A fellow preacher, Wade Hodges, wrote the following blog. I found it thought-provoking. Hope you will, too:
“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.