Discipling Young Believers

06 Oct

One of the greatest privileges in the world is to be used by God to help lead someone into a life-changing relationship with Jesus.  Secondly, is to walk with that person as they begin their new walk with Christ.  Everything is new, everything is adventure.  Every day brings new challenges and discoveries, successes and failures.  Like any dynamic relationships, there are ups and downs, good days and bad.  This is all part of what it means to follow Jesus.

I have had the privilege of helping leads 100’s of people into a relationship with Christ. It never gets old and I never lose a sense of wonder or grace at the process of new birth.  Many times, I am not the one who gets to walk with these new young immature believers through their first weeks, months and years as a Christ follower — but sometimes I am.  And it is awesome.

One of the things you learn in this process is the importance of starting with milk before adding solid food — spiritually speaking.  When one first becomes a follower of Jesus – whether they are 14, 40 or 40+40, you have to start with spiritual milk.  You don’t dump a lot of theology on them and it isn’t about a whole bunch of new things to do and old things to stop doing.  Often it starts with, “OK… here is how you find a passage in the Bible… here is how you might want to pray… try this approach to a regular time to listen and talk to God.  Journal and reflect… what is working, what is hard, what questions do you have?  Where might Jesus be prompting you to change or listen more? etc etc.”

But as people grow in their faith and become more mature believers, there is a need for spiritual meat.

In my experience, the “milk stage” tends to be a black and white stage.  KISS.  Keep it simple silly.  Not too complicated or nuanced.  It is all about learning to tune our ears and hearts into heaven.  But when we get to “spiritual meat”, it is more complicated and often nuanced and, in reality, many shades of gray.  Which is okay, because hopefully by that time we have learned to listen and discern the Spirit, so we aren’t facing these issues alone.  We can ask God for guidance, get guidance from our community of faith, etc.

in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is writing to young and immature believers in a tough place to follow Jesus.  They need milk, not meat. They need clarity and simple instruction, not deep theological, pastoral and ethical reflection.  KISS.  And that is what Paul delivers.

It would be interesting to see how Paul might write this differently to a different community? One with more mature believers? Again, this is the context in which we need to read and understand the Corinthian letters.

It is good for us to read and learn and reflect upon what Paul addresses and how he addresses it.  Sometimes I benefit greatly from going back to the basics of the faith.  It is refreshing and challenging.  And always worth remembering that the gospel that saves is the same gospel that sancticfies. The good news does not change.

But we can’t stay nourished and growing just on spiritual milk. To grow, we will need spiritual meat.  The more complicated and difficult and nuanced stuff of ethics and pastoral care and deeper theology.  

That is part of why I love chewing on God’s word.  It is like a feast of both milk and meat.


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Posted by on October 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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