When people first get saved and are brought into the family, we make sure that they have a Bible, and that they know how to pray, and send them on their way to "grow up". We tell them, "Read and pray, my bother, read and pray." And we think we are doing them a service. Let's look at it in another light...
Let's say that I want to become a mechanic. So, I go to a local mechanic that I know, or have heard about his shop, and tell him that I'm interested in becoming a mechanic. He welcomes me into the shop, shows me all the wonderful trinkets and gadgets that are there and then when I finally make the decision to become a mechanic, everyone rejoices. He takes me to his office, we sit down and have a cup of coffee and he hands me the instruction manual of how to build a car and a single ratchet.
"This is all you'll ever need." He says.
Just read the instructions and use the tool and you'll be able to build your own car from scratch.
"But, how do I..." I asked in confusion before I was cut off.
"No... wait, don't get yourself confused. Just read the instructions and use the ratchet and you'll be fine."
"But, what about all the other stuff you have in your shop?" I asked
"That's all for me to help people know more about their cars and what you can do with them." He replied
"Oh... OK." I mumbled in confusion, wondering how that is helpful when I don't have my car built yet.
"Great! Well, get started on the build. I would recommend building the engine first, it really helped me to get going... Oh, and come back next week and we'll be looking at how you can better improve your tires to stay on the road while driving in the rain! Have a great day!"
Now... I realize that was my very bad attempt at a story, but I hope that you see the underlying tone. When people get saved, we hand them a Bible, and tell them to pray, and expect them to do the rest of the work themselves! Or worse, we put them into our "10 steps to becoming a holy, righteous person... like me!" class, and when they don't like it, we say their too "carnal"
I think they way my friend Will said it yesterday is best:
"Growth is not being able to build the car with the blueprints. Growth is being able to build the engine without them. I might have to look back at the instructions to see what's next, or how it works with the next piece, but I know how to make the engine. That's growth."
I could not have said it better. But, would like to add to his thought. We should teach people how to read the Bible and how to pray, but we should also show them how to live out the faith that they are trying to build up in their lives!! There is no better way to teach someone that to tell them, show them, and then have them teach someone else!!
"Perhaps the "nothing but the book" attitude and approach to discipleship leaves us with exactly that, nothing but the book."
- Just a thought.