Children have everything done for them. We don't expect anything different, and neither do they. Of course, we want them to mature, to become more and more responsible for themselves in all areas. We move them into adulthood. We call this maturity. That is one of our main purposes as parents and adults in their lives.
Unfortunately, we don't have this same mindset in much of the church. The defining of maturity seems illusive, like a target we never hit or sure of where and what it is. We claim we are training, teaching, leading, etc. people into maturity, and yet they never seem to reach it! All through the process we communicate messages like: "you need me for your spiritual growth", or " without my leadership, you and everything else will fall apart", or "your not ready yet, and I'll be the one to know when you are".
No wonder we have people who are immature, insecure, without initiative and motivation. We have not been creating adults with all of our "ministry" but perpetual children and young adults never venturing out on living their own adventures in Christ. We have not made maturity each persons responsibility but rather someone else's job to produce it in them.
I home schooled my kids for most of their lives, and did it a bit differently than what I saw around me at the time.
I watched home school parents who dictated every lesson. They picked it, taught it, monitored the progress of the lesson, and then corrected it. The student was a passive participant really - just obeying the system. Many had official times to start, do a lesson, take breaks, and end. They even set up rooms in the house as special home school classrooms. Very official, and very professional looking.
I wasn't a professional. I knew I couldn't give my kids everything they needed for a good let alone great education. I went into it not as a teacher, rather as a facilitator of their learning.
I went into homeschooling with the desire to create an environment that stimulated a love of learning, which would ultimately be their motivation. I wanted to key into and release their own motivation for learning which ultimately is what would sustain the process throughout their lives. That meant finding out what that motivation was (what excited them) and letting that motivation direct much of their learning.
I also learned quickly that I needed to instill from the beginning that they were responsible for their studies, not me.
I'm always amazed that many in the Body of Christ, still look to others to constantly "parent" them and they never grow past adolescence at best. These people want everything done for them, and nothing much asked of them. They wait for others to tell them what they should do, think or volunteer for. They can't learn but through someone else's teaching. They can't lead because no one has "released them" to do so. They walk in only a shadow of what their lives in the Kingdom could be.
In some simple churches, there is the propensity to fall right back into this way of functioning together because it is familiar, and in many ways much easier for all involved. We have leadership that still often keeps others dependent upon them for constant instruction, guidance, inspiration, correction and motivation.
But we have incredible opportunities within the context of simple, organic, missional churches to foster environments of maturity. To create atmospheres that encourage initiative, creativity, responsibility and ultimately; "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." I Cor. 14:19-21.
In the next blog post I'll dig into this a bit more.