What foods qualify for the kid’s menu at your local restaurant? Usually, it’s those dishes not too complex or challenging for the palette. Like mac n’ cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, and of course, the old reliable chicken fingers, french fries, and plain hamburgers (with nothing green in sight).
After many years of navigating the Christian publishing world, I’ve discovered a similar menu. It’s a publishing loop, of sorts, endlessly cycling the same five books, except by different writers and with different titles.
- How to________ (do anything “Christian”—date, have a Christian family, start a business, deal with difficult people, behave in godly ways)
- Therapy (Understanding and getting through suffering, or over pain, trauma, etc.)
- Doubt (apologetics for readers who still have skeptical inclinations and lingering questions)
- Bible studies “lite” (crafted with the sole purpose of encouraging, uplifting, comforting, and assuring, avoiding themes of emphasis that have unpleasant textures)
- Foundational teaching (a continued reinforcement of initial gospel topics and concerns of early Christian life)
I’m not lambasting anything here. These categories are all good because they meet the common needs of newly emerging Christian audiences. I have read a number of such books and have many in my own library (I’ve written a few, myself!). And to be fair, they reflect themes that weave through many passages of Scripture.
In listing this five-item menu, I’ve obviously left out questionable categories such as our pop fascination with miraculous phenomenons (angelic sightings, trips to heaven/hell, etc.) because their contributions are almost nil and mostly distract from true spiritual development.
However, depending on the way they are presented, the five listed tend to be genuine “food” products for less seasoned believers. They only become bad when they turn into a closed loop. You see, today, a large segment of the Christian population never orders off the adult menu because it has found itself in a perpetual cul-de-sac. This is where believers constantly re-cover the same ground. The most extravagant meals never manage to be more than gourmet bottled formula. Sadly, Paul describes such folks who are in this trap of their own making as “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).
Growing up means exiting the loop and leaning into more difficult territory. As the apostle also says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11).
The adult menu features some of the more grown-up ingredients:
- God-centered theology (biblical studies intended to highlight the divine purpose, the nature of God and His glory, and preserve the contextual message of God).
- The supremacy of Christ (a focus on His Person and Work as the ultimate means of edification).
- The indwelling experience of the Holy Spirit (spiritual experience as described according to Scripture, with an emphasis on internal life).
- Church life (developing practical interactions between members, growth in love, an others-focused approach to life).
- Spiritual formation (the ongoing aspects of sanctification and transformation/application of truth, cruciform living unto maturity)
- Proficiency and spirituality of service (excellent use of spiritual gifts for ministry to the church and the world, with a self-sacrificial bearing and team-based attitude).
This is the meat and potatoes of developing faith. Though the book of Hebrews counsels us to move into this column, that doesn’t mean abandoning the previous foundational items. You could no more scrap the fundamentals than you could discard arithmetic in favor of algebra. Actually, the items to be trashed from the days of our spiritual immaturity ought to be things that were wrong, not those that were merely simple.
I still like a cold glass of milk every now and then. A grilled cheese sandwich. Some chicken nuggets. A bowl of Lucky Charms.
But I’m way past living on those things.
I got to full-grown status because of roast beef. Baked potatoes. Hot, sourdough bread (slathered with butter). Lasagna. Fried fish. Mustard greens. Corn-on-the-cob. I could keep going here, and the list could continue growing, but it would only prove one thing: the adult menu presents itself in an exciting multitude of possibilities.
And it guarantees arrival.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on John Myer
Featured Image by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash
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