How People Grow

What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth
Dr. Henry Cloud / Dr. John Townsend

All growth is spiritual growth. Authors Drs. Cloud and Townsend unlock age-old keys to growth from Scripture to help people resolve issues of relationships, maturity, emotional problems, and overall spiritual growth. They shatter popular misconceptions about how God operates and show that growth is not about self-actualization, but about God’s sanctification.

In this theological foundation to their best-selling book Boundaries, they discuss:

  • What the essential processes are that make people grow

  • How those processes fit into a biblical understanding of spiritual growth and theology

  • How spiritual growth and real-life issues are one and the same

  • What the responsibilities are of pastors, counselors, and others who assist people in growing

  • What your own responsibilities are in your personal growth


Cloud and Townsend, clinical psychologists who are the Gold Medallion Award-winning authors of Boundaries, attempt in this book to chart personal growth from a biblical perspective. Rather than suggesting that real growth happens only to Christians, they argue that most effective therapeutic methods, even those that are ostensibly secular, use biblical concepts. As such, they look to Scripture for the very best strategies for spiritual and emotional growth. While they are critical of a one-size-fits-all approach to human suffering, they do prescribe a combination of prayer, Bible study and regular contact with a 'growth group' for virtually every problem they address. The growth groups they describe are populated by healthy, vulnerable people who are willing to confront each other lovingly and own up to mistakes and failures. Cloud and Townsend argue persuasively that such groups facilitate dramatic changes in individuals' lives, but leave the logistical problem of finding such evolved folks to the reader.

Perhaps the most radical message of the book is that failure is the norm, even for the most devout. Not only do the authors repeatedly give examples of the best Christians committing the worst sins, but they also insist that such wrongdoing never warrants condemnation from God or other believers. Instead, they argue, sinners must experience total acceptance and love before true repentance and change can occur. This solid, Bible-based argument against guilt and for grace is a powerful elixir for evangelicals who all too often hear the opposite message.


" ... the best guide for spiritual growth I have ever read"
All serious Christians should be about the business of healing and growing personally and spiritually. This book is the best guide for spiritual growth I have ever read. The authors do a superb job of showing that the Bible is the manual for spiritual growth, and that being involved in relationship with other Christians who are serious in their pursuit of personal growth is the primary means toward achieving that growth. I appreciated the authors' honesty in describing their own growth issues and struggles in spiritual maturity -- admitting that we all screw up as we mature and that it is a life-long process rather than a course of study from which you 'graduate' at some point was very encouraging for me. The book is not only helpful for individuals who are pursuing their own growth, but it may actually be more useful for those who are leading or facilitating a growth/accountability group through their local church.

" ... truly helpful ... practical suggestions for church leaders" 
I found this book to be truly helpful. I'm preparing to lead a Bible study, and I'm incorporating many of their suggestions into the study. They suggest that while many people try to find recovery apart from relationships, true healing occurs only when we reach out to other members of the body of Christ. No one is an island. Many of their principles are based on the book of Ephesians. Includes practical suggestions for church leaders.


How People Grow    


  1. Harder Than I Thought

  2. Seeing the Big Picture

  3. How the Big Picture Affects the Small


  1. The God of Grace

  2. Jesus: Our Example for Living

  3. The Holy Spirit    


  1. God’s Plan A: People

  2. Open Space: The Power of Acceptance

  3. Getting to the Warmth of Forgiveness


  1. The Gardener’s Handbook: The Bible

  2. No Pain, No Gain: The Role of Suffering and Grief

  3. Growing Tasty Fruit: Becoming a Righteous Person

  4. The Value of Pruning: Discipline

  5. Water from a Deeper Well: Spiritual Poverty

  6. Following the Gardener: Obedience

  7. Pulling the Weeds: The Problem of Sin and Temptation

  8. Facing Reality: How Truth Deepens Growth

  9. Putting on the Gloves: The Importance of Activity

  10. Waiting for Harvest: Time

Conclusions: Growth for Life