We have embraced immaturity. The church has entered into the Neverland of church growth. We have redefined what it means to be a mature Christian. No longer is knowledge of the bible and orthodox doctrines considered the path to Christian maturity. No longer is looked upon as a worthy endeavor to study the bible as a layman. We have accepted the standards setup by the Christian leadership as to what a mature Christian looks like. Peter Pan has become the person who sets the guidelines and defines the qualities of a mature Christian.
The modern definition of a mature Christian is how much they volunteer, how much they are involved in the workings of the church. Volunteering for ushering, greeting, children’s ministries, café, and small group leader is considered the truer sign of a mature Christian. How much is done to advance the vision of the lead Vision Caster is considered the ultimate fulfillment of the Christian life. The more we do so the leader has to do less is considered maturity. Submitting blindly to the leader and his authority allegedly given to him because he received a direct revelation from God via a vision is a mark of true maturity.
I have heard vision casters call those who want teaching that is more directly drawn from the bible, teaching centered on the orthodox doctrines of the historical church, who question or disagree with what the pastor is teaching, human excrement. I have heard pastors claim that those who desire teaching that is exposited from a biblical text are losers, selfish, legalistic, judgmental and Pharisaic.
In Hebrews 5:11-14, we read this:
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
This is said before the writer moves on ahead of a deeper understanding about the priesthood in the order of Melchizedek, and how Jesus is our priest in the order of Melchizedek. He scolds the recipients of his letter for not knowing and understanding more about what the scriptures teach about Jesus, for remaining elementary and child-like in their understanding of the Word of God. The writer of Hebrews indicates that a deeper learning of our Lord and Savior is important but expected. Advancement in learning is a good thing so that we can edify and encourage one another as members of the church body.
We were part of a small group in our church and I was a little surprised and baffled by the lack of understanding of the bible by the leaders of the group. They did not know the difference between justification and sanctification. They had been going to church for years, and not just the one they were in now, the previous church they were leaders. How can it be expected for them to help others understand the bible and doctrine of the bible if they don’t have a clue themselves?
In addition, I have heard our pastor say disparaging remarks about home bible studies. The reason is because there is always someone who likes to show off their knowledge of the bible. The other reason is because it is not monitored so the potential for heretical teaching is high. The implication is that the only one can trust to really teach the truth of the bible is the pastor. Who’s to say that he may teach something that is heretical? Who can question him on what he teaches? This is a dangerous precedent in that if the lead pastor is the sole authority on the interpretation of scripture then who is to hold him accountable for a message that is not biblically sound.
This is the immaturity of the church. The lead pastor and leadership design services that are supposed to be attractive, entertaining and fun. The people in the church are encouraged to serve as a means of spiritual growth and leave the bible teaching to the pastor. The people are spoon-fed teachings with topical messages that address personal needs. This doesn’t lead to spiritual growth but to stagnation. Performing good works is a fruit of our faith and devotion to our Lord but it is not the only sign of spiritual maturity. Teaching others what you have learned is also a good work because you are edifying the church.
The church needs to escape from Neverland Christendom and seek to grow in knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is time for the Captain Hooks, the discerners, to be bold for their church so it does not grow too sick. All teaching should be held accountable to the word of God. No pastor or teacher is above being challenged on what they are teaching.