In the fall of 2007, Willow Creek church released the results of their three million dollar research into the effectiveness of their church program and 30 other churches. They were shocked to find that they were not bringing people to spiritual maturity. What they thought would produce spiritual maturity was not. They believed that the more people participated in church programs the greater spiritual maturity it would produce. They found that the amount of involvement in church programs had no correlation with the depth of someone’s spiritual maturity. What makes this mistake so significant is that Willow Creek is a church that has 12,000 churches in their Willow Creek Association, and has taught thousands of pastors how to “do church” to produce church growth. To some degree, Willow Creek Church has influenced how most churches today “do church”. “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matthew 15:14)
What is the answer to helping people come to maturity in Christ? Take another look at the Great Commission. The answer is there. We have been focusing on the first part of the commission – evangelism – and have overlooked the second half thinking we know what it is saying. But look again at what Jesus says in giving us the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19) The missing key to spiritual maturity is teaching others Christ’s commands in the New Testament and teaching them to follow the commands. An excellent subject for Bible study is to take each of Christ’s commands and study them. There is a list of Christ’s commands on this website.
Jesus defines a disciple as one who follows His commands. A person who is spiritually mature is one who knows Christ’s teachings in the New Testament and who follows them with all his or her heart, soul, mind and strength. The following passages of Scripture over and over stress the importance of doing what Jesus says to do:
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.