Encouraging spiritual growth is only done by the gospel.

Allow a few words from a sermon preached in 1936. Notice how they still apply in 2011.
Friedrich Pfotenhauer – “First, we must guard against trying to elevate spiritual life with means that cannot accomplish what we seek. An attempt has been made to elevate spirtual life in the home congregation by rousing the Church to missions and directing her sight to the misery of the churchless and especially the poor non-Christians. to be sure, the work of mission is a glorious and invaluable thing. But to speak and act as though it were through participation in the work of mission that the Word of God must be made living and powerful is simply wrong. To forsake at home the confession of the external Word and the heavenly doctrine while rambling afar in the opinion that the Church must be saved and enlivened with mission is enthusiasm. Another confusion was that of the Pietists. In order to elevate spiritual life, they taught that spirit and life flowed out of our personal life of sanctification. The more holy a person, the more spirit. But we can’t produce spiritual life. We live from that which God gives. When spirit and life are made dependent upon our work, from this false doctrine all of God’s Word and action are devoured and nullified. It is a wretched experience that the pietistic compulsion to works and to a method of sanctification devalued God’s Word, pure doctrine, truth, and the Gospel, and opened door after door to indifference to doctrine. Others would heal Joseph’s wounds with tighter church governance. They say, if our presidents, visitors, and commissions had more authority, if they could prescribe things to congregations and the congregations had to obey, then life would be brought to these dead bones. Without question, if such a yoke were laid upon the necks of the children, many external works would be produced. Indeed, it wouldn’t even be that difficult to get the money to begin flowing. But that would in no way elevate spiritual life. In fact, it would suffer a terrible retrogression. The Gospel tolerates no hierarchy. Where hierarchical thoughts hold sway, we recognize the papcy, in which the hierarchical idea has been followed to its logical conclusion. So far as the papacy has come to fruition, it has killed in its midst all spiritual life and changed Christianity into a religion of works and blind obedience to church leaders, the Pope in Rome, the Antichrist. Indeed, today everyone thinks he can help the Church somehow! Music, liturgics, all sorts of things are proposed as medicine for young and old.” An excerpt from the book, “At Home in the House of My Fathers.

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