I appreciate one of the core elements of the Church of Christ movement; we value the Gospel. We refer to the preachers in our fellowship as “gospel preachers” our sermon events as “gospel meetings” and so on. The word is a touchstone for the culture of our brotherhood. And what better word? The Good News is central to the faith of all Christians.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NASB)

With that appreciation comes a criticism, one that finds a Biblical citation in Paul’s teachings. When Paul came to the church in Corinth, he came to people who needed basic understanding of the Gospel, but he wanted them to mature. Upon the writing of his first letter, they had not.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Whereas Paul was unable to move on and teach deeper, more challenging things because the Church in Corinth was immature, I believe that we have an equally bad, although significantly different problem in the church today. This is one problem but it has two parts. I’ll start with the easy one.

We do have mature Christians, many in fact, but we have yet others who are just barely able to be part of those “solid food” conversations. Those people are not being properly cared for in their Spiritual diets, not only from the pulpit but from their community within the church. We should be having conversations about richer and more nourishing Spiritual teachings and cultivating greater growth in our congregations. We can move past a recitation of the “plan of salvation” and into the day to day needs of Christians.

These conversations should be at least somewhat comfortable; these are our fellow Christians, and, more than that, they are our friends, neighbors and acquaintances from our own church families. This is an opportunity to turn foyer talk into a chance to discuss something other than sports and where to go for lunch.

The less comfortable part to tackle is how, from my perspective, the Church has failed to fully keep hold of our mission to spread the Gospel.

We are approaching people who are on a “milk” level with “meat” answers, some of which we don’t fully understand ourselves! The church spent in the West spent many years comfortable that people had some contact with the Bible at some point. We need to relearn the appropriate level of knowledge we can assume any given person has.

Are you ready? Here it is: zero. Assume benign ignorance. Start from the absolute beginning.

For the rest of us who are in the middle of the story, keep going back, getting in and digging deeper. Just remember who you are talking to and keep talking.

Ethan Kirl