“I’m not being fed.” or “I am just not growing here.” or “I am just not feelin’ it.” If you have been in church leadership any length of time you have heard these phrases. If you have spent any time in church you may have even said these, or heard these said. These are code phrases that I have heard over my years in ministry, so here are just some of the things these phrases really mean:
“I don’t like the preaching.”
“I don’t resonate with the pastor’s content.”
“I don’t enjoy the pastor’s delivery or style.”
“I don’t like the pastor personally.”
“I liked my old (or the other) pastor better.”
“I have unrepentant sin in my life but it’s easier for me to blame the pastor.”
“I’m mad at somebody in the church and rather than reconcile, it’s easier to blame the pastor.”
“My wife doesn’t respect me. I’m not appreciated. My kids don’t listen to a word I say. I’ve got to blame somebody. So, pastor, it’s your fault.”
“I am mad at the pastor because he isn’t instituting my ministries or leading the way I think he should.”
“The pastor doesn’t say thank you and announce how great I am every time I do something.”
Etc, etc, etc….
We have a couple bird houses in our yard, one day when one of the kids opened the birdhouse near my wife’s blueberry bushes I saw a momma bird with a worm hanging from its mouth with a couple of beaks rising above the nest’s edge. Mama was feeding her babies. As I looked at the birds with their open mouth’s chirping, “Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!”, I immediately thought about how many Christians chirp on a regular basis on one of the exact same things I mentioned above and how much they are “not getting.” So, if you are someone who is currently saying, “I’m not being fed”, or any one of the other remarks, then I recommend you start doing one or more of the following:
Repent – Quit being a chirping bird in the nest with your mouth open. If you have been around long enough to know or use one of these phrases, then you have been around long enough to know how to feed and manage yourself. Most of us have a level of intellectual knowledge which far outpaces our level of obedience.
Feed Yourself – Your Sunday church service isn’t enough for you to live on, so feeding yourself the word through making time each day to read the bible and pray will keep you fed and spiritual health will result. One way to accomplish this is by using the SOAP method. Here is a link to a SOAP guide: ICC SOAP Guide
Begin Serving Others – The best way to combat selfishness and an inward focus is to serve the poor and under-resourced. We often want a church that will serve us and meet our needs, instead of expecting us to do the difficult and often uncomfortable work of serving.
Self-Evaluate – People who use these terms often have an elevated level of spiritual arrogance. None of us are that smart or insightful, yes, even me. I’m a grown man. There is only one person responsible for me not eating, not growing and being healthy. It’s not a family member. It’s not the church. It’s me. In many cases, what we are really saying is that we are too lazy to take care of ourselves and the church isn’t catering to our desires the way we would like them to.
Be Grateful – Your pastor spends all week studying the Word of God, grinding, combating hell itself and praying fervently for you and the congregation. Pastors faithfully feed us God’s Word on a weekly basis. Rather than saying, “I’m not being fed”, say “THANK YOU!”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34
Jesus’ spiritual food wasn’t to sit passively and receive but to be active, roll up his sleeves, and finish the work God sent him to do. Being spiritually fed (according to Jesus, at least) isn’t about sitting and hearing but by getting up and doing. So, if you’re not being fed spiritually, your ego isn’t being fed, instead of putting the responsibility on the preacher, and instead of even trying to dig deeper into personal Bible study, why don’t you get up and start serving in meaningful ways in your church? You’ll discover that spiritual nourishment comes through serving, not sitting. But too many of us don’t want that. We want to soak, not serve. There is a time for both, but most are heavy in soaking, not serving.
The way many of us approach church is like a cruise ship. When you walk on board a cruise ship, you expect to be entertained, you expect good food and good service, you expect leisure. If you don’t get that, if the service is bad, if the entertainment is not entertaining enough, if you’re not “wowed” enough, then you go find another cruise ship.
But I think a better metaphor is to approach church like a battleship. When you walk on board, the expectation isn’t to sit but to serve. You realize your part of a greater mission, and your mindset is to find a way to contribute however you can. If you complain on a battleship, it’s not because the food is bad or because there’s no entertainment. A valid complaint on a battleship would be that there’s no meaningful way for you to serve. Be a congregation where the pastor looks out and sees an army of encouraging, passionate, humble, grateful and devoted disciples who want to change their communities and the world for the glory of God.
Check out the short videos by Pete Wilson on being fed and John Bevere on some lesson learned.
Grace and Peace,