The God Factor in Spiritual Growth… Preparing the ground for dynamic spiritual growth in the life of new believers in the slum context.
Movements must create dynamic spiritual growth • The danger of modern Christian movements is that through organisation and planning they grow faster than the spiritual development of their constituents and the movement either implodes or stagnates. • “God’s work must be done in God’s way with God’s power”.
Structure can become more important than a relational community ! • This the second danger that can limit spiritual growth and the fruit of what God does in the slum context • The Holy Spirit exercises His compassion for the poor through our availability to respond. Mobility and availability are key to our authority in Christ to minister with authority among the poor. • Servant Leadership seeks to be authoritative (the spiritual dimension) and incarnational (the social dimension)
Mother Theresa focussed on loving people…. • The Missionary Sisters of Charity went through a period of creating a structure and fundraising organisation. • After a number of years Mother Teresa dismantled this structure because Jesus told her that structure had taken the focus off loving the poor. • An incarnational ministry among the poor must have that level of integrity. It will always put loving the poor before creating or serving structures and organisations.
Organisations create beauraucratic structures… • Most organisations create a culture where the servants of the organisation give allegiance to the organisation first rather than serving the needy first. • Their loyalty is to the organisation that pays them. • This makes NGO’s and compassionate Christian ministries like the Government organisations in the eyes of the poor. • They see the organisation serving the employees rather than them. The rejected poor want to find someone who will love them unconditionally. • Mother Teresa had to start a separate order (Missionary Sisters of Charity) to achieve this quality of love for the poor, dying and destitute.
Ministry structures can stifle growth….in lives…. • The freedom to offer unconditional love is a dynamic that creates spiritual growth. • An incarnational ministry among the poor makes the worker available to love the poor and relate to them when they need help. • People who know they are loved grow in grace and love themselves. They form cooperative partnership relationships with the person who loves them. This is the way they show their appreciation for the love they receive.
Jesus exemplified this love for the poor and despised…. • He changed his itinerary to minister to the poor. He was people oriented. • His ministry team was mobile and responsive to the needs of the poor. • He did not place the needs of his disciples ahead of His unconditional love for the poor. • He knew that He was the only person through whom the poor were going to experience justice and unconditional love.
The Apostle Paul understood the concept of partnership with the Spirit • 1Corinthians 3 verse 6 – 7, 9 • “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants or the one who waters is anything, but God causes the growth.” • For we are God’s fellow workers (partners), you are God’s field, God’s building.
The pendulum swing of Christian history…. In Christian history the Church has swung through two extremes; • Formalism with little evidence of the Spirit • The Spirit will do everything. The Church is most effective when it finds a balance between these two extremes. This is the partnership we have with God that Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 3 verse 9 “We are God’s fellow workers…God causes the growth” The farmer has to till the ground and plant the seed and gather the harvest but God sends the rains and the sun in its proper time.
It is God’s work…we have the privilege of partnering with Him in His work. • God intended this partnership with mankind in bring the power of the Kingdom of God on earth. • Jesus commanded us to make disciples Matt 28 verse 18-20 • The Father took Jesus out of the world and sent His Spirit as the executor of His will. The Spirit’s presence is manifest in the lives of the children of God by His indwelling presence. John 20 v 22; Acts 2 v 4; Romans 8 vs 9 – 18; Eph 5 v 18. • God has committed Himself to partner with mankind
We partner with God in all aspects of His work…. His suffering…. and His glory. • Romans 8 verses 17- 18 • “We are fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” • He incarnated Himself, we are to incarnate • He advocates for us before the Father, we are to advocate for the poor before the throne of Grace. • We are to enter into His joy… Read Matthew 25 v 20 - 23
What is this joy Jesus was talking about in this parable • Jesus was talking about the fact that he has given us talents and abilities. When yielded to the Spirit of God these talents and abilities are to be used in partnership with the Spirit for the growth of His kingdom in the lives of His people. • This gives the Master joy and gives us great joy as well. To see someone grow up to maturity brings great joy.
The joy of living in a loving, caring community • Marva Dawn has written a book called “Truly Community – an exposition of Romans 12 v 8 • The Greek word for cheerfulness is “hilarotes”. It implies a deep joy from being in the loving, caring community of the Body of Christ • Paul says we are to “show mercy with cheerfulness” Romans 12 v 8 • Everything you do in slum ministry should be done in mercy with cheerfulness; a deep joy coming from the fact that you are doing what you do in the development of a loving, caring community context…the Body of Christ. This was Jesus objective with His 12 disciples. • This is why it is important for the slum activity to be a communal activity. The joy comes not only from the Holy Spirit’s presence but from the joy of being with each other in community, our spiritual extended family.
The joy of the manifest presence of the Spirit… • God delights in his children who obey His commandments. Matt 25 v 21 • There is great joy in obedience. Luke 15 v 7 • We encourage each other in a team ministry, as one day one person is up and another down. The encouraged one strengthens the discouraged one. • The Holy Spirit promises His anointing on our living together in community • Psalm 133 “ How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity….God commands His blessing on such people…
How does spiritual growth occur? How can we help new believers grow to maturity? There are five key elements where we can partner with the Holy Spirit in developing spiritual growth; • Teachingthe new believer how to pray • Applying the teaching of Scripture to their lives – revealing the will of God to them, by answering their questions in a Biblical way and from our experience of what God has done in our lives • Helping them develop positive relationships with their family, community and the Church through friendship and reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5 v 17-19. • Service of others in the Church and the community. Eph 4 verse 12 • Teaching them to experience the presence of God through worship, meditation and prayer. Acts 2 v 42-47
In this process of growth believers pass through stages of development … • The Apostle John and Paul described it within the concept of human development; Stage 1 Babies – 1 Corinthians 3 verse 1 Stage 2 Children – 1 John 1 verses 12 Stage 3 Young persons – 1 John 1 v 13 Stage 4 Fathers – 1 John 1 v 13-14
These stages of human development are likened to… 1. Babes – Those in need of intense care - Feeding every four hours • Cleaning every time they soil themselves • Sleeping all the time – no work just demands, and needs and intense care Why do we do it; We love the baby because it is a reflection of ourselves. This intense care will only last for a season then the joy of childhood will come. Note: Some babes are even born with difficulties, handicaps etc. The spiritual babes of the slums are like this too – handicaps such as drug and alcohol addiction, sexual abuse, gambling, criminal records, compulsive stealing, violent tempers, demonic possession are so commonly present in the babes born in the slums. But we love them all the same.
2. Children – Those learning to talk, walk, eat and clean themselves Children know their sins are forgiven, they experience the joy of God’s unconditional forgiveness in Christ They know and recognise the Father’s voice, His will and His love. 3. Young persons – Those who learning competency in running, playing the game of life, being fruitful and productive, choice in decision making between good and bad, and obedience to God, parents and teachers, and building positive relationships with God, family and the community. Dependency broken. They have become strong, abide in God’s word, are fruitful, and know how to overcome the evil one.
4. Fathers – They know God intimately This came about through years of experience, testing, hardship and trials and as the Apostle Paul says this produces great faith and great hope. Romans 5 verses 1-5. They have learned the lessons of nurturing children to adulthood They have been faithful in marriage, and faithful in their relationship with God. This process of faithfulness and constantly applying the principles of reconciliation has produced humility and an authority born out of servant-hood They have moved from delight in power, to delight in the intimacy of loving faithfulness.
Another way at looking a spiritual growth is through the seasons of nature… • Spring – new birth, rapid new growth from infancy. • Summer – moving on to maturity, harvest, strength in the heat, energy, long hours of sunlight. • Autumn – beautiful colours, a process of dying, pruning, the leaves drop off the maximise the light of the sun in winter. We distribute seed from our fruit • Winter – little reliance on one’s own strength, an appearance of death, internal life, pruning, buds form, the promise of new growth. Our seed is planted and getting ready to emerge in the next spring.
Four seasons of growth in our lives and ministry…… • Security– We become members of a new happy family. We experience new ways of having fun and celebrating. • Commitment – Through committed relationships we become disciples or disciplined leaders in groups with authority to minister reconciliation, healing and deliverance. We bear fruit and start a second generation. • Quality – Through experience, testing, and trials, we become mature quality leaders, delegating ministries to others while mentoring and supervising a number of groups. A third generation is birthed. ( we now have grandchildren). • Calling – Apostolic and prophetic roles enable us to serve others in pioneering and establishing their ministries. Multiple families of great grandchildren are birthed….See pages 168-180 “Cry of the Urban Poor”
These four stages give focus to the ministry groups we need for nurturing growth….. • The first new babes group gives security and confirms assurance of salvation • The second group affirms commitment to Christ and His body through baptism and discipleship • The third group dynamic develops the quality of the disciples ministry fruitfulness • The fourth group mentors the leader through seasons in ministry, and into apostolic callings.
Collating these ideas together in a matrix…. • Human Seasons in Seasons in groups, development nature families/communities Babes Spring Security Children Summer Commitment Youth Autumn Quality Fathers Winter Calling
Acknowledgements….. • Marva Dawn “ Truly the Community” Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, USA • Gene Getz “ Sharpening the Focus of the Church” USA. • Viv Grigg “ Cry of the Urban Poor” MARC, USA • Dr Ralph Neighbour, “Where do we go from here?” USA. • Rev. Dr Joshua Sutjiono Pastor, Jakarta, Indonesia