CAN SPIRITUAL VITALITY BE ENGINEERED?
April 1, 1986
Every pastor wants to encourage Christian maturity. That's why we teach classes, preach sermons, form covenant groups, and copy off reams of discipleship materials. But in the process of weaning believers from milk and developing spiritual carnivores, sometimes pastors wonder: Am I doing any good? Is anybody growing as a Christian? Should I do more? How much of me does the Spirit need to accomplish the job?
Recently "The Chapel of the Air," a radio ministry led by David Mains, produced materials for "Fifty Days to Welcome Christ to Our Church." Combining personal disciplines-Scripture reading and memorization, prayer, performing secret acts of kindness, and tackling destructive habits-with joint preparation and unified themes for Sunday worship, this concentrated effort sought to strengthen the spiritual pulse of congregations.
LEADERSHIP editors Marshall Shelley and Jim Berkley invited pastors from four pilot congregations that had recently completed the "Fifty Days" to reflect on their experiences and the larger question: Can spiritual vitality be engineered? The pastors:
-Carl Abrahamsen, Jr., of Calvary Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.
-William Bliese, just retiring as pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dayton, Ohio, to enter a church consulting ministry.
-Roger Thompson of Trinity Baptist Church in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
-Kent Hughes of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois.
Leadership: As you prepared for this spiritual emphasis, what were you looking for? Realistically, what did you expect to happen?
Carl Abrahamsen: I liked the idea of a unified focus. I saw the opportunity, for instance, to coordinate personal devotions with ...