The Rev. Robert Leiste, pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2700 Lawrence Ave.:
I’m not sure I could tell you what it is, but I do know it when I have seen it. I’ve seen it in people who stopped gathering with other believers in a regular way even though they go to church. They just aren’t part of the group, don’t join in and stagnate.
I’ve seen stagnation in people who simply have stopped trying to learn. They either think they know it all or just do not want to take the time to learn any more. It happens because people always expect the mountain top experience and fail to appreciate the simple day-to-day growth, which eventually accumulates higher than any single event since the day-by-day learning never stops.
It happens when people think that there are more important things to do than being involved with God or his church. It seems to many that having their child involved in a sport on a Sunday is more important even though it will only last until they are a teen or graduate high school, while learning to be with God lasts this lifetime into eternity.
Sometimes it happens when people faced a problem and just gave up because they felt overwhelmed. But always they stop.
Most importantly, we need to remember that God, through his Holy Spirit, is working to keep us alive and growing. Through the time spent in his word as he teaches us, we grow. Through following him to those moments with other believers where we share together, we grow and mature as we learn the faith is not just about us but others as well. As God leads us to practice the art of loving others through the works of our hands, we grow. The important point is not to know what stagnation is, as much as it is how to avoid it.
— Send email to Robert Leiste at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Barclay, lead pastor, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:
In the Christian faith there are two kinds of dying. One kind leads to death. The other kind of dying leads to life.
The dying that leads to life is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote, “… if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Dying to sin brings life!
Jesus styled the death that leads to life when he spoke of his own death and the spiritual community that would grow from his resurrection. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and ‘dies’ it will remain a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds,” (John 12:21).
Spiritual stagnation is the kind of the dying that leads to death. The prophet Zephaniah spoke of the spiritually complacent who are like wine left on its dregs, indifferent to God and unmoved by the suffering around them (Zephaniah 1:12). Purposeful rest and recovery lead to renewed spiritual vitality, but spiritual stagnation happens when a person is lazy, indifferent and purposeless. Zephaniah went on to say the spiritually stagnant are those who don’t care because they think God doesn’t care.
Water stagnates when it pools and stops moving. People stagnate when they isolate themselves from God and stop responding to the needs of others.
Spiritual stagnation is the result of spiritual self-absorption. It comes from no longer being moved by another’s suffering. A selfish person is smothering him or herself. Inaction suffocates. That is when spiritual decay and degeneration set in.
I had a profound, life-redirecting experience with Jesus Christ when I was in college. I am grateful that some great guys came alongside me and taught me never to “pool” but to keep flowing closer to the God whose image mankind bears.
— Send email to Jeff Barclay at email@example.com.