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Spiritual Growth Levels: Ministering to Spiritual Infants


Spiritual Growth LevelsPeople are at different levels spiritually. —

spiritual infants
spiritual children
spiritual adolescents
spiritual adults
spiritual parents

We Start as Spiritual Infants But Should Mature to the Next Level:

When we think of spiritual infants, we tend to think of new Christians.  That, however, is not always the case.  The writer of Hebrews addressed people who were believers for a sufficient length of time to have matured more than they did.  He said, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers (spiritual parents), you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Heb. 5:12)

Also, be aware that spiritual growth does not necessarily correlate with physical growth.  Adults by physical age can be spiritual infants.  I’ve seen children by physical age who appeared to be more spiritually grown up than some adults I know.  The physical age level development of those we serve must be taken into consideration when serving but guard against treating them solely in accordance with their physiological stage.

Spiritual Infants Described:

1)  Spiritual infants are not very good at discerning right from wrong.  They have a shallow understanding of truth.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:13-14)

2)  Spiritual infants are not very steady when it come to standing in the face of adversity.  They have a hard time standing firm.

. . . infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  (Eph. 4:14)

Ministering to Spiritual Infants:

  • They need basic content — pure spiritual milk, not solid food (Heb. 5:13-14; 1 Pet. 2:2). Start with what they can understand and build on that.  If you get too far ahead of them, they will not make progress.
  • They must want to be fed spiritually, to “crave” it so they can grow (1 Pet. 2:2).  Work at building a passion for truth within them.  Help them see how essential God’s Word is to their lives so they want to be fed.
  • They must learn to feed themselves (Heb. 5:13-14).  Accept that you might initially have to spoon-feed them but work toward weaning them.  They will never grow up if they remain dependent on others.
  • They must learn to walk in the Spirit so they don’t give in to the flesh (Gal. 5:16-26).  Help them take small baby steps until they become more steady.

Bible teachers, you can take a strategic role in discipling spiritual infants toward spiritual growth.  The Discipling Students Toward Spiritual Growth PowerPoint and worksheets will provide a greater understanding of spiritual infants in different areas of their walk with God along with instruction about the other levels of spiritual growth.

No matter how you serve, however, it is important that you understand where the people are spiritually if you want to best meet their needs.  Bible teachers aren’t the only ones with opportunity for discipling people toward spiritual growth.  We all have a part.


4 Replies to “Spiritual Growth Levels: Ministering to Spiritual Infants”

  1. How do you minister to youth groups with vm varying levels of spiritual maturity? We have a lot of spiritual babies and a handful of spiritual adolescents in one group. How can we meet the needs of both groups without minimizing or neglecting the needs one or another? Our youth council is trying to find the right way to do this. Thanks for your suggestions!

    • Sometimes pairing those who are more spiritually mature with those who aren’t can be helpful. The responsibility of mentoring/discipling can help grow the mature even further while the less mature are also helped. Of course, you need to adequately communicate with and train those who are taking on this role or very possibly that intent will not be realized.

      As to actual teaching time, if you teach to the level of the spiritual babies, you will most certainly not only neglect the needs of the more mature but also bore them which can mean trouble. Keep in mind that people can generally grasp one step ahead of them. If you teach more to the level of the more mature and then provide small groups wherein it can be followed up on other levels to answer any questions or clarify what they might not understand, then you should reach everyone. So, basically, this would be a large group/small group approach. The large group instruction gets followed up with small group interaction to help ensure the implications and application fit everyone. This is a good place to give the more mature opportunity to guide the others as they could be group leaders. Again, make sure you invest in them so they are equipped to truly help. This is one approach that can be effective. I pray God gives you the wisdom for what will work best in your particular situation.

  2. hello have been a Christian for over 15 years but I feel like a spiritual infant which I know is not normal I am struggling to go up the ladder so that a I can enjoy everything in the lords kingdom

    • Hello, Glory. Sometimes the Christian life and growing in it can seem like a struggle. Often that is because we’re trying to make it happen on our own. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29-30). In Psalm 46:10, we read of God exhorting us to be still, or cease striving, so we can know that He is God. One of the biggest boosts to our spiritual growth is getting to know more and more the magnitude of who God is and seeing Him at work in and through our lives. The more we grasp how great and faithful He is, the more we’ll rely on Him. The more we rely on Him, the more we grow.

      Studying God’s Word, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers are tools God uses but ultimately He is the One who produces the growth within us. — “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3) Jesus said, ““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5)

      Keep reflecting on the greatest work God has done on your behalf — sending Jesus to die on the cross to take the punishment your sin deserves. Keep remembering what Jesus has done for you and who you are in Him. 2 Peter 1:5-9 says that those who aren’t growing are “nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

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