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.

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