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Written by Louis Roth
Last time we introduced the concept of S.O.A.P. I highly recommend Cordeiro’s whole book, but I give the reference to the specific chapter on S.O.A.P. below. I will show the power of a vibrant Bible reading program coupled with prayer. I hope pastors that read this take note.
In 2004, Willowcreek church surveyed their congregation to make sure they were growing spiritually. The authors were tasked to measure spiritual maturity. Much to their surprise, the results were a complete surprise. You see, participating in church activities is not enough to grow spiritual awareness. They are not an indicator that people are growing at all. Understand that nobody is suggesting that we stop getting congregation members from volunteering. The results of the survey are as follows:
“Increased participation in church activities by themselves barely moved our people to love God and others more.”
“We had a lot of dissatisfied people.”
“We had a lot of people so dissatisfied that they were ready to leave.”
Wondering what this has to do with prayer? Nothing replaces a relationship with the Lord! Serving in your congregation should be the reason you serve, not a replacement for time in prayer. Willowcreek thought church activity was the same as spiritual growth.
They wanted to see how other churches compared. The book documents the results from all churches. There was one church that measured higher than the rest — none other than Wayne Cordeiro’s church in Hawaii which first published the idea of S.O.A.P. (as far as we know).
Let us look at one Bible “hero” and see what happens when he turned from God and started relying upon human wisdom, including other religions. We pick up the account in the book of 1 Kings 3. Solomon planted his seed for failure by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter for the sake of an alliance (1 Kings 3:1). She and all Solomon’s processions would cause him to stray 20 years later. Solomon begins his reign by petitioning the Lord (1 Kings 3:4–15). Notice that Solomon starts by thanking the Lord for all He has done for his father. Solomon follows with a request. He knows that he does not have the wisdom to be the king of Israel. Discerning between good and evil comes from the Lord. God is pleased and gives Solomon a wise and discerning heart.
Solomon finishes all the building projects, including the Temple in Jerusalem. What follows is a dedication ceremony with a long prayer that is worth examining because of the elements included (1 Kings 8:10–53). The Lord then places the conditions that Israel would receive blessings (1 Kings 8:54–61; 9:1–9). It’s when Solomon stopped focusing on the Lord and his processions and hundreds wives took center stage. By chapter 11, Solomon has wholly turned from the Lord and is carnal (1 Kings 10:14–11:13)
The survey found that some of the following results: -
”Nothing has a greater impact on spiritual growth than reflection on Scripture. If churches could do one thing to help people at all levels of spiritual maturity grow in their relationship with Christ, their choice is clear. They would inspire, encourage, and equip their people to read the Bible — specifically, to reflect on Scripture for meaning in their lives. The numbers say most churches are missing the mark — because one out of five congregants reflects on Scripture every day.” -
“Leadership matters. The leaders of the more highly successful churches who participated in the REVEAL survey have diverse personalities and styles — from quiet and reserved to self-assured and commanding. But they share one key attribute: an unrelenting, uncompromising focus and drive to help grow people into disciples of Christ.”
1. Cordeiro, W. (2007). The Divine Mentor: Growing Your Faith as You Sit at the Feet of the Savior (p. 101–112). Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.
2. Hawkins, Greg L. Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth (p. 16–17, 18). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
3. IBID; p. 17–18.
4. IBID; p. 18–20.