How Do You Grow Spiritually?

How Do You Grow Spiritually?

How do you grow spiritually? Seems like a simple question, but the various answers that are given differ widely. There are three common paradigms that are followed in the Christian world:

1. Mystical Spiritual Growth Path

The primary assumption here is that spiritual growth comes primarily in mystical and intimate encounters with God. Disciplines emphasized include: silence, meditation, and prayer. A spiritual work in this tradition is Thomas à Kempis’ classic, The Imitation of Christ. This is a common paradigm for spiritual growth in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Pentecostal traditions. It has many good things to teach us.

2. Rational Spiritual Growth Path

The primary assumption here is that spiritual growth comes primarily through right thinking and correct doctrine. Disciplines emphasized: Bible study and education. A spiritual work in this tradition is Lewis Sperry Chafers’ classic, He Who Is Spiritual. This is a common paradigm for spiritual growth in Evangelical and Fundamentalist circles. It also has many good things to teach us.

3. Activist Spiritual Growth Path

The primary assumption here is that spiritual growth comes mainly through activism, authentic community, and social justice. Disciplines emphasized: compassion and generosity. A spiritual work in this tradition is Ron Sider’s work, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. This is a common paradigm for spiritual growth in mainline churches. It too has many good things to teach us.

The lesson of this brief survey is that all three traditions offer valuable insight on how to grow spiritually. All three have a long tradition in the Church. True spiritual growth can only occur when we are balancing the disciplines in all three areas. This seems to be well-modeled in the life of Jesus again and again in the Gospels. I would encourage you to read in all three traditions. Spiritual growth is not just a nice thing if you have time; it is absolutely critical if you want to find joy, make disciples, have a godly marriage, find purpose, and leave a godly legacy for your children. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose!

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor