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Rick-Warren-Book-smallEditor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren and his staff in conjunction with his new book, What on Earth Am I Here For? Warren is the guest editor for Charisma’s Ministry Today magazine for its January/February issue.

“So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God's presence as a mature person in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28 NCV)

I believe there are five measurements of spiritual growth: knowledge, perspective, conviction, skills, and character.

The first measurement is knowledge of God’s Word. To begin building a spiritual growth curriculum, you need to ask two questions: What do people already know? And, what do they need to know?

A church that has grown primarily by biological growth (conversion of members’ children) or transfer growth may have many members that already have a working knowledge of the Bible. But in a church designed to reach the unchurched, it’s a different ballgame. You cannot assume your new members know anything about the Bible. You must start from ground zero.

We recently baptized 63 new believers, including a former Buddhist, a former Mormon, a man with a Jewish background, and a former Catholic nun! When you add in ex-New Agers and plain old pagans, you have quite a mixture to deal with. Biblical illiteracy is almost universal among unbelievers. They do not even recognize the most well-known stories or personalities of the Bible.

Tom Holladay, who for years led our Maturity team, told me of his conversation with a brand-new believer who was struggling with trials in his life. Tom took him to James 1 and explained the purpose of trials. The man seemed satisfied.

But, as he started to leave Tom’s office, he said “I thought maybe my trials were a result of some sins from a previous life.” Tom realized the man needed more than an explanation of trials! He needed to understand the biblical view of life.

At the knowledge level, your church needs to regularly offer continuous new believer Bible studies and surveys of the Old Testament and New Testament.

While every Bible book is important, at Saddleback Church we want our members to study five “core” books before they branch out into other studies. These books are Genesis, John, Romans, Ephesians, and James.

Talk About It

  • How does the development of Bible knowledge in your church compare to the practices of learning a language or studying a college course?
  • How can you help new members and new believers in your church grow their biblical knowledge?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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