Church and chocolate milk
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 Paul writes, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” When pastoring this young church Paul recognized that there were linear stages that he had to walk people through. Being infants, milk was appropriate. When they got spiritually older they were to eat solid foods. It’s a really good metaphor that helps us wrap our brains around the need to grow up spiritually.
Today, the dietary landscape of the church is looking pretty thin. There is plenty of milk to drink, but not a lot of solid food. The result is anemic Church with stunted growth.
It’s the church’s responsibility to provide resources and opportunities for people to satisfy their spiritual diet. In response to this need many churches have opted to offer chocolate milk. Like parents who want their kids to drink something that resembles “health,” many churches have opted to adapt to the needs of the immature instead of calling the immature to grow up.
Why do churches do this? Having been a pastor and been in countless conversations about this, here are some quick observations:
- It’s easier to sweeten something than to offer something different
- The culture we live in wants fast and convenient. Solid spiritual food doesn’t fit that mold. The fear is, if we offer something different, people will leave the church.
- The church has forgotten how to serve solid food. Our “kitchen” is absent of the tools to prepare and serve it and the pantry is bare of the necessary ingredients.
- Leadership is suffering from “spiritual lightness.” The duties of a pastor today are incredibly diverse. Preparing a path for maturity and solid food is a daunting task.
These observations aren’t meant to condemn the church, but to challenge each of us to be agents of change. Many have opted to leave the classical church as a protest to these sort of things. Absence doesn’t change things, it lets it decay further. Others have opted to whine and complain about what they aren’t experiencing. But when pushed to help make a difference they shrink back from involvement. Both responses are unhelpful. If you want to see things change, be the difference that helps make it happen.