Christian churches should be like the nursery in a hospital's maternity ward--places where infants can grow and develop healthily. Newly converted "babes in Christ" need the right environment in order to mature. Infants can't survive if the conditions aren't right, and the same holds true for the newest members of the family of God. They need help, to be nurtured, and a church with an environment that enables them to grow.
What Constitutes a Healthy Environment?
What should our churches look like so people can grow towards the Lord and away from their old life? Some realities must be present in order for this to happen.
Gospel proclamation. The good news of how a good God saves bad people. How He covers their shame, removes their guilt, and clothes nakedness with His Son's perfection. A follower of Jesus must hear this good news constantly. The more they hear it and see it lived out, the deeper its' truths will sink into their souls. Stinging and lying accusations from the enemy will abound and only the gospel can render them powerless. See, the gospel just isn't the "door" into the Kingdom. It's the door, the hallway, the rooms, and actually, the whole house. Believers are to live their lives inside the safety, encouragement, and motivation that gospel truths provide. But unlike a home, the gospel is not something we leave then come back to. We carry it with us everyday and everywhere. It defines us and shapes our lives--every part of them. An immature Christian or new believer must have a steady diet of gospel to grow and mature in their faith. They must see believers, who have followed Christ for decades, still excited about the good news and focusing on it in their lives and pursuit of God.
A safe place. Not safe in the sense that they never feel challenged to repent of sin, but safe as in their church welcomes people to be seen repenting of sin. There should be no embarrassment, accusations, oppression, manipulation, or condescension. Our churches should be places where sinners can confess and release the burden of their sin. Where mature Christians walk along weak ones--encouraging them, showing sympathy, and providing a picture of what humbly repenting looks like. Those who walk through a church's doors should not have to fear anything as they pursue God.
Patience. People need time--and a lot of it--to grow and mature. We should never put pressure on people to grow at the same rate we did. There are no deadlines on Christian maturity. And if there are, the Holy Spirit can let a person know that--we don't need to. People need lots of space and time to rethink their lives and move away from sin. Chances are, their former life was very complicated. It's okay to convey a sense of urgency about growing spiritually, but it's not something we can hurry through. No one changes quickly. Our churches must be prepared to walk with people long-term through repeated sins, struggles, and worries. Think about it. Isn't that what the Lord did for you?