Christian growth is simple, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Growing spiritually can feel difficult, so we naturally assume it is complex. This is a dangerous trap that can keep us from health. When we believe the formula for growth is too complex to master, it lets us off the hook from even trying. Take physical health as an example. Staying healthy isn’t easy, but it is simple; eat right, exercise, sleep enough, and drink a lot of water! But there are so many workout plans, eating routines, and sleep studies that it’s easy to get lost. As a result, how many of us never start or stick to a plan because we aren’t quite sure if it’s the right plan? Spiritual health can really be the same way. With so many pastors, podcasts, books, denominations, and theological positions, it’s easier to throw our hands up in frustration than to nail down a plan.
Christian growth is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
There is good news for us though. The early church provided a very simple formula for Christian growth. In a highly individualistic society that has been discipled by Disney movies and post-modern professors, there is a popular belief that spiritual growth isn’t one size fits all. I’ve heard before, “There is no formula to growing in a relationship with God.” Nothing could be further from the truth. God must give desire, and all growth is a gift from his hand, but when Christians grow, it comes from steadily leaning into God’s design. At Mercy Hill, we call this design the Acts 2 Flywheel. It follows the basic pattern of gather, group, give, and go. While this pattern is reinforced all over the New Testament, it is easy to see in Acts 2:46-47, “And day by day, attending the temple together (gather) and breaking bread in their homes (groups), they received their food with glad and generous hearts (give), praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (go).”
For Mercy Hill, the Acts 2 Flywheel provides a straightforward path to Christian growth. Now I am not saying there is nothing else a believer ever needs to learn or do (like personal disciplines, mentorship, spiritual gifts studies, etc.). But I am saying that leaning into these four practical steps will take us a very long way down the path of Christian maturity. In fact, I will make a bold claim. I am not sure I have ever met anyone who was spiritually stagnant that was truly getting after it in these four areas. If someone is spiritually stuck, a major issue in obedience can normally be detected in about four questions.
So how does it actually work? If someone gets in the stream, the current will take them a long way towards Christian maturity. If someone decided today that they no longer want to be stagnant, stuck, or apathetic towards the faith I would simply tell them, as we have for about 9 years now, “get in the stream.” Once in the stream, someone will gather with the church (Hebrews 10:25) and hear the Word expounded weekly and worship our great God every single week. And on a side note, this can happen almost without exception. That is exactly the reason why Mercy Hill runs services from Thursday night to Sunday night – so you have access to the gathering on any schedule. Once in the stream, someone will also faithfully commit to a community group. In the group, they will put the sermon into real-life application and deeply consider what in their life needs to conform with the Bible. They will also have the opportunity to practice brotherly love and showing honor to other believers (Romans 12:10). Once in the stream, someone will learn to give of their time, talent, and treasure (Malachi 3:10). The bringing of the tithe radically turns the heart toward the mission of God. And finally, once in the stream, someone commits to living on mission by sharing the Gospel and inviting people to church (Acts 1:8).
Again, simple doesn’t mean easy. But simple isn’t confusing. Let us see the path with clear eyes and jump all the way in! After all, we were made for more.
– Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)