Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Am Not the Only One Who Rants!


Mark Beeson (a pastor in the states) blogged a rant about maturity in the church and what it means. This is what he wrote:
"Three days ago Rick Warren proffered this question for me to mull over. What is the mature church?
I knew immediately how I would respond: "The 'mature church' is the church filled with immaturity."
Anywhere in the world, whether plant or animal, the clear delineation of maturity is the ability to reproduce. Immature animals can't reproduce. Immature plants can't replicate themselves. The definition of maturity is being fully ripe, fully aged, so the connotation of maturity is obvious. Where you see maturity you'll observe new life, babies and immaturity all over the place.
Maturity desires reproduction. Maturity tolerates juvenile behavior (from juveniles) while training its progeny for success in life. Maturity means little [babies] running all over the place.
If you attend a mature church, be prepared for immaturity. Where you find mature Christians you'll find little babes in Christ running all over the place. In fact, if you have been looking for a church where everyone tithes and everyone serves--you're not looking for a mature church, you are looking for a dying church - aged, impotent and bereft of spiritual newborns because everyone is mature.
Few things are more disturbing than a flock of adult believers standing around complaining that no one has come to Christ while refusing to do something that might result in new life. So when you bump into someone who acts immature at one of our services, don't complain, and don't be surprised. Instead, thank God the mature in Christ are busy delivering newborn babies to the family of God."

What are your thoughts?

8 comments:

Karen said...

What is the mature church?

You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food.
And a person who is living on milk isn't very far along in the Christian life and doesn't know much about doing what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right. So let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don't need to start all over again with the importance of turning away from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don't need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to restore to repentance those who were once enlightened-those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come- and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people to repentance again because they are nailing the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting him, holding him up to public shame. When the ground soaks up the rain that falls on it and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has the blessing of God. But if a field bears thistles and thorns, it is useless. The farmer will condemn that field and burn it. Dear friends, even though we are talking like this, we really don't believe that it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other Christians, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and patience.

Hebrew 5:12 – 6:12 NLT

My observations:

Spiritual maturity means being ready to explain our faith to others when asked.

Spiritual maturity requires training our thoughts and actions to conform to God’s standards.

Spiritual maturity means doing the right thing even when we might not really want to.

Spiritual maturity means continually moving forward and deepening our understanding of who God is.

Spiritual maturity means caring for those in our church community and all people who are followers of Christ.

Spiritual maturity means making a commitment to love others as our way of life.

Spiritual maturity means living with a goal and purpose.

Spiritually mature people are wise people who are interested in life, love and others.

Those are the first things that come to mind……

RosalieG said...

I respect Rick Warren. Not sure of the context of his question.

As for a "mature church" I will provide an indirect quote I heard from Rick Warren himself when at his seminar in California several years ago, AND provide an ouch factor:

"a mature church is a church that doesn't criticize other churches because, hey, in case it is forgotten, we're on the same team.

God can use each one in a different way."

Steve Blackwell said...

This is a piece that is disturbing, to say the least. It seems the more I read, from the Warren churches, the worse it gets. Is there no end to their nonsense. I have added my comments; I couldn’t let it go. This man could be the pastor in any of a million Christian churches. God help us!


"What do I see when I look out my window? This male turkey scratching in the snow and leaves. His beard indicates he's mature. In a few weeks he'll breed as many hens as possible and we'll end up with little turkey poults running all over the place."

"If you have mature birds you'll soon have immature birds; that's the way it works."

"Three days ago Rick Warren proffered this question for me to mull over. "What is the mature church?"


"I knew immediately how I would respond."

When someone makes a statement like the above you need to listen very carefully, because Mr. Quickdraw is just as likely to shoot his self in the foot as he is to give the correct answer.

"The 'mature church' is the church filled with immaturity."

"Anywhere in the world, whether plant or animal, the clear delineation of "maturity" is the ability to reproduce. Immature animals can't reproduce. Immature plants can't replicate themselves. The definition of maturity is "being fully ripe, fully aged" so the connotation of maturity is obvious. Where you see maturity you'll observe new life, babies and immaturity all over the place."

This is just the kind of stuff we have come to expect from the Church of the World. This is not a description of a mature Church, this is a description of how to justify all the worldly, immature masses that fill the buildings of men called Churches. If the subject matter was “turkeys” then this argument would be valid, but we’re talking about men. Nature has a way of dealing with its defects, those turkeys who never mature, they die, but the church is not at all like turkeys (that point may be somewhat arguable on a different level). Retarded Christians fill the pews and continue to reproduce more retarded Christians. The level of immaturity in Christianity is repulsive and unacceptable. These preachers who promote immaturity are false teachers. They consistently teach their congregations how to live in the world with all their financial advisers, psychologist, business managers, philosophers, and program directors.

"Maturity desires reproduction."

"Maturity tolerates juvenile behavior (from juveniles) while training its progeny for success in life."

"Maturity means "little poults running all over the place."


The Churches across this land and world are more like turkey farms, bred and raised in total isolation, headed for destruction. These turkeys have never seen the light, and neither have most so called Christians. They are kept in containment by those who make merchandise of their souls; they are nothing but meat for the Devils table. Where in God’s Holy word does this man justify tolerating immaturity. 1 Cor 3:1-3 “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk , not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.”

Heb 5:11-14 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk , not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk , being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

In these verses Paul spells out plainly the problem with immature Christians; it is carnality, worldliness, slowness, retardedness, and never having grown because they were never given the proper nourishment by those caring for the flock.

"If you attend a mature church, be prepared for immaturity."

"Where you find mature Christians you'll find little "babes in Christ" running all over the place. In fact, if you have been looking for a church where "everyone tithes" or "everyone serves" you're not looking for a mature church, you are looking for a dying church - aged, impotent and bereft of spiritual newborns because "everyone" is mature."


What about the Church where two or three are gathered together, all very mature, is it a dying Church, weak, impotent and bereft because everyone is mature? What is spiritual maturity any way? Isn’t it the grasping of the elementary fact of faith in God? Jesus instructs us that basic child like faith, (maturity) was a prerequisite of mature adulthood Christianity? These little “babes in Christ” he talks about are not the babes of the living God, who know what faith is, and display maturity far and above what we see in all the “christian” poultry farms they call Churches.

"Few things are more disturbing than a flock of adult believers standing around complaining that "no one has come to Christ" while refusing to do something that might result in new life."

"So when you bump into someone who acts "immature" at one of our Easter services, don't complain, and don't be surprised. Instead, thank God the "mature in the Christ" are busy delivering newborn babies to the family of God."


This is what is being passed along to the sleeping sheep. This is what thy are being fed. Their buildings are full, I’ll grant them that, convinced that they are breeding machines.

Steve Blackwell

RosalieG said...

Steve: I'm not sure what you mean by the "Warren churches". While Mark Beeson is pastor of a "Purpose Driven" church, I don't think his church falls under the umbrella of Saddleback - Warren's church. I understood the quote was Mark Beeson's response to Rick Warren. It is not Warren talking.

I think the point is that he feels a mature church is one that is reproducing itself, ie. reaching the lost. It is presumptuous, however, to assume there is no discipleship or solid food going on there. I hope Mark Beeson also means that reproduction will include deeper discipleship and I hope he has built such opportunities into his church. I do know for a fact that Saddleback, has quite extensive opportunities for discipleship including a seminary.

Of course, as in any church it takes an immature person's willingness to go from attending Sunday services, to making themselves open and available for discipleship.

novice said...

I would not be so quick to dismiss Dr Beeson's post (I confess, I didn't know who he was, I had to google him) :)

It seems to me that what he's saying is that spiritual immaturity is a natural stage in the life of a Christian, and that we should show more grace and less judgment. I guess I can see where he's coming from, although I hadn't thought of it that way.

Most of us are okay with the noise from kids when we're in church because it means kids are a part of it and there's a younger generation on the way. We're a little less patient with noise from teens, because we figure they should know better.

So, like you say, Steve, there's a problem if the immature stay immature indefinitely. I really don't think Beeson is saying much more than that, though. I certainly see nothing in the original post about promoting immaturity.

I really like your post, Karen. What I found particularly interesting was that most of the things you pulled out of the Hebrews passage are not milestones or markers, but indications of being on a journey... eg, "living with a goal and purpose", "continually moving forward", "training our thoughts", "making a commitment". And, a few markers (promises?) thrown in - "wise people who are interested in life, love and others". I would love to think that some day that could describe me.

What I take away from this is that "immaturity" is a natural place to be, but you can't stay there. And maturity is not some magical destination you arrive at and can look down on those "less mature" (sorely tempting though I find it), but a place in life where you're heading the right way and have a responsibility to look to the needs of those around you.

So much easier just to not like the immature people. :(

SoulPastor said...

I love the dialogue!
For me, I found Beeson's response is what struck me... he said
"I knew immediately how I would respond:"

Got me thinking about myself speaking before I think it through...

Anyway...continue on people!

Misty B said...

There was something that bugged me about this post and I think I finally figured it out. The use of the word immature to describe adults who have recently come to Christ is condescending. Would you want to be described as immature?

With the use of that word aside I understand what he is referring to. I would much rather be in a church where there is a bunch of new people and all of there 'stuff' than in a church where everyone gives the impression of having it all together.

DSW said...

There are some of us who have been on a journey with God for many years and would still prefer to be labelled immature.

I dont think I'll ever escape being immature... See Lust that doesnt go away. See Pride that cant be shaken. See Jealousy that cant be resolved. The list can go on.

What I find truly distressing is that the mark of a mature Christian in this scenario is someone who tithes and serves others. There are A LOT of people who do these things but dont engage in purity, honesty, peace-making, being inspiring etc. I bloody wish that was the criteria for maturity. Its as Paul says, only in weakness, only when we accept that until we die we are all immature do we really embrace some semblance of maturity... and even in there in that moment, that's when we get cocky thinking we have at last found maturity.. See Pride again.

He's right in at least this much, in a church we should be prepared to see immaturity, in fact without it where would the grace of Jesus be in the first place.

Heart.

DSW