News Articles

10/1/97 BSSB seeking more effective ways in developing Christian maturity

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Jesus was a patient teacher. He was skillful at guiding his apostles from spiritually immature and somewhat self-centered men toward Christlike transformation.
And now leaders at the Baptist Sunday School Board are seeking a new understanding of what it means for Christians to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, said Roy Edgemon, director of the BSSB discipleship and family development division.
“We are examining how Jesus brought Peter and the others from immature, struggling and fearful followers to models who Christians can look to for guidance toward spiritual transformation,” Edgemon said in explaining the origin of the BSSB’s driving force for designing a model to help explain “transformational discipleship.”
“In Romans 12:1-2, the Bible says, ‘Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,'” he said. “We have decided to put our energy into finding out biblically not only how to describe spiritual transformation that results in a Christlike life and maturity, but also how to explain the biblical process of that transformation.
“What does it take for people today to have a transformation in their lives?” Edgemon asked. He acknowledged the Sunday School Board has produced many resources that have helped Christians grow toward a more fulfilling life with Christ, but the struggle remains with what it takes to transform a person into a “biblical Christian.”
“We want to be able to give clear and simple help for any Christian who wants to know what it means to be transformed into the likeness of Christ,” he stated.
Edgemon noted American culture has defined what it wants Christianity to look like. However, he said, “That look is foreign to the biblical look of Christianity.
“We know what the cultural Christian is. Those are the people who do all the right Christian things. They know what they have to and ought to do, but they get no joy out of a personal relationship with Christ. We know that even non-Christians may conform to Christian activities and ways of doing things without being inwardly transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“We are searching for a way to show clearly and simply how to be a biblical Christian by being transformed by the Holy Spirit.”
Edgemon said the Sunday School Board wants to offer Christians guidance and resources to help them become obedient followers in Christ so they can, in turn, show others how to follow him.
“We’ve been doing that some. We’ve provided many resources that have helped thousands of people in their personal spiritual transformation. Who could ever say that ‘Experiencing God’ and ‘The Mind of Christ’ and ‘Life in the Spirit’ haven’t been used to change lives? They have.
“But we are looking to find the elements that can help churches become even more effective in guiding new, and more mature Christians, to be transformed inwardly as they grow to be everything God wants them to be.
“It’s not just courses we are trying to give Christians. Really, we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for, except we desire to find out how we can help a person have their heart, mind and life spiritually transformed just as the Bible teaches it should happen.”
Edgemon said he is confident he and a group of leaders at the Sunday School Board will discover the missing element of discipleship they are looking for, but he expects it to take some time — two years, at the very least.
“I know we’re going to do it, but it’s going to take a while,” he said.
Currently Edgemon said he and others are seeking out writers and theologians who have “pieces, but possibly not the whole” of what they are looking for such as Henry Blackaby (“Experiencing God”), Robertson McQuilkin (“Life in the Spirit”) and T.W. Hunt (“The Mind of Christ”).
“We are trying to find out how people can be in the perfect will of God and become that person God wants them to be,” Edgemon said. “We want to provide the best possible help for churches that want to facilitate personal spiritual transformation for Christians wanting to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.
“That’s what we are trying to find when we talk about transformational discipleship.”

    About the Author

  • Terri Lackey