I want to do the best I can to help believers grow in Christlikeness and service to the Lord and His church. Last year was a learning year for me. I created my first online course, made some mistakes, and learned a huge amount about how to serve you better. I want to help more people, and over the last while I’ve had to rethink how I do that with my time and resource constraints. The result is the Spiritual Growth Membership.
What is the Spiritual Growth Membership? This is a membership program designed to move members from where they are now to a higher level of maturity. There are four elements to this growth:
- Build Self-awareness
- Grow in the knowledge of God
- Grow in Discernment
- Develop Maturity
Each of these builds on each other, and contributes to a pattern of increasing maturity. The Spiritual Growth Membership (SGM) is designed to build members up in these four areas.
John Calvin opened his Institutes saying
“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.”
We often think of spiritual growth as growth in the knowledge of God, and so we should. But what is more often missing is a drive to understand the contours of our own heart. Yet, Calvin is right. We cannot know God without also considering who we are. This means facing the reality of ourselves, the good, bad and ugly in order to grasp more fully the riches that are ours in Christ.
How SGM builds self-awareness
A key aspect of Spiritual Growth Membership are regularly released lessons that are intended to be implemented in the lives of members. These are short (10-20 minute) video lessons that take a discreet area of spiritual growth and invites members to reflect on their own walk with Christ through worksheets and lesson guides. As we ask ourselves difficult questions, we begin to see the contours of our hearts and how our flesh operates.
Grow in the knowledge of God
It was Paul’s prayer that believers would grow in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9, Ephesians 1:15-17). While there is no shortage of Bible teaching available, and particularly now on the internet, it is often hard to find Bible teaching that is designed to connect with the world we live in.
I believe that we cannot disconnect these first two elements. Unfortunately, often good Bible teaching lacks application, and often we don’t take the time to ask ourselves the hard questions application requires. It takes time and reflection to intersect life and theology.
How SGM builds the knowledge of God
Each month SGM members will receive a short video lesson focused on building a particular theological understanding relevant to Biblical living. Each lesson will not only teach theology from the Bible, but will invite reflection on how members can live in light of this theology. I believe that theology is inherently practical. The challenge is living based on what we learn – or application. In many ways, the self-awareness grows our understanding of our need for change and the theology builds our understanding of precisely what needs to change. However, these are tightly connected.
Grow in Discernment
The church sorely needs more discernment. Many great Bible teachers have worked admirably well to help people grow in discernment. But one of the trends among Bible teachers that I have observed is that it is hard to teach people to be discerning without being considered polemical, belligerent or arrogant. Nowhere is this more true than in pulpit ministry.
Increasingly pastors are less inclined to point out specific error and specific teachers because there is a fear that doing so constitutes an attack on an individual or group. It isn’t that many pastors are unwilling to or cannot do so, and many do. But the nature of preaching means there is always a risk of creating a backlash and division. While division is inevitable and not always unhealthy (1 Cor 11:18-19), it requires careful handling, clarity and processes.
How SGM builds discernment
Each month I will review a different book that is relevant to spiritual growth. Each year I read literally dozens of books (last year it was 64). Some of these were really good, and some of them were really bad. It is possible to learn from both. When I review a book, not only will I point out the good things in the book, but I will also explain the problems or idiosyncrasies of the authors worldview or theology. This means members can read the good books with understanding (and a few notes), while getting the benefit of the not so good books without having to read them.
As we grow, we will begin to respond to God in new ways. This means learning to think differently, addressing our emotions and affections, and creating new habits and other lifestyle changes. It will also mean growing in service to Christ and to His people within a local church context. Godliness is not just changed lifestyle, but is a life of service.
How SGM builds godliness
As members work through the material, they will begin to take on a heart to serve. This is a natural result of the work of Christ changing the heart of people, but there will also be lessons along the way that specifically focus on service and ministry to help members develop their service to the local church and community
As the Spiritual Growth Membership is developed, I hope to expand it so that students can be connected directly to individuals who are able to be in contact with them, and hold them accountable. This means that pastors or other nominated people can be kept in touch with what the student has been learning and how they are responding so that these people can encourage them and, if necessary hold them accountable.
What you get each month
Rather than inundate members with information, each month they will receive 4 new pieces of content. Each piece of content is designed to be consumed in less than 20 minutes. This means by spending 20 minutes each week, and implementing small changes along the way, members will grow in godliness without being overwhelmed.
Developing the Spiritual Growth Membership
Since this is a brand new service, it is still in development. This means that the opportunity today is to join as a foundation member. There are two key opportunities that come with this:
- Lock in the lowest price. As the program is developed the value members get will grow, and over time this will be reflected in the price. This doesn’t mean I’ll be putting prices up aggressively – my desire is to serve more people. However, there are a number of reasons to change pricing for the benefit of members. But any price changes do not apply to foundation members; foundation members get the best price up front and retain it regardless.
- Help me shape the program. Member feedback is incredibly informative, and helps me make changes that will be beneficial for members for years to come. Foundation members play a key role in this.
Because the program is in development, the full breadth of content is not currently available. Right now, there are 30 lessons available to start on, meaning there is plenty to get started on, but the first theology lessons and book reviews will be created over the next couple of weeks, and then will be released on a regular cycle.
The material that is available now, is from my Transformative Quiet Times course. This course is incredibly practical and has been a blessing for numerous students already. However, the membership is an ideal place for this content, so it will be available there.
How do I get find out more?
More information is available here.