Feed Me!

Genre Alert: The following post is a rant. They were once popular among bloggers, but have since all but disappeared, with good reason I’m sure.

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“We just want to be fed.”

Every pastor has heard it from someone. Sometimes you catch it when they’re coming and sometimes when they’re going.

It’s something that church-going Christians say to justify their decision to change churches. Many use it as a smokescreen to cover up the real reason they’re leaving. After all, who can argue with such a rationale? That’s why God created the church, right? So that long-time church goers (and their kids) can be fed.

The irony is that usually the people who use this language are the ones who are least qualified to do so. If you’ve been attending church long enough to know the trick of using “we want to be fed” as an excuse to leave, then you should be spiritually mature enough to start feeding yourself.

Have you ever really thought of what imagery accompanies the “fed” metaphor?

When I hear it, I see a baby sitting in a high chair wearing an apple sauce smeared bib waiting impatiently for his mommy to shovel in another load of gooey stuff. Watch him as he closes down on the spoon. See his mother use it to wipe away the excess from the corners of his mouth. Now swallow. Good boy.

I’m sure anyone who has ever used this line to describe what they’re looking for in a new church is objecting to this image. Which one would you prefer? Maybe a wise shepherd leading his clueless sheep into greener pastures because heaven knows without a shepherd to guide them the ignorant sheep would either starve to death or sniff their way right off of a cliff.

Does that one make you feel any better?

There is a time when we all need to be fed like a baby or a sheep. My boys need feeding. If I don’t teach them the Scriptures and show them the way of Jesus, they will not find it on their own. New Christians need feeding. They need to learn a new story with new language as they leave their old way of life behind. But at some point, children and new Christians should grow enough in their faith to be wise enough to figure out how to feed themselves.

Pastors, we should expect the people in our churches to grow to the point in their relationship with God that they no longer depend on people like us to feed them.

Parents, we should reach a point in our faith when we no longer depend on someone else to feed our kids.

We need a new metaphor and fast, because too many “mature” Christians are making a fool of themselves by walking around saying they just want to be fed. It’s time they take off the bib, grab a spoon, and start feeding themselves.

What if one day the chief complaint from church going Christians were to be something like this:

The problem with our old church is that we weren’t being exercised. We’re looking for a church where we can work, serve, and maybe even suffer. We want to pay a price for something other than adding a new education wing to our building. We want to put it all on the line and do something crazy for God. We’re tired of being fed. We’ve been fed so much, for so long, that we’ve gotten fat. We’re spiritually obese and we can’t take it anymore. We want to be exercised!

Now that’s a metaphor.

It’s also a problem.

Pastors, let’s go ahead and admit it. If our churches were suddenly inundated with such complaints, we’d be the ones who would need to start wearing a diaper.

Comments

  1. Good stuff Wade.

  2. Could not agree more. Thanks, brother.

  3. Awesome, Wade.

    Churches that need sacrificial workers attract sacrificial workers.

    Most churches only need a couple of ‘em to sustain themselves and the work that they are attempting (a preacher and a song leader to do the feeding, maybe?).

  4. Darin Campbell says:

    Amen, brother. Could not agree more!

  5. Great post!

    Now if only I, as their minister, could start leading with a simple, sacrificial, radically inspiring life of my own…

  6. Keith Roberts says:

    I literally just overheard a young woman say,
    “We go to a church until we get tired of it, and
    Then we go to another one.”

  7. I sense you are frustrated because someone has left the fellowship you are devoting your life to. I would think it hurts. It will happen again you know.

    I think you are right . . . sorta. I totally agree we need to be a people who feed ourselves. BI want to share a couple of stories with you.

    Once I was a part of a congregation where the preacher preached about baptism . . . and “the plan of salvation” . . . every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening, every time he opened his mouth…for years. His emphasis was to always talk about baptism. I was so sick of baptism that I just read scriptures during the sermons as did many others. I know you know I’m a slow learner, but I finally figured out that I just needed to get myself and my family to another congregation where my wife (a new Christian) could have more of a balanced diet. It saved our lives!

    Later in a different city I found myself at another congregation where the diet was different. There I hardly every heard the gospel. But we heard a lot about “we know what you are going through…and God is there” kinda stuff. Little meat, little depth, little substance. Shallow. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. I loved the man. I would bleed for the man. That didn’t change the fact that the sermons seemed like a waste of time.

    I’ve heard you preach. And I believe you have a balanced diet. Many preachers are not as talented as one so young as you. (You won’t stay young for long, trust me.)

    I have learned that sometimes one needs to leave a congregation to find a diet that challenges them to think and that gives nourishment.

    Have you stepped back and looked at the diet you are feeding yourself and to those you serve? As “with it” as you are, you may find yourself offering a diet that is too much dessert, or too little green beans, or too much fiber (yea you can eat too much fiber.) It can happen to the best. And you are one of the best.

  8. Am not a pastor in the ‘leading a church’ way but I minister just the same. That was funny and thought provoking..I have often wondered about the ‘not being fed’ excuse also…fat and lazy and in need of exercise…what a cool analysis of who we are.

  9. Often the “feeding” excuse is code for “we don’t do things like we used to do” or “I’m bored” (translation: I’m not being entertained anymore), etc. “I’m not being fed” beceme popular because it sounds good. It makes the speaker sound as if they are someone who seeks spiritual depth and feels they’re not getting it. However, if one can diagnose their problem, then surely they should know the solution. If spiritual depth is what they’re looking for, then join a Bible study that mines those depths even if you have to look for one outside of your church. Volunteer to teach a class in your church that is more than pablum or sign for a course at a seminary. If spiritual depth is truly what people are missing, then they should do something about it other than complain. But if entertainment or the status quo is what people are looking for, then the problem will always remain no matter where they go. However, it’s hard to look within and say the problem (or any problem, for that matter) is with us. It’s always easier to look outside of ourselves and place the blame there.

  10. Thanks to all for the comments and responses to this one. I just approved a couple of comments that were stalled in moderation. Sorry for the delay.

    What I wrote above is unfair, unbalanced, and a snapshot of how I felt on the particular day I wrote it. I keep wanting to go back and soften it a bit, but if I mess with it too much it will cease to be a rant I guess.

  11. Rant away! I, too, had a rant of my own recently — about a much less important topic (church websites) and subsequently remembered why no one rants anymore.

    I have said these very words, sadly, but when I think about where I was… I wasn’t wanting to leave a church, I was wanting to be able to be still and not do. I was needing a Mary heart and being Martha. So, same concept — it was my own stinkin’ fault I wasn’t being fed. Martha was probably hungry, too, while she was making sure everyone else ate. I have learned.

  12. Having once been the one tempted to leave a situation for lack of feeding, I can’t help but agree with our responsibility in seeking our own feeding. While attending a very small church I was delegated to being on regular nursery duty. As a stay at home mom of 2 toddlers and still being quite young in faith, I felt as though I was absolutely starving for lack of ‘feeding’. In fact, at the time, I was living on virtually no feeding! I was frustrated that the only time that I might actually receive some teaching had become yet another area of responsibility and felt my only option was to go elsewhere.

    My husband and I really were not feeling led to leave though, and I strangely felt that I was to remain in the nursery. So, after a small battle of will I decided to follow God’s leading even if it didn’t make sense and continued to work in the nursery. What was interesting to see in hindsight was that in my heart, when I decided to remain, I shifted my dependence on others to feed me (ie pastor), and instead became exclusively dependent on God to teach me. And teach He did!! In the past few years I have spent less and less time physically present during service time at church, but my faith and understanding of God has literally exploded. I can only attribute that to being obedient to God’s leading and looking to Him to be responsible for feeding me despite where I am.

  13. It is amazing how God works. Last night I was thinking about this same exact issue and came up with the same exact methaphor. When we demand to be fed and complain that the pastor is not feeing us, we are just like babies in the highchair crying about how we are hungry. Yet, we are mature adults and have the ability to make our own meal – to feed ourselves.

    Some else that struck me here…When did the fundamentals of Christianity ever become boring? When did Salvation become boring? If we are bored with Salvation – then I suggest that is a sign of immaturity. Salvation is exciting! The entire mirable of Grace is exciting.

    This should serve as a reality check for all of us. When we start getting bored with what Jesus did for us…we are acting immaturely.

So, what are you thinking?