Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ivy Jungle . . . Spiritual Maturity?

One of the few online Newsletters that I look forward to getting each month is the Ivy Jungle Network's: Campus Ministry Update. It is always interesting, informative, and relevant to those of us that work with this age-group. The latest edition just came out; usually I just link it without much comment, but because there are always some very interesting things that I think deserve more than just a “notice,” I've decided to change my approach. Throughout this week I will highlight some of the reports they mention, and give some little personal perspective as well - my comments will be in the light blue font.

Today . . . . Day 3, enjoy!

The Ivy Jungle Network
Campus Ministry Update

June 2009
The Ivy Jungle Web Site >>

Trends in Campus Ministry, Culture and Higher Education:

As discussed yesterday, researchers (and antidotal evidence) have consistently shown a general growth in "spirituality" and a decline of interest in the church. Might that decline of interest in the church be because of the lack of vision and sense of mission and purpose, especially in those matters of spirituality within the church? The Barna research highlighted below suggests that there is much ambiguity by both church attendees and Pastoral leaders as to what spiritual maturity is, and how one gets there. It seems to me, churches that have this figured out are the ones reaching that 40 and less crowd mentioned below (by figured out, I mean those churches that have an identifiable spiritual path that one may walk down--I am not dismissing or ignoring, as my words might lead you to conclude, the sovereign work of God through His Spirit in any of this).

Unsure What Spiritual Maturity Looks Like: A study by the Barna Group and Living on the Edge indicates most churchgoers and clergy are unsure of what they mean by spiritual maturity, let alone how to pursue it. Among the challenges identified by the report:

  • Most Christians equate spiritual maturity with following the rules.
  • Most church goers are unclear of what their church expects in terms of spiritual maturity.
  • Most Christians offer one dimensional views of spiritual maturity – often with a highly personal focus.
  • Most Christians struggle with feeling the relevance of expressing objectives for spirituality.
  • They favor activities over attitudes in what they should do as mature Christians.
  • Pastors are surprisingly vague about the biblical references they use to ground their ideas of spiritual maturity.

The study also identified 5 opportunities for helping address these challenges:

  1. Both churchgoers and pastors have identified barriers to spiritual growth.
  2. While many are complacent about their spiritual growth, millions say they do want to grow spiritually.
  3. Compared to their older counterparts, Christians under 40 are less satisfied with their spirituality and much less "rule oriented."
  4. Most pastors are looking for help; nearly 80% are moderately dissatisfied with their ability to assess and measure the spiritual health of their congregation
  5. Pastors are doing a better job than they think – they are much harder on themselves than their congregations are who do see them helping people grow.
    ( May 18, 2009)
3 John 8
Bill H.

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