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Stages Of Spiritual Growth and Maturity – A Spiritual Reflection (Part 2)

Last week I mentioned that one can actually measure spiritual “maturity” and spiritual “growth” by examining a person’s concrete behaviors as they model Matthew 22:37-40 in “loving God” and “loving neighbor.” This would involve a person’s spiritual beliefs and attitudes; a person’s spiritual practices; participation in organized church activities and spiritual and pastoral activities directed with and towards others.

One might naturally ask, “Well, in which stage am I?” A general description of the four spiritual “stages” are outlined below. In addition, the specific spiritual actions, activities and attitudes that need to be in place as a person moves from one spiritual stage to the next are provided as well.

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Phase 1: A person EXPLORING CHRIST says, “I believe in God but I am not sure ab

out Jesus Christ” I am not sure if a human being can have a ‘personal relationship’ with a transcendent God. My faith is not a significant part of my life.”

A person EXPLORING CHRIST wants:

  1. Help in developing a personal relationship with Christ.
  2. Compelling worship services.
  3. A feeling of belonging.
  4. Help in understanding the Bible in greater depth.
  5. Church leaders who model and consistently reinforce how to grow spiritually.

Next Steps They Need To Accomplish (“Catalysts” To Spiritual Growth)

  • I believe I am saved by God’s grace and believe nothing I do can “earn” my way into Heaven (spiritual belief).
  • I believe in a “triune God” (“The Holy Trinity) Father – Son – Holy Spirit  (spiritual belief).
  • I serve the church in some kind of ministry once a month or more each month (church activity).
  • I pray to seek guidance in my life occasionally or frequently (spiritual practice).
  • I reflect on Scripture and/or the Eucharist for guidance/meaning in my life [ranges from sometimes to frequently] spiritual practice).

Jesus Christ

 

Phase 2: A person GROWING IN CHRIST says, “I believe you can have a personal relationship with a transcendent God. I believe in Jesus Christ and I am working on what it means to get to know him.”

A person GROWING IN CHRIST wants:

  1. Help in developing a personal relationship with Christ.
  2. Help in understanding the Bible in greater depth.
  3. Church leaders who model and reinforce how to grow spiritually.
  4. Compelling worship experience.
  5. To be challenged to grow and take the next step in their faith journey.

Next Steps They Need To Accomplish (“Catalysts” To Spiritual Growth)

  • I believe in a personal God who is actively involved in my life (spiritual belief).
  • I pray to seek guidance in my life frequently or daily (spiritual practice).
  • I reflect on Scripture for guidance or meaning in my life (spiritual practice).
  • I had 6 or more meaningful spiritual conversations with others in the past year (spiritual activity with others).
  • I currently give a significant amount [can be 10% or more] to my church (spiritual practice).

 

Phase 3: A person CLOSE TO CHRIST says, “I feel very close to Christ and depend on Him daily for guidance and support.”

A person CLOSE TO CHRIST wants (critically important):

  1. Help in understanding the Bible in greater depth.
  2. Help in developing a deeper, personal relationship with Christ.

Important but less so than 1. and 2. –

  1. Church leaders who model and reinforce how to grow spiritually.
  2. To be challenged to grow and take the next step in their own spiritual development.
  3. Encouragement to take personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth.

 

Next Steps They Need To Accomplish (“Catalysts” To Spiritual Growth)

  • I am willing to risk everything that is important in my life for Christ (spiritual belief/attitude).
  • I desire Jesus to be first in my life (spiritual belief/attitude).
  • I was created and exist to know, love and serve God (spiritual belief/attitude).
  • I believe that Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are the decisive authority over what I say and do (spiritual belief/attitude).
  • I reflect on scripture and receive the Eucharist for guidance and meaning in my life either frequently or daily (spiritual practice).

 

Phase 4: A person who is CHRIST CENTERED says, “My relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the most important relationship in my life. It guides everything that I do.”

A person who is CHRIST CENTERED wants (critically important):

  1. Help in understanding the Bible in greater depth.
  2. Help in developing a deeper, personal relationship with Christ.
  3. Church leaders who model and reinforce how to grow spiritually.

Important but less so than 1, 2, or 3 above:

  1. To be challenged to grow and take the next step in their faith journey.
  2. To be encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth.

 

Having a sense of “which stage I am in” In January, St. Monica will roll-out three adult faith spiritual programs. Each will be targeted to people in different spiritual stages in their lives:

  • For searchers, seekers, skeptics, even long-term believers who just aren’t sure about their faith, God and the church any more. For people looking for a safe place to ask any questions they want in a non-judgmental atmosphere – we will be offering ALPHA.
  • More mature believers who are looking to grow their relationship with Christ especially through prayer will be offered OREMUS.
  • Some believers are more advanced in their spirituality and wish to be extremely challenged in their faith. They are willing to invest significant time and effort in growing their relationship with Christ, with others and with the Church and are looking to be held accountable in this growth path. For them we will offer “CALLED AND GIFTED – 2”.

 

Further details about all three of these programs, including sign-up information, is forthcoming. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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