people need more teaching, the challenge of Christianity in the west is to trust our church members and empower them to take risks that are scary and at which they could fail, but to nevertheless encourage them to go for it.

Biblically speaking, maturity is the development of Christ-like character and behaviour. It comes through a renewed mind and tested faith.

It certainly includes theological knowledge and understanding ( Eph 4:13–15 ). My view would be that in most of our Baptist churches if not all of them there is a depth of theological understanding in our members that is able to resist being tossed back and forth by cultural pressures and every wind of teaching and the doctrines of man, paving the way for speaking truth to power and truth in love. That depth of knowledge and maturity has always been present in the members of our Baptist churches but do leaders always recognise it?

Ephesians 1:17–18 (NIV) — 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

Spiritual understanding is more quickly acquired where there is unity and a healthy culture of loving one another in community. It is this context that paves the way for a comprehensive understanding of the divine and specifically a greater devotion to Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2:2 (NIV) — 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,

My experience of believers who have sat under good teaching but have never been in leadership of any description has been, eye opening. On being given the opportunity to lead or teach they were always competent.

In this season in which we are seeking to encourage members of our churches to listen to God and encourage them to step into pioneering and innovation across our movement, I belives it is better to err on the side of Paul’s conviction and accept; unless demonstrably unhelpful character flaws shown otherwise, that apart from young Christians (less than three years old) believers are, fully competent to instruct and teach one another .

Romans 15:14 (NIV) — 14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Good leadership calls for maturity

I said in my presidential address that Every Baptist has good works to do that God prepared in advance for them to do. One of our jobs like Paul’s is to pray that our members might discover his will. Discernment of God’s will changes a believers behaviour for life and leads to much fruit. If believers can be hero’s in the world like many frontline nursing staff, then surely we can encourage them to be pioneering heroes in the church.

Colossians 1:9–10 (NIV) — 9 …. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

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FOR MINISTERS (10 evidences of maturity)

  1. Christlikeness is the goal and model for spiritual maturity Ephesians 4:13–15; Col 2:6–7; Heb 12:2
  2. Marks of spiritual maturity: including Love, unity and focus on Christ as the cause, faithfulness ,goodness, Colossians 2:2 ;Ro 15:14; 1 Co 2:6; 1 Co 14:20; Eph 1:17–18; Heb 5:12–6:1 .
  3. Discernment of God’s will: Colossians 1:9–10— ; Ro 12:2; 1 Co 3:1–3; Ga 5:22–23; Eph 4:22–23; Php 1:9–11; 2 Th 1:3
  4. Care for the weak: Romans 15:1 ; Ga 6:1–2
  5. Maturity is to be the aim of the Christian Philippians 3:13–15
  6. Reason for spiritual immaturity;Luke 8:14; 2 Co 7:1; 2 Co 13:11; 1 Ti 6:11
  7. God causes spiritual growth Php 1:6; Ga 3:3; Heb 10:14
  8. The spiritually mature build others up: Ephesians 4:11–13 ; Ro 1:11
  9. Build ministry on the platform of the word of God: 2 Timothy 3:16–17 ( ; Ro 15:4; 1 Pe 2:2; 1 Jn 2:5
  10. Persevering through trials :Romans 5:3–5; Heb 2:10; Jas 1:3–4; 1 Pe 5:10

4 thoughts on “Are church members mature enough to pioneer?”

  1. Hi Yinka, you wrote “Spiritual understanding is more quickly acquired where there is unity”.

    How do you understand ‘unity’ in a Baptist context where “each Church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer Jesus’ laws”?

  2. Jesus was and is our greatest encourager. Holy Spirit encourages us and empowers us. The great cloud of witnesses cheer us on to run the race Father has set before us. We are called to follow the example of Jesus and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to grow, to reach for their dreams and fulfill their potential.

  3. Hi Martin

    Thanks for the question

    I believe very strongly in the priesthood of all believers, I am sure that is obvious in my article, the question of unity mentioned in this article is not really talking about church governance or leadership but in the article, I am focused on the impact of unity on maturity, and identifying the spiritual climate and context within which the scriptures say a believer can better mature in the knowledge of Christ i.e Colossians 2:2. I really was not addressing the qustion you are asking.

    blessings and thanks for engaging.

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