At Redeemer, our answer to that question is… Nope! We seek to be whole people who are wholly transformed by God, and so we acknowledge that it’s not just a matter of believing the right things (having our intellect and doctrine in order) or doing the right things (choosing righteous actions); God also wants our hearts, with their incredibly wide range of emotions and feelings.
Our staff and Leadership Team have been digging into a book by Peter Scazzero called “The Emotionally Healthy Church,” and it’s led to some engaging conversation around what it means to see emotional maturity as a key component in our overall spiritual maturity. Scazzero wonders in his introduction why some people can seem like absolute saints in matters of faith and piety, but appear emotionally stunted in terms of interpersonal interactions and self-awareness. He argues in his book that, too often, a church’s discipleship plan fails to engage folks in the challenging but rewarding work of growth in emotional maturity, or our so-called “EQ” (emotional quotient). A truly well-rounded approach to Christian formation, Scazzero contends, recognizes that an emotionally healthy church is willing to look beneath the surface of behaviors to the underlying emotions and sentiments that people bring with them into our shared congregational life.
I’m so thankful for the leadership and heart of Rob Schwanz, the leader of our newly relaunched Adult Formation Ministry Team, as well as the committed service of each of this team’s members. Rob will introduce his team and provide an update on this important ministry area at our Congregational Annual Meeting on April 29th (6 pm). I’m very enthusiastic about this team’s desire to weave “life groups” into the fabric of our congregation’s ministry beginning in the fall. These groups will allow folks to grow and be stretched in their faith, in their understanding of God’s Word, in their lives of service, in their relationships with one another, and in their emotional health and awareness.
Sometimes, we might wonder whether we can bring all of our emotional “stuff” to God. We might think we need to make our prayers “presentable” in order to be acceptable to a holy God. Thankfully, the Psalms are full of prayers that pour out the hearts and spill the guts of the ones who pray. I so appreciate these models of heartfelt, raw prayers we’re given in Scripture.
If you’re looking for a way to grow in your prayer life, I invite you to our upcoming prayer retreat: “Moment to Moment: An Invitation to Prayer” (March 23-24). You can find more details in the March 2018 newsletter, and more will be coming your way in the weeks ahead. Ted Nordland, visitation pastor at First Covenant Church in St. Paul, will be our facilitator for this interactive workshop-style retreat that is sponsored by the Covenant denomination. Please join us, if you can. I believe it will be a genuine blessing to all who participate.
It can be a little threatening, sometimes, to bring our full selves to any situation, and church is no different, especially when it sometimes feels that we need to answer every “How are you?” with “Fine, thanks!” Sometimes we’re on the other end and not exactly sure how to relate to someone who’s being more honest and real than we bargained for. As we continue to grow in faith and service, and into increasing maturity as disciples, let’s also ask God to grow us into mature people who are increasingly equipped to relate well to ourselves, to those around us, and to the God who loves us more deeply than we could ever imagine.