We cannot overemphasize bringing men and women to new birth in Christ. Evangelism is essential, critically essential. But is it not obvious that growth in Christ is equally essential? Yet the american church has not treated it with an equivalent urgency. The American church runs on the euphoria and adrenaline of new birth – getting people into the church, into the kingdom, into causes, into crusades, into programs. We turn matters of growing up over to Sunday school teachers, specialist in Christian education, committees to revise curricula, retreat centers, and deeper life conferences, farming it out to parachurch groups for remedial assistance. I don’t find pastors and professors, for the most part, very interested in matters of formation in holiness. They have higher profile things to tend to.
Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ, 5.
He is correct isn’t he? In general, pastors are more concerned with the preaching event than the formation event. We pastors have developed a practical mindset that the Sunday worship gathering is the most important thing we can do.
“David, you are an idiot, I don’t believe that!”
Maybe that’s true for you. But do this for me. Put your schedule to the test for a week. Keep a detailed schedule of what you do every day related to church and ministry. Do this for just one week. After you do that, answer this question: “What do you spend most of your time DOING?”. Do you spend most of your time in spiritually forming your people or in sermon preparation? Do you spend most of your time in mentoring people through a small group?
Now, look at the budget. What is most of your money spent on? Do you spend most of your money on resourcing the Sunday worship gathering? Is it put in maintaining the facilities? Is it spent on salaries?
You see, what you spend your time and money doing is what you really believe. If you are not spending the majority of your time and money on effective spiritual formation towards wholeness, then you that is not what is important to you. You are saying one thing and doing another.
The Sunday worship gathering is a nice event, but it does not lead to effective spiritual formation. Mentoring is the key. One on one. Two or three gathered. At best it is a group of twelve. That is where formation occurs, in the intensity of deep personal relationships.
Are you giving lip service to spiritual formation or are you living it?