“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” – Ephesians 4:11–16
I’ve been a church goer all my life and a member of this church for over 15 years. Like many of you who have been long-time church attenders, I’ve done all the things – attended Sunday school, Bible studies, led Bible studies, mentored others, taken fitness classes, worshiped, enjoyed mission trips, youth stuff and even worked on staff.
And like some of you, at this phase in my life, I can get church burnout. At times, church events or programs can begin to feel like “been there, done that” for me, and I can lose my enthusiasm for serving others and doing the work that God is calling me to do for the Kingdom.
So, when our church leadership began to talk about how we can G.R.O.W. and begin to create a lifestyle of faith, I found myself a bit skeptical at first. You know G.R.O.W. right? It stands for Gather in Community, Raise Up, Outward Focus and Walk with God, and these are areas of our faith that we can spend a lifetime developing.
After I began to really understand the purpose, I found it to be a great tool to assess where I am in my walk with the Lord. I began to ask myself, “What areas do I gravitate to and easily pursue and what areas are opportunities for more maturity and exploration?”
I’ll confess that I tend to avoid the Walk with God parts of my faith. I am really undisciplined, so the daily prayer and devotional times suffer in my spiritual life. Then my faith suffers because it’s hard to develop a personal relationship with God if I don’t take time to talk to Him on a pretty regular basis. Lately, my worship attendance hasn’t been so good either – the pandemic really threw me off my practice of attending worship in person.
I can find places where I can work on my faith in every area that is covered in G.R.O.W. and I have to say that really, intentionally thinking about the path I am on, the journey I am taking with the Lord, has been eye-opening.
But this isn’t just about me – this is about the Church as God’s divine plan for bringing His Kingdom to earth through His Son Jesus. As the verse at the beginning points out, we are all given gifts we can use to make the church strong, and these gifts are especially important when we are in turbulent time – like we are now.
I’ve read this passage from Ephesians before, but the part that really spoke to me this time was verse 16: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Specifically, “as each part does its work,” stopped me in my tracks. The whole body, the church, is joined together by all of the people doing what God has called them to do. When we all do our part, the entire church body is unified and grows in love and faithfulness to become a source of strength and direction for a world that is being tossed around by the winds of culture and change. But this only happens if “each part does its work.” That means you and I must – for the entirety of our lives – do the work of growing our faith; all the parts – the Bible studies, the mentoring, the serving, the missions, the devotionals and the giving.
G.R.O.W. helps me understand how to develop a lifestyle of faith so I can grow closer to God and follow His calling for my life – from now until I take my last breath. But even more than my personal journey, G.R.O.W. stresses the importance of every member of the church becoming active and engaged in the mission of the church so we can create real change in a turbulent world.