• Will Spink
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    Youth/Children
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    Director, Children's Ministry
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    Assistant Director, Children's Ministry
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Pastor’s Note: Growing up as a Church


One of the joys of the past few weeks for me has been the chance to hear stories and memories from many of Southwood’s early members. Time and again I’ve heard of a group marked by a humble dependence upon God, a passion to reach their neighbors for Christ, a personal belief in the transforming love of Jesus, and a zealous commitment to the Word of God. These seemingly simple priorities characterized Southwood in her infancy and early years; there weren’t a lot of complicated plans or glamorous strategies. But now we’re turning 30 ...

I can still remember turning 30 myself and feeling what many people do sometime during this season of life: a deep sense that it’s time to grow up, a new weight of responsibility, and a desire to make a difference and be a part of something that really matters. And the temptation many of us know well is to think that growing up will mean leaving behind the things of childhood, blazing a new trail, and shaping a new life for myself as a mature adult.

The Bible reminds us that spiritual maturity – growing up as a person or a church – doesn’t work that way. In fact, growing up means growing deeper into Jesus, increasing in our dependence upon him, gaining confidence in his love and humility about our own capabilities. It means embracing rather than rejecting the beauties of infant faith.

Think about just a few biblical pictures of mature living. Proverbs instructs us that wise godly living involves having the love and faithfulness of God etched on our hearts and always before us. Paul tells the Corinthian Christians not to build on any foundation but Christ, and he reminds the Ephesian believers that they are called into one body in order to grow up into Christ. In Revelation Jesus warns churches not to forsake their first love but rather to renew their commitment to loving him in word and deed.

Perhaps my favorite verse in this regard is Colossians 1:28: “Him (Christ!) we proclaim … that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” Maturity comes in our union with Christ – not by moving on from that essential relationship. We need to grow up by growing down deeper into Jesus. It’s the good news of Jesus, the peace achieved by the blood of his cross, and his empowerment for daily life that is Paul’s message for a maturing church. No complex new ideas – the simple, glorious gospel of Jesus.

I’m not suggesting that we “rest on our laurels” or think we’ve arrived as a church and need nothing to change in the years ahead. In fact, I’m praying the Spirit brings revival in our hearts and our community bigger than we can dream. I’m praying the gospel transforms our relationships, our schedules, our priorities, and then the next generation. I’m praying Jesus will overwhelm us with his love and the ways He plans to use this part of his Church to storm the gates of hell.

But I am suggesting that seeing these things take place may involve embracing the weakness, simplicity, and dependence of infancy in ways we may not expect. Many people have shipwrecked their lives in an attempt to redefine themselves as mature and meaningful. Many churches have lost sight of the glory of Jesus Christ and him crucified in an attempt to redefine themselves as mature and meaningful.

Might I suggest we take some lessons from those who came before us? Use this season of 30 days of prayer to launch yourself and your small group into a renewed prayerful dependence upon God. Renew your commitment to having the Word of God shape your heart more than any other input in your life. Redouble your zeal to see your neighbors know Jesus, his saving grace, and the glory of his kingdom. Above all else, push yourself, your family, and your church to be desperately, joyfully, and increasingly focused on Jesus – his unfailing love for you as his bride that He will never let go no matter what.