The Silver Bullet of Spiritual Growth

If you knew of a silver bullet for spiritual growth, would you use it?
As a spiritual trainer, I help a great variety of people. I work with pastors, church leaders, and the unchurched; with everyone from people with doctorates to people with no degree, from my own kids to people in their twenties to those in their seventies, from white Americans to non-American minorities. The diversity adds another layer of difficulty to the already complicated task of spiritual growth.
Spurring people on to grow spiritually is not an easy endeavor. As complex as the task is, though, I have discovered a silver bullet that helps everyone mature in Christ.
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 radio and television series.
So what’s the silver bullet of spiritual growth? Something that drives real growth, not simply an illusion of growth? Here it is: Reflecting on the Bible.
To be clear, it’s not merely reading the Bible, nor studying the Bible; it’s reflecting on the Bible. Here’s how I know.
For close to ten years, churches across America have been taking the REVEAL survey, an assessment that measures spiritual vitality in a church and its members. More than 2,000 churches and half a million people have taken the survey. Perhaps the most significant finding is that 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.
But what about going to church and getting involved? In REVEAL's book Move, Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Church outside of Chicago, admits, “church activities do not predict or drive long-term spiritual growth.” In fact, according to the Barna Group, nearly half (46 percent) of churchgoers say their lives haven’t changed at all as a result of their involvement in church.
It would be easier if we could trust that people would grow by attending services, small groups, or other church programs for a couple of hours a week. However, as the author of Hebrews wrote so powerfully, 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” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
In other words, reading the Bible is Step One for spiritual growth. 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?

Justin Gravitt is Dayton (Ohio) Area Director for Navigator Church Ministries. Read more from Justin at his blog, One Disciple to Another.