From the President

Which End of the Pool?

Dec 02 2014

One of the ways to stir up lively discussion among Christians is to bring up the subject of “Seeker Sensitive Churches.” Inevitably, blood pressure will rise and charges will be thrown back and forth. For some, “Seeker Sensitive” is a code word for a gospel message that has been compromised or watered down while others view it as a way to introduce people to Jesus in a nonthreatening manner. A question that often comes up in my mind is this: “What do we call the opposite of seeker sensitive?” Seeker insensitive?

Have you ever watched how various people get into a swimming pool? Some will dive in to the deep end without giving it a second thought while others will tepidly enter the shallow end, carefully testing the water with their toes. The former are immersed in a moment while the latter acclimate themselves slowly. Personalities and experiences can vary greatly. The real question should not be, “How did you get into the pool?” Instead, “What did you do once you were in?” If you dive right in, but don’t do anything else, you will not be ahead of the person who gets in slowly, but stays and swims.

There is great wisdom in giving milk to newborns. No one in their right mind would insist upon forcing a newborn to eat meat. The problem comes when there is not a transition from milk to solid food. “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.” Hebrews 5:13–14 (NIV) There is no shame in being an infant because, after all, that is where everyone is when they start. A child who develops normally will naturally reach the point where they are no longer satisfied with milk alone, but will instead crave solid food. However, if they do not receive solid food they will not properly develop to maturity.

We must be careful to not be critical of those who offer milk to infants or to assume that those who desire to introduce others to Jesus through the shallow end of the swimming pool do not want to lead them eventually into deeper waters. The ultimate validation does not come from the number of people who test the shallow water, but instead how many learn to swim proficiently? It is probably true that there are many who never leave the shallow water, but likewise, some who are thrown into the deep end don’t make it either.

The goal of Christian discipleship should not be to boast about how deep our water is but instead it is about the transition from milk to solid food or from the shallow end of the pool to the deep. It is not a good thing to boast that you do not offer milk or that your spiritual swimming pool only has a deep end. Maturity is a process that takes time and patience, but it is the proven way of making disciples. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.“ 1 Peter 2:1–3 (NIV)

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