Continued from previous posts: In many churches this stage is the pinnacle of the Christian life. In fact, popular books like "The Purpose Driven Life" make it sound like this stage is the goal of the Christian life. Unfamiliar with the history of Christian spirituality and growth, popular movements mistakenly bring Christians to stage three and leave them there. But there are four more stages, and unless disciples are aware of them, what can be a new awakening to faith becomes a debilitating crisis.

The next stage, stage four in Christian growth, is what I call "The Second Awakening." It is a stage of profound growth, but is often misunderstood. Those who've served long and faithfully come to the point where they ask, "Isn't there something more?" And if they don't know that this new search is a sign of the Holy Spirit's nudging them to a deepening of their faith experience, they may grow frustrated with their faith and drop out of church; sometimes they abandon their faith entirely. But this is just the beginning of a holy new movement of grace in their lives.

To be continued . . .