What behaviors lead to spiritual growth? According to Daniel Im, author of No Silver Bullets, studies show that three behaviors matter most:
- Reading the Bible
- Attending a worship service at your church
- Attending small classes or groups for adults from church, such as Sunday school, Bible study, small groups, Adult Bible Fellowships, etc.
In other words, if you want to grow, it’s important to read the Bible and to get involved in worship and community at a church. Few things matter more than these.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Scripture often reminds us that we need others to grow. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” Hebrews says, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). The many “one another” commands of the Bible — love one another, encourage one another, etc. — remind us that we need each other. We don’t grow alone. We need others if we’re going to grow the way that God intends.
Don’t Believe Two Lies
If we’re going to grow, we need to stop believing two lies.
First, don’t believe the lie that you can grow alone. There’s no such thing as a solo Christian. No matter how much you read the Bible and pray by yourself, you will never grow the way that God designed by yourself. He’s designed us for community. If you’re a Christian, you’re part of God’s family. You were meant to grow within a church community.
Second, don’t believe that church exists to please you. Approach church as a disciple, not as a consumer. Frankly, church shouldn’t please you. Biblical community is costly, inconvenient, and uncomfortable — and also necessary and a source of great joy. In his book Uncomfortable, Brett McCracken writes:
What we think we want from a church is almost never what we need. However challenging it may be to embrace, God’s idea of church is far more glorious than any dream church we could conjure. It’s not about finding a church that perfectly fits my theological, architectural, or political preferences. It’s about becoming like “living stones” that are “being built up as a spiritual house” focused on and held together by Jesus, the stone the builders rejected who became the cornerstone (1 Pet. 2: 4– 7).
Embrace church not because it gives you want you want, but because it gives you what you need.
Nobody Grows Alone
I’ve never met a mature Christian who hasn’t grown in community. To grow, we need to worship with others, hearing God’s Word and praising God together. To grow, we also need to sit in a living room or classroom, building relationships and learning together. We need to pursue worship and community within a local church.
Read the Bible. Get involved in a church. If you want to grow, these behaviors will help you. We grow best when we absorb God’s Word and pursue worship and community within a church.