Posts Tagged ‘Church Life’

Mar
22
2014

How to Pastor Single Adults

Lisa Anderson is the editor of Boundless, one of the finest resources for young adults in the evangelical world. She’s also host of the Boundless Podcast, where she interviews leading thinkers on issues of singleness, sexuality, marriage, and culture. I had the chance to interview Lisa this week for Leadership Journal. I asked her questions on singleness, sexuality, and ministry. This is one of the questions:

Some pastors and church leaders face a tension between encouraging marriage and yet not diminishing the gift–and even calling–of singleness. How would you advise them?Pastors need to invite singles into the life and leadership of the church, treating them not as “kids” but as functioning adults with vital spiritual, emotional, and physical assets for the congregation.

There’s a delicate balance between encouraging single young adults in their current life stage and experience while still elevating marriage and acknowledging that marriage is in most people’s future. Over 90 percent of single young adults want to get married, but pastors understandably don’t want to make singles feel like second-class citizens, so instead they say very little about marriage to singles. An awkward silence ensues, leaving singles feeling unheard and misunderstood. Pastors need to invite singles into the life and leadership of the church, treating them not as “kids” but as functioning adults with vital spiritual, emotional, and physical assets for the congregation. They then would do well to hear singles out. For women, this means hearing their hearts’ cry for marriage; for men, it may mean challenging them to consider marriage sooner rather than later. Either way, real relationships, accountability and a significant amount of grace is needed to open the conversation and remind everyone involved that singleness is a gift for a few, but a season for most. Let’s move people with biblical intention in the direction they need to go.

Read more here:

Jan
27
2014

Equipping Students with the Tools of Leadership

Last year Angela and I were enjoying some downtime in Orlando Florida. The hotel we were staying at was also hosting a student leadership conference hosted by Student Leadership University. We had the chance to speak to the organizers there and came away impressed by their vision for student discipleship. Last week I had the chance to interview the president and founder of SLU, Jay Strack, for my weekly Leadership Journal blog. Here’s a portion of that interview:

It seems we speak a lot to young people about following Christ, but don’t often flesh out what that looks like specific to them and their unique calling. Why do you feel this is an important part of their development?

At SLU we believe that 1 Corinthians 14:8 is spot on: “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” We attempt to put students in a very distinctive unique environment. Since we are clear that our goal is to help them experience a 20-year quantum leap in learning how to think, dream, and lead; we deliberately put them in a corporate hotel, with world-class speakers, and a lot of behind the scenes opportunities.

This could mean a leadership session at a shark tank, whale tank, or dolphin experience at SeaWorld, or a launch pad at Cape Kennedy, or the Pentagon, White House, or Congressional Briefing, or lessons on leadership on the beaches of Normandy, Churchill’s cabinet war rooms, or walking the wall of ancient Jerusalem, or a lesson on the floor of the Roman coliseum, or serving at Give Kids the World for terminally ill children, serving in an orphanage in Kenya, or ministering in the slums of the planet.

We call this EPIC opportunities—Experiential, Participatory, Image Rich, and Community Connecting. In this environment and background we want students to be able to experience a call on their life. Since this generation is more numerous, affluent, better educated, and more ethnically diverse than any other, students want an experience. They don’t want to talk about something or hear about something—they want to do something. When students begin to hear and understand God’s call with crystal-clear clarity they tend to be quite responsive. It is a very exciting moment when the light goes on and they understand that “if God is for me who can be against me.”

It is also our conviction that the Lord doesn’t call us to a position per say—he calls us to a personal relationship with him. We believe this call is not merely a game changer—it is a life changer. We then try to equip students with the rules and tools of leadership and a biblical world-view that will allow them to live out this calling in an ever-changing society.

Read the entire interview here: 

Jan
03
2014

Preaching as a Craft to Be Cultivated.

I love preaching. I love the act of preaching and I love listening to preaching. There is something wild and mysterious and beautiful about God’s Word flowing through a flawed man empowered by the Holy Spirit as a primary delivery method for spiritual change.

This week I had the chance to interview Matt Woodley, managing editor of PreachingToday.com, an excellent resource for pastors and church leaders. Our conversation was wide-ranging, really. I queried him on plagiarism, fact-checking pastors, etc. But my favorite part was reading Matt’s thoughts on the act of preaching itself. Here’s a question I asked him:

If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming pastor or church leader about preaching, what would you tell him?

Love preaching. It is a craft like mending shoes, fixing cars, throwing a curve ball, writing poetry, performing surgery, teaching British literature, and so on. You can grow as a preacher. So apply yourself to the craft. Learn from other preachers. Read good sermons (and reading is better than listening). Get feedback. And for Christ’s sake (and I mean that literally) stop being so defensive about your preaching! My gosh, it’s not like a sermon is your child or something. But when it comes to preaching, decide right now that you will be a lifelong learner of the craft.

But on other hand, don’t take your preaching too seriously. You aren’t primarily a preacher. You are a child of God. You are a member of the body of Christ. You are a friend, spouse, and parent. Your identity is not wrapped up in how well you preached last Sunday. So read and do lots of stuff that have absolutely nothing to do with your role as a preacher. Preachers who just preach are really boring. Be an interesting person, do interesting stuff, go to interesting places.

Read the entire interview here: 

Dec
04
2013

From Pulpit to Pew: On Joining a New Church

After five years in the pulpit and 30 years prior growing up in, working, and serving in my home church, I found myself in the oddly new position of looking for a place to worship. And so our quest for a new church began as soon as we moved from Chicago area to Nashville. After years of looking askance at those who “church shop”, I was in the buying mood. We felt it was important for us to find and get settled in a church as soon as we could, but we knew our search must be spirit-directed and guided by prayer. Our criteria was pretty simple:

  • It must be a church that preaches and teaches the Word of God (in a systematic, deep way.) We’re big on gospel-centered, expository preaching and teaching.
  • It must be proudly Southern Baptist.
  • It must be close to our house. In my pastoral experience, I’ve found greater distance from home to church usually prevents the type of community and closeness needed to become an essential part of a local body.

We also had some other criteria, but things that are not as much “deal-breakers” such as church culture, children’s ministry, welcoming atmosphere, friends who go there, etc. One thing we were determined not to do was choose a church based on flimsy things like the color of the carpet or the flavor of the coffee. We want to worship where God would have us worship, meaning we knew we wouldn’t find a church that exactly matches our preferences–and this is good because the point of worship is not me, but God.

So I created a spreadsheet of about 8 churches to visit, based on referrals from friends and web research and other criteria. Our plan was to visit all eight, then circle back and do second visits, just to get another look. But halfway through our search, something happened. We found a church we not only liked, but felt God calling us to join: First Baptist Church of Mt. Juliet. Angela and I went one after the first Sunday and said, “It’s okay if we just say we like this one and stay here, right?” And so we did.

There are a few reasons we feel compelled to worship at FBMJ. First, we just had a sense, after worshipping there, that this was the place for us. It was amazing, after talking with Pastor Andy Hale and his team, just how much we track with where God is taking this congregation: the desire to take the gospel to the community, to exalt Christ and seek His glory in all we do. Secondly, we really enjoy Pastor Andy’s preaching. By “enjoy” I don’t mean, “we found someone who politely affirms everything we believe so we leave feeling good.” By “enjoy,” I mean, we are fed by the rich, deep truths of Scripture every week. We’re challenged, convicted, and brought to repentance and confession weekly. Third, we have good friends who are involved at FBMJ. Jonathan and Beth Howe are longtime friends. Beth is the new director of children’s ministry at FBMJ. It’s helpful to have at least one family that you know very well attend church with you. Fourth, this church is close to our home, so we can be involved in activities and begin to build relationships with this body of believers.

Those are just a few of the reasons we like our new church home. There are many more. Mostly, though, we’re glad to join, get involved, to give and to take, to love and be loved, to nurture and be nurtured.

It’s a bit of a strange feeling sitting in a pew after being in the pulpit. I’ll admit there is a part of me that wants to get up and preach, but I know in this season of life God is wanting me to hear preaching rather than deliver preaching. And yet there is some relief in enjoying worship as a church member and not a church leader. Plus, I’m grateful to serve an organization at ERLC whose mission is to serve the Church.

 

What I’m most encouraged by is God’s work in every community, every corner of this world, building His church in big and small ways. There is much hand-wringing and debate about “the future of the Church”, but we have this sure promise from Jesus:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18 (ESV)

Oct
04
2013

Called to Stay

Today for Leadership Journal, I interview my friend, Caleb Breakey, a talented writer and speaker. Caleb has a heart for his fellow millennials. I love his tone, calling them to engage the Church rather than give up on it. This is the theme of his book, Called to Stay

In your book, Called to Stay, you voice some of the generational tensions that Millennials have voiced and yet you don’t counsel them to give up on the church, but to stay, why?

There’s a vibe circulating among Millennials that Jesus would turn over tables in most churches. I totally get that. Some churches are really unlovely. But you know what Jesus would do in those churches? He would speak the truth. He would say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15). He would love the unlovely people inside them the same way he loves sinners and tax collectors. He would commend the churches for what they’re doing right, then call them to overcome the things they’re doing wrong (Revelation 2-3). He would set a new tone of love, truth, and unity—regardless of what the congregation thought of him. We should too.

Read the rest of the interview here:

Aug
13
2013

5 Things I Learned in Canada Last Week

So last week my wife and I came back from a week of preaching and teaching and fellowship on Prince Edward Island in Atlantic Canada. I was honored to be one of the speakers at The Gospel Coalition, Atlantic Canada. We had an absolutely lovely time up there and I wanted to share with you about some of our experiences:

1) It’s an honor to be invited to share God’s Word with any audience. I hope this feeling never wears off, but every time I’m asked to preach somewhere, I feel a tremendous privilege. To hold in our hands the very precious words of the living God and to be used by the Spirit of God to teach His people is a gift of grace. For someone to trust me to handle the Word before their people is a job I try not to take lightly. All pastors and Christian speakers should realize that nobody owes them a platform or a pulpit or a speaking engagement. These are opportunities God graces us with as a generous Heavenly Father.

2) God’s creation never ceases to amaze. PEI is a beautiful slice of earth, with it’s beautiful stretches of farmland and rolling hills and forests. I was most captivated by the red sands and cliffs on the Atlantic shore. It’s no wonder that Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables and many other books, considered this, her homeland, a window into Heaven. Angela and I had a conversation with a PhD student from Chicago who was studying in PEI and he admitted to us that the stunning beauty makes him doubt that all of this could have simply happened. We, of course, told him of our faith in the Designer, the Triune God who spoke this beauty into existence. So, in the 21st Century, the Heavens are still declaring the glory of God, are they not?

3) The gospel has the power to unite people into a special family. It’s pretty remarkable, but after five days together with our hosts at the conference, the wonderful Grace Baptist Church of Charlottetown. Angela and I said often last week about how much we loved these good people and how much it seemed as if we’d known each other for a long time. We came to serve through preaching and teaching and conversations, but we came away far more refreshed than what we gave out. The music, the preaching from the other men, the conversations, the fellowship, the food, the hospitality–all revived and refreshed our souls. What a gift it is to be among God’s people united by grace.

4) Hospitality is a gospel-empowered gift to others. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a more generous, hospitable group of folks like the people at Grace Baptist. Steven Bray, Dan Thomson, Jeff Eastwood, Jim Newsome, and Jason Biech are a passionate team of elders leading this church to love the gospel more. And this love for the gospel was poured out in the way they cared for everyone who attended the conference. Jim and his wife, Betty housed us in their beautiful Bed and Breakfast. They drove us, fed us, and took care of every need with a spirit of grace and love.

5) Modesty is an underrated gift for a pastor. I saved this one for last, because it’s the best. By modestly I mean humility and grace. I had the chance to get to know two pastors, Mike Bulmore and Paul Martin. I had known of these men, but had never spent significant time with them. Mike is the Senior Pastor of Crossway Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin, just a few minutes across the “Cheddar Curtain” from where we live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Angela and I really got to know Mike on this trip. We flew out to PEI together (three flights, including a harrowing near-miss of a flight from Toronto to Charlottetown), we rode from our guest house to the conference together, we sat on panels together, we ate together. You really get to know a man when you spend that much time with him. Mike was as gracious and fun and willing to engage important discussions as any pastor I’ve met. He was genuinely interested in our lives and shared about some of his own experiences in ministry and family.

Paul Martin was much the same way. Paul is the Senior Pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. I had known Paul only for being “Tim Challies’ pastor.” But spending this much time with him, driving, speaking, eating, etc, I came away with a wonderful respect and genuine friendship. We laughed together, shared stories, and just enjoyed the camaraderie. Paul also shared one of the most moving messages on the dignity of human life that I have ever heard, drawing from his own experience as the father of a disabled son.

From both Paul and Mike I saw a wonderful example of faithful, biblical pastoral ministry. Both are modest, mature, kind, and wise. Neither exhibit an ego nor took themselves too seriously, though they take the ministry seriously. It’s no wonder that among pastoral qualities listed in many New Testament passages is the idea of sobriety, maturity, a sort of balance and grace. From Paul and Mike I saw that demonstrated in action. With such an emphasis on platform, celebrity, and visibility in the evangelical world, these two pastors were examples of modest, faithful, humble ministry.

Bottom Line: We had a great time of ministry and built lifelong friendships. To God be the glory.

Aug
07
2013

Healing Generational Divides

There is so much conversation lately about Millennials and the Church. Seems every blogger has addressed this subject from one angle or another. After reading the blogs and counter-blogs, it seems to me that the crux of the matter involves two things: a) a vast exaggeration of what generations think of each other, as if everyone born in a certain time period automatically approaches their faith the same way and b) the inability or unwillingness of various people groups, generations, to listen to each other well.

The former has been addressed at length already. But I’m not sure the latter problem–listening–is discussed enough. As a thirty-something, I’m right at the edge of Generation X and looking behind me at Millennials. I consider myself a Millennial in many respects, though I disagree with some of the characterization of this generation and even the overuse of the term.

What worries me the most about this conversation, as a pastor, is the sense of tribalism, this idea of “my generation is going to stick together and fight for our rights in church life” that goes against the ethos of body life in Christ. The Church should be multi-generational. Young listening to old, old listening to young, all followers of Christ working out their salvation in fear and trembling. So, at the risk of adding another tired voice to the pile of opinions on this subject, I offer five ways that generations (Millenials, Gen-X’ers, Boomers, Busters, and any other group not given a clever name) can listen and grow in Christ together:

1) Younger Leaders Should Find Several Older Leaders as Mentors

For youngish leaders like me, we should recognize our wisdom deficit. We have much to learn from wise, older leaders who have gone before us. I’m grateful to have in my life several older pastors who pour into me wisdom and knowledge and, at times, rebuke. I love to drink from the rich fountain of their experiences. Not only do I come away with workable ideas for my ow leadership, I recognize the value of the way a previous generation dealt with issues. I learn the stories.

The best way to set up a relationship like this is to simply ask. You’d be surprised how many seasoned pastors or lay leaders would love to sit down for coffee and chat. You don’t need a curriculum or a structure, just a couple hours of uninterrupted time together. The way I do it is simple. If there is someone I’d love to learn from, I call or email and say something like, “Hey, I’d love to go out for coffee or lunch or something and pick your brain on some things.” Easy. You don’t even have to say the word, “mentor.” I have found that the most valuable wisdom I’ve gleaned is through casual conversations, by me asking probing questions about a person’s life and ministry. What’s surprising is that you will find older and younger generations have a lot more in common than you think.

2) Younger leaders would benefit from some humility. This will go down hard for some millennials, but it needs to be said. We need to dial down the hubris a bit. Part of the reason older generations don’t listen is because we’ve come out swinging, making demands and acting as if we’re the first generation to finally “nail it” when it comes to Christian ministry. I’m saying that mostly as a criticism of my own self.

The truth is this: like our parents, we are sinners. And in twenty years, some other rising generation will come and offer as substantive of a critique of our methods as we do of our parents. What’s more, making demands puts people on the defensive, it shuts down conversation, it is antithetical to the kind of rich body life Christ envisions for His church.

I realize that this can be reversed, that at times older generations have led with a sort of top-down structure. Still, let’s not emulate what we don’t like by making the same demands of those who may not agree with us. As God puts us in greater positions of power and influence, let’s wear it well. Let’s be “clothed with humility” (Colossians 3:12). Let’s offer respect and dignity to the leaders who have gone before. Let’s offer the same forbearance of their (seemingly) out of date methods as we desire for our own blind spots. Sometimes I think the Church chases relevance and youth so quickly, we make older generations feel useless, as if all their hard work and effort are in vain. Instead, let’s respect the previous generation even as we seek to improve or update the ministry model.

3) Older Generations Should Realize How Much They Have to Give

Most long-time, experienced Christian leaders I’ve met are extremely gracious, open, and willing to mentor the next generation. But there are some who have not aged well and whose attitude toward the younger set is one of disdain. Part of this might simply be fueled by the feeling of being put out to pasture or it may just be the hard reality of being passed by as the “next big thing.” I don’t know, but if I could say something to every single gray-headed Christian leader, it would be this: we need you. Your wisdom, your insight, your faithfulness poured into us so that we might carry the baton of leadership in our generation.

Thankfully I’ve been exposed to some of the most gracious, humble, godly leaders who are eager to both listen to and advise the next generation. I’m friends with some pretty well-known pastors in my area who surprise me when they ask me advice on certain things. It reflects a certain humility and willingness to change and grow.

It seems there are two ways to age as a Christian leader. You can age well, as most of the leaders I’ve seen do. Or you can age poorly, getting more prickly, less teachable, more dismissive along the way. I had a conversation earlier this year with a long-time ministry leader who shocked my by his arrogance. He dismissed, with a smirk, nearly everything I was doing at my church, in my writing ministry, and in my educational endeavors. I left feeling like a total failure. Needless to say, I’m not going to be seeking him out for advice anytime soon. Thankfully, leaders like this are rare. But if I could humble give a word to older generations: age well. Realize how much you have to give to my generation. There are those of us who are eager to seek out your wisdom and your grace. We’re ready to learn and be shaped.

4) All generations should read to get a better grasp of history. I’m a bit biased toward history, I guess, so forgive me. But one of the things that plagues our debates, I think, is a thin grasp of both world history and church history. By this I mean God’s sovereign hand over all of history in building His Church and establishing His kingdom. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with young people, gripped by the alarmism of “this is as bad as its ever been” in the church and in the world. And ironically I’ve heard older generations say the same thing, “In all my years, I’ve never . . . ” I think this happens because people have their view of the world shaped by Twitter and the Drudge Report and the flashing neon signs of “breaking news” all over. But settling down and reading, appreciating and absorbing history reminds us that we are not the first generation to face significant challenges. Our challenges may not be as severe as those faced by previous peoples. What’s more, church history connects our generation to a rich, 2,000 year history of God’s work among His people. We’re reminded that we’re not the first generation to wrestle with faith and politics, in the world and yet not of it, social gospel versus proclamation, etc. We’ll also be humbled to know that perhaps we are not the best and brightest and most innovative, like we think we are.

Here’s the other thing history gives us: hope. Read the biographies of men like Moody, Luther, Tozer, Augustine, Graham, Mueller. Read about leaders like Eisenhower, Washington, Lincoln, King, etc. You’ll see how God works through flawed people to bring about His purpose. Every time I finish a biography of a great leader, I come away with hope and humility. The same God who was active in previous generations is alive and active today. He isn’t depressed by what depresses us and isn’t waiting with white-knuckles for our clever new machinations.

5) All generations could work on building unity. I wish I could declare a moratorium on attacks against the Church by the Church. The market is rich for evangelicals to write a book, pen a blog post, preach a sermon on “The problem with the Church.” There is a place for self-criticism, but that is ground so well-covered as to be saturated. We forget that, for all of its flaws, for all of its warts and blind spots, the Church is the bride of Christ. Jesus loves the church. You cannot separate the groom from His bride. He won’t let you.

Rather than building a platform by shooting at one part of the church from our own fortified positions, we should promote unity: gospel unity. That means a Church that is intergenerational, multi-ethnic, diverse. There is a place for defending the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). But that’s not the same as standing up for preferences in a way that alienates those who think differently. Unity begins by respecting other generations, by listening, by avoiding the sort of over-heated blog posts that drive traffic, but also drive unnecessary wedges. Yes, you will go to Church on Sunday and worship with someone who probably thinks differently than you do about politics, music, and the precise meaning of all the bowl judgements in Revelations, but that’s okay. That’s even good. This is how you practice love, forbearance, and grace in community.

I don’t want to build a Church that looks just like me, but a Church that looks just like Jesus.

May
14
2013

Why Your Spiritual Growth Matters to the Community

Last week I preached a Mother’s Day message from 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9. Paul compares discipleship to the actual practice of a mother nursing her child. In this, the mother is a source of life for her child. So it is that we as Christians, must be conduits of life-giving spiritual nutrition for those around us.

This has a lot of implications for the way we live. First, it matters what we ourselves are eating. A mother who is breast-feeding has to be very, very careful about her diet because what she consumes will then make up the milk for her baby.

As a Christian, what are you consuming? Are you growing yourself? Are you taking in the meat of the Word so you can feed others. You see, there is a progression here. You can’t exactly give a baby a steak or pork chops or pizza. A mother has to take in the food, chew it up, digest it, and then her body produces milk. A baby’s digestive system needs the simple formula that breast milk gives.

When our little Emma was a baby, she had such digestive problems that we had to purchase very expensive formula–$45 a can. It broke down the proteins so finely that it enabled her sensitive system to process it and for her to get good nourishment. Paul’s comparison to a nursing mother and her baby tells us something about the way we grow. We begin, as spiritual infants, with milk. Another Apostle, Peter, picks up this theme:

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:2-3 (ESV)

Notice Peter’s words. We begin with the pure spiritual milk of the Word—not diluted or polluted–but the pure milk of the Word. Kingdom as children, taking in the very basics, the very pure, refined, simple milk.

But, God doesn’t intend for us to stay that way. He intends for us to grow up. To do that, according to Paul, it seems we need to be fed and nurtured by someone more mature than us. Someone who can take the heavy meat of the word and feed us and help us to grow.This is why pastors and teachers and spiritual leaders are given to the Church (Ephesians 4).

Sadly, there are some Christians who still drinking milk who don’t pursue growth. Paul discussed this, in his frustrations with the Corinthians:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (ESV)

This is a crisis. Imagine my little Emma Rose—now three years old—is still on that expensive $45-a-can formula. When she was a newborn, it was a stage we knew she’d get through. But if, at three, she is still on the milk, we’d be going to doctors and experts and wondering what is wrong. She should be on to the meat by now.

And so it is with some Christians. They are still drinking milk. They’ve not pursued, with intentionality, the deeper things of God. They are content with milk. And something is wrong. It’s not always a matter of how old you are or how long you’ve been a Christian. It’s the way you approach your spiritual nourishment.

Sometimes you can present a child with food, but he doesn’t eat it. A good parent makes their kid eat. God as a good father, bring circumstances in your life that force you to look deeply into the word, to lean on him, and to grow up in your faith. But if you continue to resist, you will not grow. It’s up to you to take your fork and eat.

This means you prioritize church. This means you make Bible study, reading and prayer a habit. I think of Paul, who at the end of this life, was still asking for his books. I’m amazed that my wife, who watches four children, homeschools our two older ones, runs woman’s ministries, takes care of the house—she still finds time to grow in her faith. She’s probably read more books this year already than many Christians. Did I mention to you that she’s dyslexic and has a hard time reading?

The truth is that there are may Christians who are still spiritual infants, who haven’t grown much in the last few years, and still need milk. And here’s the tragedy of this, really. God has created each of us to a fountain of spiritual nourishment, a conduit of His grace to others. But when we fail to grow, we can’t feed others. We can’t help build the church. We can’t be a light in our communities.This was the concern of the writer of Hebrews:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14 (ESV)

Do you see what Paul is saying here—it should be a sober warning to all of us. You see, to live on milk means we can’t digest, can’t handle the meat of the Word. And the reason we need to handle the meat of the Word is not so we can be Bible nerds and know all the ways to pronounce Hebrew words, but so we can feed and give life to others.

The Christian life is to be one of giving, of making disciples, of growing up into salvation. It is allowing the gospel to so capture us that we grow up, so that we handle the deep things and pass them on to others.

There are people in our world God is calling us to feed, to love, to care for, to disciple, to nurture—are we fulfilling our role?  When we don’t grow spiritually, it’s not just a matter of our own malnutrition, it directly affects the community. People may be starving because we haven’t grown enough to feed them.