The road to growth less travelled
- spiritual paths in a missionary church -
Adapting the title of Scott Peck's classic book,
The Road less Travelled this booklet explores a neglected understanding of Christian growth that is
more than numbers, methods or techniques.
These are very difficult times in which to live at any depth ..... When so much needs to happen outwardly and visibly there is real pressure to neglect the hard, steady work of putting down deep roots for our living and praying. There are no easy answers to this. But it is an urgent priority.
Scott Peck took the title of his classic book The Road Less Travelled from a poem by Robert Frost. Frost was walking in woods and found the path dividing. The poem ponders the choice he faced and the dilemma of how to make it.
Writing from his experience as a psychotherapist Peck observed that significant moments of human growing and transformation often come with the facing of choices or directions previously avoided or simply not considered. They are 'less travelled' (and therefore less certain). But as with Frost, these less-travelled ways prove to make 'all the difference'. Christians will not be surprised at this insight. In one of his less comfortable teachings Jesus describes his way of life as less travelled. It is the narrow way, he insists, and those who find it are few (Matt 7.13-14).
“Growth” an only be understood in the context of our whole life story.
Nearly thirty years after it first appeared, Vincent Donovan's classic book Christianity Rediscovered - an Epistle from the Masai is being quoted again in mission discussions. Rightly so. But note the title. It refers to the rediscovery of his own faith. What that undertaking demanded of him is often missed. He alludes to it briefly but says enough to lay bare its costliness. This was 'an adventure, a journey of the mind and of the soul, a disconcerting, disturbing, shattering, humbling journey' . He speaks of the pain of faith 'shattered', the 'agony of belief and unbelief' and how, when his faith had gone, 'I ached in every fibre of my being'.
There is a warning here not to underestimate what the journey of transformation to a truly missionary church may ask of us too. We must never underestimate the depths involved.
and on the experience of waiting in compulsive impatience of our culture ....
Waiting tests our loves and longings. Waiting deepens desire. It separates our passing enthusiasms from our true longings. It reveals to us both our shallowness and our depths.
A tough and perceptive spiritual advisor once said to a leadership team, 'You won't really get anywhere until you face what you are afraid of'. Waiting is the place we meet our fears. With no activity to hide behind we meet ourselves undefended. That is one reason we find stillness so hard for any length of time.
As we search for ways to 'make all the difference', my conviction is that the sheer height, depth, width and glorious mystery of what the gospel calls 'growth' still calls to us. And the secret of our thriving will be found there - and only there.