- 81% of those calling themselves Christians said spiritual maturity is "following all the rules"
- Half of churchgoers don't know how their own church defines a "healthy spiritually mature follower of Jesus."
- Only 21% of Christians described their relationship with Jesus as a sign of their own personal spiritual maturity, 14% living a moral lifestyle, 13% being involved in spiritual disciplines.
- A minority of churches have a written statement outlining the expectations of spiritual maturity and they often define this by what people do, not what they believe
- Outside of this Barna study, Chip gives the anecdotal case where he asked 50 pastors what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and only one was able to give a coherent answer. Everyone else gave a vague version of "a follower of Jesus". When asked further what that looks like, answers varied as described above.
From an interview I heard a couple of weeks ago with Phil Vischer, writer of Veggie Tales:
- 50% of adult Protestants cannot define the word grace
- 60% of high schoolers in youth ministry drop out after graduation
When I became a disciple of Christ, the visible evidence of the numbers above drove me to the fellowship I am in now. I was converted in a campus ministry after being part of another campus ministry that prayed hard Sunday nights after partying hard Saturday night. And the fellowship was more about who was sleeping with who than how were our own personal walks with Christ. I knew there had to be something more than this, and I thank God for leading me to where he did.
I remember when one guy started coming around our campus ministry. He was active in his home church, a few hours down the road, and wanted a local fellowship. He participated in our worship, we studied the Bible, we prayed together, and when he looked at the lives we were striving to lead he told us, "this is just like my church back home. But only for those in leadership." Michael gives a similar story of a brother who was taking a course on discipleship who dropped out because, "This is for preachers, not me." (Mere Churchianity, pg 189)
I look around the current Christian climate and I see a malaise that is contagious. I read book after book and follow blog after blog to try and find the magic formula for what is wrong and how to fix it. But I've forgotten my own conversion and what brought me to the foot of the Cross. I've forgotten the stories of those like my friend above, to whom it never occurred that the lifestyle of a disciple is the expectation of all Christians, not just those in arbitrary positions of leadership. And so I've fallen into the Christian consumerism trap that Michael describes. He gives a great outline of the catalogue of endless "Christian" products that would be worth a post of its own, but instead I'll give my own checklist:
- I write a blog, tweet about my convictions, and follow several others who do the same as we all preach to the same choir.
- I've taken classes on Christian marriages and Christ-honoring finances.
- I've attended countless conferences, seminars, and workshops.
- I've taken classes on Biblical survey and apologetics.
- I listen to Christian radio and buy some of the CDs.
- My kids watch Veggie Tales and we own several DVDs.
- And I can't even begin to count the number of books I've read, most on how to be a "better fill-in-the-blank Christian".