I asked a man why he had lost his job. He responded that the company had put him on "maturity leave." In other words, he needed to grow up. Some people are concerned that no one in America is growing up. John Leo wrote an article entitled "Where Did All of the Grownups Go?" Noel Coward wrote a song called What's Going to Happen to the Children When There Aren't Any Grownups? There is also a book entitled The Sibling Society by Robert Bly. It makes the case that we have become a sibling society — just kid-to-kid — and no one is growing up.
You ladies can probably relate to the woman who asked, "Do you have anything suitable for a twelve-year-old? It's my husband's birthday." Some would say that the difference between a man and a savings bond is that a savings bond eventually matures. It seems our society is not growing up. We are doing a lot of childish things — even in church. Is there a real difference in the attitudes displayed in Children's Church and "Big" Church? I hear a lot of "me" and "mine," whether it's talking about toys or songs. Of course, it has always been this way. Remember that Jonah didn't want to preach to a certain group of people. He wanted it his own way. So in very kid-like fashion, he pouted under a gourd vine. Are any of your members doing that?
It is a whale of a story — and a great illustration of the point that the difference between kid-like behavior and grown-up behavior is how a person acts when he doesn't get his own way.
When I was a baby I couldn't feed myself. It was probably frustrating for my parents, and I cried a lot. Then the time came when I could feed myself. There were some messes, but it was okay, and it gradually got better. Then I grew up, I got married and had babies, and I had to feed them. That is what adults do. We feed ourselves so we can feed others. Parents feed, but kids just get fed or only feed themselves.
People are saying that we have an obesity problem in this country. Why is that? There are too many people who are feeding themselves but are too inactive. I believe we have a spiritual obesity problem in the church. There are too many people who are feeding themselves but who are too inactive. We have focused so much on the "knowing" that we've forgotten about the "growing." The Bible says, The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. Essentially, we have taken that flesh and made it mere words.
We may know where Thyatira is, but we don't know who our neighbors are. Growing up requires learning how to turn information into application.
I was the children's church pastor for five years. That is where I learned to communicate on a fourth-grade level so that college professors could understand me. I remember hearing of kids playing a game in which they line up and then race toward a red flag. The first one to grab the flag and say the Bible verse of the day would win the prize. Two kids arrived at the flag at the same time, and neither would let go. It became a huge wrestling match to take the red flag. Finally, the teacher was able to gain control and decided that both should get the prize if they would say the verse together. So, still holding on to an end of the red flag, they repeated the verse: Be ye kind one to another. We laugh at this because they're kids. Yet we all know what would happen if we tried to take a red flag away from some church members.
Grown-up church members understand that the prize comes later. I was in a city in which a man confronted me. He opened up his coat and the inside was lined with Rolex watches. He asked me if I wanted one. They looked really good, and I asked, "How much?" He replied, "Fifty dollars for one or two for seventy-five." I asked him how he could sell a Rolex so cheaply. He said, "Mister, they are genuine imitations." Now a kid would fall for that, but a grown-up wouldn't. Let's all grow up and make sure our churches don't become genuine imitations.
Charles Lowery is a member of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, Louisiana, founder and president of LIFE, Inc., and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 903-881-9422 or www.charleslowery.com.