Can we break the cycle? It's the cycle of becoming a church member somewhere and never getting off of the religious merry-go-round where we keep seeing the same landscape on every revolution. It is the life that never grows spiritually. It is the life that looks for fulfillment and finds it in getting involved in doing good deeds, very seldom ever taking a spiritual risk, and never questions why they are only religious.
Let's go back to the stereotypical 24 year old college graduate who is in their first job after finishing college. Maybe they too were won to Christ during their latter teen years, or while in college. Their minds have been shaped by the world, their expectations set by worldly standards, and goals for life set by a world that can only identify success by what it sees in the world.
There are a number of professions that have a real advantage over most other vocations. Take for example the medical professional. They are not expected to have their lives together until they are 30+. Why? It takes eight years of education, not counting internships and residencies, much less specialties. Why don't we level the playing field and let all grads know that they don't all have to have it together the summer after they graduate. Why can't they use their mid and late 20's to find themselves in the profession that they have chosen?
There is a spiritual correlation to the above "vocational lane". We are going to call that 24 year old "Jed". Jed has become a new believer. He doesn't know what is expected of him. It is a lot like his profession--he is starting at the bottom--it is a whole new world. Where does he go from here? Sometimes he feels like one person in a sea of people in downtown Houston at noon. Many of them are going in one direction, so he decides to join them and begins walking with them. They are headed to the underground tunnels and he doesn't know what's there, or where the tunnels will take him.
Spiritually speaking, why can't Jed be discipled over the next five years and have an opportunity to grow and mature in his faith. It would teach him about abundant Christian living and he would be able to experience it through the life of someone who is ahead of him, but walked the same surface. Why don't we provide that? You say, "Some churches do provide discipleship." Sure they do, but not near enough. It is almost like we are afraid to raise the bar of expectation because we might run them off and then they will go somewhere else.
If we truly discipled Jed, say from 24-29 years of age, he could probably look after his own road map for growing from that point on. During that period he would probably find a wife and they might even have a couple of children, but he would be growing during that period. He would be ready to be a good husband and father. He would be learning how to be a leader and would probably find his niche in the church as well. If he continued to grow, his years after age 30 would probably be the most productive of his life.
In too many cases, Jed becomes a Sunday morning attender and never grows beyond his "baby formula" spiritual existence. Jed may become a success in the world, because that is how he has been groomed by the world. He never becomes a spiritual leader in his home, while his wife is looking for some kind of leadership. He thinks being a great provider is what life is all about, while his children beg for attention. Life may fill with some cracks and yet Jed does not know where to turn. People don't know Jed, so his life rolls on almost unnoticed. It is a critical stage for him and for his family. If he survives this period of his life, there will probably be similar "emergencies". How many can he survive?
If Jed keeps being revived time after time, he goes into his 40's, then 50's, then 60's and life has not changed. Now Jed becomes an usher in the church and he's a good usher, but that is the apex of his spiritual life. There has to be more than that! We must do more!