Q & A: Stages of Growth

 This goes with the message that was posted on January 21, 2013 of this blog. I have included the insert for a quick review and the Message Based Discussion Questions follow. The purpose is to provide material for personal reflection or group discussion. The questions are designed to be answered in far more than one or two sentence answers.

Strategy for Grace
Stages of Growth
1 John 2:12-14
January 20
 


What is the spiritual growth process of the normal Christian?

1) Unbeliever – Spiritually dead Eph. 2:1-3

  • This person does not know Jesus and has not accepted Him as Savior. He is unbelieving and rebellious.

2) Spiritual Infant – focus on self 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:2-3

  • This person has accepted Jesus as His Savior, but is not connected in a relationship environment for the purpose of Biblical Discipleship. He is ignorant of God’s Word, confused and dependent on others.

3) Spiritual Child What can I get? 1 Jn. 2:12; 1 Thes. 2:10-12; Phm 1:8-11

  • This person recognizes his need for relationships with other Christians and is connected in a relational environment for the purpose of discipleship, but life is all about him. He is self-centered, prideful, idealistic and has either a high or low view of self often because he lives by pride or emotions.

4) Spiritual Young Adult – wants to serve 1 Jn. 2:13-14; Gal. 5:13-14

  • He recognizes his part in the body of Christ. This person has moved from self-centeredness to God- and other-centeredness. He is characterized by service, zeal, mission and spiritual independence. He learns to push on when discouraged.

5) Spiritual Parent reproducing 1 Jn 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2

  • He has been serving and ministering and now thinks in terms of reproducing. He can feed himself and intentionally recruits people for personal growth and reproducing disciple-makers on the church team.

(These stages are not based on the content of Bible knowledge, but practical implementation)
 

“Phrase” from the Stage (these are typical phrases of people who are in these spiritual stages of growth)

Unbeliever
I don’t believe there is a god
The Bible is just a bunch of myths
Evolution explains away God
God is just a crutch
Jesus is only one way
Spiritual Infant
I believe in Jesus, but my church is when I’m in the woods.
I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian
I gave my life to Jesus and I go to church, but I don’t need to be close to other people
I pray and read my Bible; that is good enough for me.
Spiritual
Child
I love my small group; don’t add any more people to it.
Who are all these people coming to my Church? Tell them to go somewhere else!
I am not coming to church anymore.  It has become too big; it has too many people.
I didn’t like the music today.  If only they did it like…”
Spiritual
Young Adult
I think I could lead a group with a little help. I have three friends I have been witnessing to, and this group would be too big for them.
Randy and Rachel missed group and I called to see if they are okay.  Their kids have the flu, so maybe our group can make meals for them. I’ll start.
I am so exhausted this week I called all sixty men from men’s breakfast to see how they were.
Spiritual
Parent
This guy at work asked me to explain the Bible to him.  Pray for me.
We get to baptize someone from our small group tonight. When is the next Belonging class? I want to get her plugged into ministry somewhere.
I realized discipleship happens at home… will you hold me accountable to disciple my kids

 

Typical Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes of the Stage

Unbeliever
Unbelief , rebellion, blind to truth
Belief in one God, but many ways to get to Him
Anger toward Christians / Church
Ignorance and or confusion about God, Jesus and the Church
Misinformed about spiritual/biblical truth; spiritual blindness
Spiritual
Infant
Ignorance about what they need spiritually and what the Bible says about life
Ignorant about or frustrated toward Christianity and the church
Belief that Christians can make no mistakes (no tolerance of)
Unrealistic expectations of themselves and others
Confusion about the Christian way of life
Mixing Christianity and other religions and not knowing it.
Spiritual
Child
Excitement of deeper relationships
They appreciate sp. changes
Understand Christian lingo, but:
Have high expectations of others
Believe feelings are most important, which leads to spiritual highs and lows
Compare themselves to others and compete with them
Lack wisdom how to use what they are learning- for example too aggressive when sharing their faith or too legalistic in their approach to dealing with friends and family
Belief that people are not caring for them enough
Spiritual
Young Adult
Desire to serve for others’ good and the glory of God
Feel responsible for how others respond to the gospel message
Possible pride if a person accepts the message and possible discouragement if they don’t
Desire to serve but not strategic about how to train others
Black and white about what should happen in a church
Spiritual
Parent
Has a coach’s mindset
Wants to see people mature
Reproduces disciples
Can feed themselves
Values the church team

 Spiritual Needs of the Stage  (These are needs of people in the spiritual stages)

Unbeliever
Secure relationship with a growing believer
A picture of the real Jesus
Answers, evidences for Christ
An explanation of the gospel
An invitation to receive Christ
Spiritual
Infant
Individual attention from a spiritual parent
Protection
An explanation of truth from God’s Word
An explanation and modeling of the habits of growing believers
Spiritual
Child
A spiritual family
Help to start feeding themselves
Teaching who they are in Christ
Teaching about how to have relationships with others
Spiritual
Young Adult
A place to learn to serve
A spiritual parent who will debrief them about ministry
Ongoing encouraging relationships and accountability
Guidance regarding expectations of people they will serve
Spiritual skills training
Spiritual
Parents
An ongoing relationship with co-laborers
A church family
Encouragement in discipleship

God calls each of us to become spiritual parents.

 

 
Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      What physical stage of life do you enjoy the most?  This is a personal response all should answer seriously or playfully.  Some will say being a child, because of no responsibility. Some will say a young adult, because of freedoms, etc.

Digging Deeper: Study 1 Cor 3:1-3; 1 Jn 2:12-14

 2)      Based on the charts, what are some other phrases of a child?

a)       The elder looked at me, but didn’t say hi to me.

b)       No one ever visits me.

c)       Why don’t we have a bingo night every week at church?

d)       If this was a really good church, it would have a rose garden.

e)       I love my friends at church, but they don’t invite me over.

f)        I’m just no good at doing anything.

g)       I can teach a class; why don’t you just give me people to teach.

3)      What are phrases of a parent?

a)       I’ve called my home group to get together to help at the church picnic.

b)       There are two young men who are ready to take the next step of serving at church.  Where do you think would be the best place for them?

c)       I have three gals who want to meet and get help in parenting.  What material do you recommend?

d)       “You really did a nice job in serving as usher.  I liked how you greeted each person with a smile and you helped them find a seat.”

e)       I’m having trouble with a couple in my home group of controlling the conversation.  Do you have any advice on how to address that?

f)        I took pastor’s message and after going through the discussion questions, found some great  passages related to the study and helped me.  Let me share them with you.

g)      There’s a couple teenagers that are having trouble with their language at church.  Pray for me that I can help them honor God with their words and represent the Lord with their lives.

4)      What are differences between a child and young adult? 

a)       Child is interested in learning; YA is interested in also serving.

b)       Child is interested in what makes them excited; YA is interested in what would help the group learn about Jesus.

c)       Child has unrealistic expectations on people; YA excepts people and tries to share Scripture.

d)       Child says you can’t celebrate Christmas with a tree; YA accepts another person’s view that a holiday can be celebrated in different ways before the Lord.

e)       Child complains because people don’t do enough for them; YA is glad to be serving and isn’t concerned if people are taking care of them.

f)        Child learns to be smarter than others; YA learns because he wants to grow in a relationship with the Lord.

g)       Child tries to shove Jesus in witnessing to others; YA shares the gospel and either gets pride from a good response or gets discouraged when there is no response.

5)      Why is it important to understand the Spiritual needs of each stage?  What are the needs of spiritual infants and children?

a)       Have to understand spiritual needs of each stage, because that helps us know how to relate to people in those stages.

b)       Have to understand, so we don’t put unrealistic expectations on people.

c)       Have to understand because you know what you can expect from others.

d)       So you don’t judge and condemn people for being self-centered; you help them grow through it with a focus on Jesus.

e)       So you provide sp. Nurturing so they can grow.

f)        So you can see the progression of spiritual growth.

g)      So you are more compassionate and merciful

Application of the message to life:

6)      What are four things you could do to ensure you are growing up spiritually?

a)       Know the stages of growth

b)       Check my words for knowing my focus and what I’m doing

c)       Study God’s Word to understand His level of holiness.

d)       Know that sp. Parenting is where I want to grow.

e)       Dependent on the Holy Spirit to understand Scripture and be empowered to walk by His power.

f)        Engaged in church where I have opportunities to put into practice things that can be done at each level of growth.

g)       Being in an intentional discipleship ministry.

h)       Engaged in a relational environment

i)         Looking for or preparing to disciple others.

7)      If you want to be considered spiritually mature, what needs to be true?

a)       I must be a young adult moving toward parenting.

b)       I must be preparing to disciple others

c)       I must have others following me.

d)       I must be helping them with people who will follow them.

e)       It is not based on how much I know, but how much I’m doing in the power of the Holy Spirit according to His Word.

 

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