Spiritual Growth in 2016
On December 6th, I asked my church the question: “What did you grow most in for 2016?”. Ministries were beginning to slow down, and our college town was gradually evacuated. The time for year end reflection was upon us. It wasn’t an easy question. I know, because I also had to ask myself where I stood. Fortunately, our congregation had just studied through the book of Ephesians during midweek services.
“until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” - Ephesians 4:13-15
Speaking the truth in love [loving God with all our hearts, and treating others as ourselves) created quite the movement in Oregon. We saw a church of less than a dozen pass the mass capacity of a hotel ballroom. We saw multiple Bible talks on multiple campuses lead the lost to the waters of baptism. We saw incredible sacrifice and contribution, as our special missions goal was blown out and nearly doubled. We saw the start of house churches in Corvallis and Bend!
As a family of believers, we must always be striving to be Christ like, to fill out the full measure of our spiritual potential. Church growth and personal growth are cemented together, tighter than bone and marrow. Our bonds to each other, and fight for unity in the planting of the church was an amazing testament for 2016. I give thanks to God, and those in his service, the ministry leaders who put in work, work, and more work to pull this congregation together.
In my human fault, I can easily measure success by financial numbers or geographical growth. I forget that God sees the heart. So, as I reflect on 2016, the essence is no work done by man, but the work done by God in the hearts of man. To his glory, he builds the church, and unifies the lost! As we gaze back, don’t look at the buildings, look at the people. Don’t measure the physical capacities; count them as rubbish. It is a gain to Christ when the inner workings of the heart mirror his will, with the gear of repentance grinding the gears of love and action.
The following quotes are from church members that felt inspired to share their thoughts on personal growth. I pray we can all take a sober look at our actions in 2016, remembering what God sees, and how he grows families through his disciples. Without further or do, this is what growth in Christ looks like:
“[I grew in] my reliance and trust in God and His Word as my source of joy and love (not man-made methodologies that destroy the above), while at the same time being committed to fellowship with people who embrace that same primary teaching that all the commands revolve around: "Love God and love your neighbor" Mark 12:30-31). Simple is always better. 2016 was one of the best years of my Christian walk (25+ years).” – Rich Hackett Jr.
“I grew in my identity. I switched churches and got married, meeting many people and forming deep relationships with others, but it was my relationship with God that really grew. Kelly Boyd's preaching taught me how much my relationship with my spiritual father had in common with my biological father. Communication with God and knowledge of self is what I gained for 2016.” – Joey Hungerford
“I grew in my reverence for the holiness of God's word. To read it in a way not trying to justify my actions/beliefs bur rather to learn how to act/who & what to believe. Sounds silly but it was a big mind adjustment for me. To live my life solely by what the Bible says, not by my own interpretation of it, or other people's interpretation of it, but to look at as my personal connection with God.” – Madison Hungerford
“This year, I want to say God has really shaken my foundations in a lot of ways. My ideas, secret doubts and fears of who God is were/ are being shaken off to where only God, as He really is, remains. In 2016, through many different circumstances, I feel God has taken me to the end of myself and said, "ok kid, you gotta trust me on this one," with me not very clearly not (classic). Even still, God has patiently and faithfully shown Himself to me as a loving dad providing overwhelming providence, my real home, a standard of impossible perfection, and a beloved who is relentless in His pursuit of me, stands with me, and refuses to leave me in my mess (which is electrifying given the constant state of mess that I am). Most of all, when He says "I love you," more than ever before, He's helping me to believe it.” – Kris Parr
“My realization that God wants us to have the Good Life aka a close walk with him.
Also, realization that I need a balanced support system so that I stay headed toward Godliness: mentors, peers, people I serve.” – Isaiah Hall
“2016 has been a year of faith! God kept making things happen! I learned that if I keep faithful God works! Sometimes that meant getting out of God's way, meaning if I stay positive and let God work on His schedule and not mine much more happens. My hope is that 2017 will be a year of even greater faith!” - Kelly Boyd
Answering God's calling is never comfortable. We are learning the deeper meaning of faith and trust God. – Nancy Roseburg