How Do We Grow Spiritually?
by Janine Schenone on March 14, 2022
Our RenewalWorks coordinator, Ward Fleri, and I met today with Loren Dixon from the RenewalWorks program to talk about spiritual growth and how to foster it in church members. Our RenewalWorks committee has been talking about spiritual growth, and wondering how to foster it, and how to know that we have grown spiritually. How do we measure it?
Loren said that most people have too big and lofty a notion of spiritual growth, that people expect to see a dramatic transformation from not feeling so spiritual to being a holy swami who is always at peace with everyone. For Christians, she said, spiritual growth means growing in our love of God and neighbor. This happens in small, sometimes undiscernible steps, until a year or two later, we realize we have grown.
One of the ways I grow spiritually is by meeting new people, or by spending time with people I would not normally be around. It turns out that Loren suggested this as a wonderful small step for church members. Go out to coffee with a new church member. Get to know the next-door neighbor you have always found a little annoying. Call the niece who didn’t come for Christmas.
I have found myself stretched by spending time with neighbors, not because they are difficult people, but because we are very different in some ways. It takes a few encounters for me to learn about what is important to them, and it takes a few encounters for them to trust me, the weirdo priest. I can tell you that each encounter stretches me in a good way as I try to seek and serve the Christ in my neighbor. I leave slightly changed each time.
Spiritual growth can be that easy—listening deeply to a new person at coffee hour, sharing a story with a different person in our Embracing Evangelism forum on Sunday, speaking kindly to the bank teller—loving in a small, new way.
I pray that this season of Lent will give you opportunities to grow in small ways—even if it is only to appreciate one new person in your life. God's blessings to you!
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