What does it take to bring a person to spiritual maturity?

Have you noticed that the most essential parts of a process are often the most complicated? It is far easier for an architect to sketch a dashing roof line than to work out the tedious schematics. It is always more fun to invite guests for dinner than to cook the meal and do the dishes afterward.

In ministry, when we invite a person to follow Christ and the answer is yes, there is a surge of rejoicing all around. Darkness has given way to light; a new life has begun. The next stage, however-the crucial stage if this spiritual newborn is to survive-is the developing, forming, nurturing, establishing, rooting, confirming, discipling of the new Christian.

As the previous sentence illustrates, we in the church use varying language to describe the task. But there is no question about the importance. From the moment Jesus stared down his most impetuous disciple and said, "Feed my lambs," the value of caring for the spiritually young has been set. Church leaders agree that answering an evangelist's ...

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