The Silver Bullet of Spiritual Growth

I consider myself to be a spiritual trainer. In short, my calling entails helping people mature spiritually and creating cultures that are conducive to spiritual growth. Spurring people on to grow spiritually is not an easy endeavor.

In my work, I help a great variety of people. I help pastors, church leaders, and the unchurched; from people with Ph.d’s to people with no degree, from my own kids to those in their 20’s to those in their 70’s, from white Americans to non-American minorities. The diversity adds another layer of difficulty to the already complicated task of spiritual growth.

As complex as the task is, I must confess that I have a silver bullet that helps everyone grow spiritually. If you knew a silver bullet for spiritual growth, would you use it? We’re about to find out!

A “silver bullet” refers to one specific thing that solves a multi-faceted problem The phrase originated in 17th century folklore revolving around a werewolf with a vulnerability to silver, but in America the phrase was popularized in the Lone Ranger series. The Lone Ranger’s use of silver bullets was to symbolize justice, law and order, and to remind himself and others that these values were not to be wasted or taken for granted. He also believed that the silver bullets provided a straighter shot. Interestingly, that belief was disproved in a 2012 episode of MythBusters. Still, the phrase continues today in reference to the one thing that solves a complex problem expediently.

So what’s the silver bullet of spiritual growth? Something that drives real growth, not simply an illusion of growth? Reflecting on the Bible. To be clear, it’s NOT reading the Bible, it’s NOT studying the Bible; it’s reflecting on the Bible. Here’s how I know…

For close to ten years, churches all across America have been taking The Reveal Survey; a survey that measures spiritual vitality in a church and its members. Perhaps the most significant finding of the over 2,000 churches and half a million people who have taken the survey is the fact reflection on Scripture fuels spiritual growth in all Christ followers. This is as true for the new believer as it is for the most spiritually mature among us.

This flies in the face of traditional church wisdom and teaching which implicitly teaches that going to church and getting involved is a reliable way to help people grow spiritually. In Reveal's book Move, Pastor Bill Hybels admits that, “church activities do not predict or drive long-term spiritual growth.” In fact, nearly half (46%) of church goers say their lives haven’t changed at all as a result of their involvement in church.

The truth is, it would be easier if we could trust that people would grow by attending services, small groups, or other church programs for a couple hours a week. If that were the case, others could take the responsibility for our growth. However, Hebrews 4:12-13 is still true, the Bible is “living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” In other words, reading the Bible is step one. Step two is reflection; the habit of being still enough for the Word to do surgery on the core of who we are. When we practice reflection in the midst of community (church) the effect is amplified and serves to protect us from both self-deception and unsound doctrine.

In this case, to know the silver bullet is to have the silver bullet. Now that you have it, what will you do with it?