Those of you who attend Heartland will probably remember Stu and Abby Davis. They moved to Colorado a few years ago to accept a ministry position at a church. He’s not always upside-down like that. Mostly he walks around right side up. Anyway, Stu has started a blog (way to go, Stu!), and has an insightful post up titled Potty Training for Adults. Here’s a quote:
We continue to coddle people into Christianity, trying to keep things
"mess-free" so that people will feel at home and comfortable.
Regardless of how long they have called themselves a Christ-follower,
people are never forced to confront their own messiness, much less how
to deal with it properly. it’s covered up, wrapped tightly so no one
can smell the stench, and tossed into an air-tight container…
So our churches become groups of people who have never been forced to
grow up. they’re still in spiritual diapers, walking around and talking
to people, but never really growing beyong a certain point, because
most people won’t tell us when they’re "ready."
I think Stu is on to something here. We’re in the middle of potty-training our two-year-old, and we can’t wait for her to get out of diapers (this might be due to the fact that we have a 15-month-old at home as well – you do NOT want to think about how much, ahem, stuff is in our trash every week). You’d think it would be the same way with church leaders, wanting to spur people on toward maturity, get them out of the diapers, help them grow up, take responsibility, get potty trained.
But like Stu says, this is very often not the case. Instead we try to "coddle people into Christianity" by changing their diapers instead of teaching them to use the toilet. We probably do this because it seems easier at the time to change a diaper than go through the emotional and physical mess of potty training. It’s easier to fix someone’s problem than to help them mature so they can fix their own problems. It’s easier to tell people what to do than teach them to hear God’s voice for themselves. It’s easier to have people need you than to teach them to need God.
The troubling truth is that there are a lot of fringe benefits to keeping people in spiritual diapers. Growing up is a rough process for anyone, involving messiness and struggle and hard feelings. But if we’re going to get spiritually potty trained, we’re going to have to embrace the process. We’re going to have to face our demons and deal with our co-dependencies if we’re going to grow up to maturity in Christ.