How Do People Grow Spiritually?

Spiritual growth interests me, not only because I want to grow spiritually, but because I oversee adult ministries in which our goal is to help people grow into spiritual maturity.

The book How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, is an excellent look at what does cause people to grow. Here’s a visual summary of some of the key takeaways I had from reading the book (in some places paraphrased). (There’s a ton more — I recommend reading the book if you’re interested!)


The Ultimate Goal

If you don’t know the goal of where you’re going, you’re never going to get there. Simply put, the goal of spiritual growth is to become more like Christ.


Foundational Principles of Growth

To grow, there are principles that people need to understand. Here are four keys:


God is the one we look to. Our role is to depend on him. (Much more easily said than done, I find!)


Our journey is not meant to be walked alone. He meant for us to be in relationships with other people. To grow spiritually, we must connect with not only God but also people.


God is the Lord of our lives. “Lord” is not a word we use much in everyday life. The word “boss” conveys the role that God is to play in our life… our role is to submit to him. This means surrender and yielding of all of our life and giving up our tendency to want to be in control and make our own decisions independent of God.


Our relationship with God is an interplay of different types of roles. In these roles, God is the one who guides the steering wheel of our life.


However, there are barriers that get in the way of our growth.


If we have an incorrect view of God, we cannot truly know him.

Or if we think we don’t need grace, we live lifestyles that end up dealing with consequences of immature living, or needing confrontation.

Growth Plan


Spiritual growth must have an intentional plan. There are three elements that work together to create spiritual growth.


We don’t have much control over time, but it is good to understand that growth doesn’t happen immediately. It takes time for experiences, understanding and ultimately maturity.

How do these elements get lived out?

  • Connection
  • Discipline
  • Structure
  • Accountability
  • Grace/Forgiveness
  • Support


It is helpful to have a way to measure spiritual growth too. How do you know if you’re growing spiritually?


A measuring tool is gauging a person’s connection to Christ.

  • Indwelling — how much is Christ being lived out in this person’s life? Is there evidence of Christ’s presence?
  • Awareness — how much awareness does the person have of Christ working in their life?


There are specific action items we can take towards the road of spiritual maturity. Here are some that apply to every person:


Lots of good stuff to think about… not only on a church-wide level but on a personal level too.

Angela Yee

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