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The Food Groups and Our Spiritual Growth


Do you remember the food pyramid? Most of us learned about it sometime fairly early in our schooling. It showed how many servings of the different major food groups—breads and grains, fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products—we need each day. Though the consensus on what constitutes healthy eating changes from time to time, the point of the food pyramid stands: we need certain things in proper balance in order to grow healthy and strong.

The same is true in our spiritual lives. We’re meant to grow as followers of Jesus. And to do that—to be formed into the image of Christ for the sake of others 1—we need certain elements in our lives.

That’s why at Christian Fellowship, we’re launching a new discipleship plan called GROW. Our desire is to help each of us grow through the Gospel, applied by the Holy Spirit, in Community. If you missed it, I taught on this last Sunday. You can watch the sermon here.

During the sermon, I spent a few minutes walking through our new GROW discipleship plan. You can see more details and read about it here. But the essence of the plan is to help us engage in each of the core elements of growth that help the gospel get into us so that it forms and shapes us, and so that we grow into the fullness of Christ together.

The major categories—or “food groups,” if you will—in GROW include:

1. Core Classes – these are classes we will offer on a regular basis at CF that we believe will help us begin to learn the language of the gospel by heart and to have a solid foundation in the basics of our faith and of what it means to know and follow Jesus.

2. Personal Practices – these are simply practices or “spiritual disciplines” that help us create space in our lives for encountering God’s presence and for giving the Spirit room to form us by the gospel. Some of the practices include things like Scripture reading, regular prayer, silence and solitude, and a whole host of others. We need daily and weekly rhythms that help us encounter Jesus, and these are some ideas to help us with that.

3. Relational Growth – as I said Sunday, we grow into the fullness of Christ as we “speak the truth in love” to one another (see Eph 4:15). In other words, we grow through reminding one another of the truth of the gospel and of the unsearchable riches of Christ that are ours. So being in relationship with others—whether in a men’s or women’s group, a small group, a prayer trio, or some other place where you are really known and can share who you are with others and they can do the same with you, where speaking the truth in love can really happen—is crucial to growing in Christ.

4. Service – our goal is to be formed into the image of Christ for the sake of others. God has given each of us gifts of grace to be shared. As we serve others—whether through a ministry at CF, through a ministry to our city, or simply through serving a neighbor or friend in need—we help others grow, and we ourselves grow as well. Paul says that when each part of the body works properly, it makes the whole body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph 4:16). We all have a part to play!

So that’s our “food pyramid”—our plan for growth. Henri Nouwen, well-known for his writings on spiritual disciplines, calls his “food groups” solitude, community, and ministry.2 We’ve labeled them personal practices, relational growth, and service. But the ingredients are identical. We need each of these in our lives in order to grow healthy and strong as followers of Christ.

I want to encourage you, look over the categories and ideas we give you in GROW. Think about which of these elements you may be lacking in. Pray about what it might look like for you to seek to grow in one or more of these categories in the comings months. Our desire is for every person at CF to participate in GROW together.

Christ is our aim—that he would become bigger to us. He is the bread of life, the living water—the one who nourishes and satisfies our hungry souls. So let’s feast on him together, and GROW!



1. M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation (IVP Books, 2016).

2. Henri Nouwen, “From Solitude to Community to Ministry,” Leadership Magazine, 1995.

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