Where and how do we look to grow? On the mountain or in the valley?
Peterson continues his assessment of the church:
We cannot overemphasize bringing men and women to new birth in Christ. Evangelism is essential, critically essential. But is it not obvious that growth in Christ is equally essential? Yet the American church has not treated it with an equivalent urgency. The American church runs on the euphoria and adrenaline of new birth—getting people into the church, into the kingdom, into causes, into crusades, into programs. We turn matters of growing up over to Sunday School teachers, specialists in Christian education, committees to revise curriculum, retreat centers, and deeper life conferences, farming it our to parachurch groups for remedial assistance. I don’t find pastors and professors, for the most part, very interested in matters of formation in holiness. They have higher profile things to tend to. (p. 5, Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection)
Is Peterson on target with his evaluation? Which statement hits closest to home? As a Lutheran, how would you look at the same situation? How does this fit with our expanded understanding of catechesis (not just catechism class)?
Do we use retreats and conferences as the sum total of our growth? Do we need the excitement fix that such venues provide? In other words, do we live for the “mountaintop experiences” and then drudge our way through life in between, as if it gets in the way of “real growth”? Do we feel superior because we have gone to a retreat or conference? Do we hold that up as a sign of growing to maturity?
Could it be that our real growth is in the valley when not everything is “super spiritual”? How does this relate to Luther’s three-fold understanding of the maturing of a theologian (read: any Christian): Oratio (prayer), Meditatio (Scripture reading), Tentatio (trials/tribulation)?