Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. (Heb. 6:1)

AS A MISSIONARY, I took courses that spoke about the dangers of paternalism. Even though I had been told that paternalism was wrong, I still tended to treat the African church leaders like little children and did not trust them to be effective in ministry. I felt that because I had a masters’ degree, I was the expert in ministry. The Zimbabwean church leaders I had been sent to work with had very little education. In fact, some had no formal education at all.

One day Umfundisi Nyoni (Pastor Bird) approached me. He shared that he and some of the other pastors were tired of being treated like incompetent, ignorant children. When I asked him to give me an example of me treating them that way, he said, “You don’t teach us the deep things of God. Over and over you have told us we are not yet ready to learn more difficult things. However, the Bible has so much more to say to us. If you want us African Christians to truly be mature in our faith, you have to help us move beyond elementary teachings (beyond baby food) and start feeding us solid food! We are ready and wanting to grow. Help us by teaching us what we need to know to be mature in the Lord.”

After you have laid a good foundation, build on it.

Jim Lo is the author of Connect with God: The Purpose of Prayer (WPH), coauthor of Unholiness (WPH), and the dean of chapel at Indiana Wesleyan University