Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories. Unless you have lived under a rock most of your life, you are probably familiar with the story. Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. He is a mischievous boy who can fly and who refuses to grow up. Peter spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of The Lost Boys, interacting with mermaids, Indians, fairies and pirates, and from time to time meeting ordinary children from the world outside.

Sometimes Christians, and as a result, churches, are a lot like Peter Pan. We like things the way they are. We enjoy the status quo. We like our lives just as they are. We enjoy some adventure, but it seems to be the adventure that we create, and thus is never really dangerous or risky.

In the movie Hook, starring Robin Williams as Peter and Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, we find that peter has fallen in love with his friend Wendy’s granddaughter Moira. This causes him to decide to grow up so he could get married and be a father. It seems that having the same adventures with pirates, mermaids, and fairies, had created dissatisfaction with Peter once he found true love.

We are continuing to examine the “Key Characteristics” of our church, as outlined in our constitution. This week, we come to the issue of growth. The entry in our constitution reads:
Growth: Families foster both numerical and individual growth. Among other things, new births and succeeding generations ensure the continuation of the family. This is one reason we share the gospel. But we also share the gospel so that individuals can grow into the persons God wants them to be. Moreover, while salvation is instantaneous, growth spans a lifetime. For this reason, we provide regular opportunities for people to continue to grow in the knowledge of God and commitment to Jesus Christ.

I think this “characteristic” has a great deal to say to us. It reminds me of the old saying, “There are two ways to get to the top of a tree. You can climb it or you can plant an acorn and sit on it for a few years.” Unfortunately there are many Christians who would much rather sit and wait on growth, (both numerical and spiritual) than to work toward it.

The characteristic above has a good grip on the ways we foster growth in our churches. We have to both provide for the numerical and spiritual growth of the children coming into our church, as well as reaching others outside our church who are either not Christian or who do not have a church home.

I also think it is accurate in that the numerical and spiritual growth begins with the family. We have emphasized family worship and spiritual growth in families in the last few weeks. I have talked about it from the pulpit, I have devoted time in this column to it, Pastor Greg has developed a tool to make family worship at home easier, and he has also preached about it two Sundays ago.

I am of the belief that numerical growth in a church will always be superficial and temporary, unless the spiritual growth and commitment to Christ comes first. Peter Pan had no desire to “grow up” until he found his true love in Moira. Unless we find our true love and all that we need in Jesus Christ, we are doing nothing more than Peter was doing in Neverland.
There is more to life than the simple routine that we are in. Jesus wants to take us on so many adventures. We just have to give everything up for Him.

There's more to this life, than livin' and dyin', more than just tryin' to make it through the day. More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see, and there's more than this life alone can be. (Phil Naish, Steven C Chapman 1989)

We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16 NKJV)

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