Skip to main content

“I’m Just Not Being Fed”

How often have you heard someone say, “I’m just not being fed” as they left your church to join another?  I have always thought that such a statement was a bit humorous.  After observing my own children when they were young and receiving a refresher course in recent years with grandchildren, I have learned that youngsters learn to feed themselves pretty quickly.  In fact, there seems to be an inherent drive for them to learn to feed themselves.  This doesn’t always mean that they make wise choices, but they do want to ingest food.    This leads me to some observations.

First, most children are motivated to feed themselves.  I am not sure that this is completely connected to hunger.  I think it has a lot with a desire to provide for their own basic needs without parental assistance.  They want to learn how to do this for themselves.   When a believer lacks this desire, what has gone wrong?  Why have they assumed that it is someone else’s responsibility to spoon feed them?  Where did they get this idea that they are not ultimately responsible for themselves?

Second, learning to feed oneself is messy.  This is why we provide bibs and lots of wipes to clean up after children as they dive into their food with or without utensils.  Parents accept that this is a messy process, providing assistance as needed, and standing ready to clean up afterward.  Perhaps one reason that some believers don’t want to learn to feed themselves is that it can get messy.  As we read the Scriptures, we often find things that raise more questions than answers.  If you want a clear, unambiguous system, you might find this a bit messy and unsettling. 

Third, children tend to be picky eaters and often rebel against what is placed before them.  Parents work to provide a balance until a youngster realizes that pea and carrots really taste good as well as being good for you.  Perhaps some believers are not willing to stay with it long enough to realize that we can find a balance in the Christian life as we deal with the more difficult, uncomfortable, and convicting parts of scripture.

Paul used this metaphor when he wrote to the church at Corinth:  “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2, NIV)

Perhaps those who feel they are “not being feed” in their present churches have become stunted in their growth.  Perhaps they do not have the inherent desire to learn to feed themselves, have found it too messy, or are just too stubborn to accept a balanced diet.  Let’s pray that they learn how to overcome this malady so they can eventually “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18a, NIV)


Weekend Fisher said…
Speaking for myself, as someone tempted to leave my current church for exactly that reason, I have to say: Your comments are condescending and insulting, in that you argue by analogy that the root cause is the immaturity of the person pointing out the problem, dismissing the possibility that they might have a legitimate point. I know how to self-feed and that is all that has sustained me for years now. But it's not asking too much for the church Bible studies and sermons to be edifying, it's really not. As Jesus said to Peter, "Feed my sheep." I'd strongly encourage you to ask people, "Why do you not feel you're being fed during the sermons or Bible studies?" rather than assume the problem lies with the motivation or maturity of the unfed. There is such a thing as a pastor who doesn't know how to feed the sheep; in that case, your comments amount to blaming the victims. (Seems like the prophets had something to say about things being the fault of poor shepherding, too.)

I'd encourage you to look at things from both sides, and not simply dismiss our comments as humorously immature.

Take care & God bless
Barnabas File said…
Please know that my intent was not to be "condescending and insulting" but to call each of us to accountability. I found that it is to easy to blame my failure to grow on others.

To carry my analogy in the blog a bit further, if a child failed to receive the nourishment he or she needs, someone often steps in to provide what the child needs--family, friends, or (in the worse case scenario), social services. However, a healthy child will be ready to learn how to feed himself or herself.

If one is not finding "spiritual meat" from the pulpit of the church where he or she attends, can he or she find it in a Sunday school class, Bible study group, etc.? When we join a community of faith, we usually respond to more than the pulpit ministry--music, service opportunities, community, etc.

Please be assured of my support for you as you seek to find the place where you can continue to grow and develop as a believer.

Check these out

Confessions of a Recovering Southern Baptist

I am grateful for my heritage as a Southern Baptist.  I was exposed to the Bible and worship from a very young age.  I grew up in a church in south Alabama that supported the Cooperative Program of missions giving.  This meant that our church had the benefit of being part of a supportive group of local churches and the educational opportunities that afforded. Our state convention provided varied and effective ministries with groups like orphans, ethnic groups, and college students.  We supported missionaries at home and abroad.  We had good Bible study and training literature (which we paid for, of course).  I went to an accredited seminary and paid a remarkably low tuition.  Wherever you went on a Sunday morning (in the Southeast and Southwest, at least), you could find a church that sang the familiar hymns and studied the same Bible lesson. In hindsight, I realize that this Southern Baptist utopia was imperfect.  There were significant theological differences, often geograp

The Bible Tells Me So

As I read the story of the Good Samaritan during my devotional today, I was reminded of the times that I have heard the story in the Christian education setting of the local church--as a youngster in primary and intermediate classes (old terminology), as a young adult in college classes, and then as an adult, often teaching the passage myself.     The characters and story line are very familiar due to these experiences of Christian education. These are challenging times for Christian education in the church.  Like so much of what is happening in the church today, the old forms do not seem to support present needs.  What once worked no longer seems to be effective.  Christian education or the formation of believers is in a state of flux. In an article on , retired professor Colin Harris addresses this issue. He points out that the period of the 60’s and 70’s  “saw the beginnings of a loss of vitality within the educational dimension of church ministry, as the

A Future for the Global Leadership Summit?

Craig Groeschel, the founder and senior pastor of Life.Church. The Global Leadership Summit which began as a project of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, and its founding pastor, Bill Hybels, over 25 years ago was held this week without Hybels. For several years, the GLS has been now produced by the Willow Creek Association, a spin-off organization and a loose network of churches but Hybels has been its driving force. Attended by thousands at the church facility in South Barrington and broadcast to thousands more at satellite locations, the annual meeting brings together not only evangelical leaders but outstanding speakers from business, charitable organizations, politics, and business.  For the first time, Hybels did not appear due to allegations of sexual impropriety brought against him over the past year by former employees, staff members, and business associates.  He has already left the church and resigned from the board of the association.

The Baptist Diaspora

I have just returned from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly.   As usual, I had the opportunity to meet and greet many friends and colleagues.   My reflections on the meeting will wait until tomorrow, but as I drove home and thought about who I had seen there, I also thought about those who were not there. During the 1980s and 1990s, the progressive Baptist movement in the south lost many who had identified with the Southern Baptist Convention to other denominations.  Women ministers moved to denominations such as United Methodists to become pastors.  Some changed to denominations such as the United Church of Christ due to its clear stance on issues of social justice. Others became Episcopalians because of their love of the liturgy. The exodus continues today, however.  An American Baptist friend on the west coast told me recently that several young ministers who had been nurtured in CBF churches and seminaries had accepted churches in his a

Calling a Woman as Pastor

From time to time, I receive a call from a member of a pastor search committee that is considering a woman as their senior pastor (which is a term that I don’t find anywhere in scripture, but I understand the concept).   I am always flattered that the candidate has chosen to use me as a reference, so I take the opportunity very seriously.   I must admit, however, that I come out of some of those conversations a bit frustrated. The interviewer usually has a set series of questions, and I try to respond appropriately while pushing the boundaries a bit.   By doing so, I am often able to engage the interviewer more informally and address some concerns specifically related to women in a pastoral role.   As a result, I am no longer surprised when the caller will say something to the effect, “But there are some on our committee who feel that she does not have enough experience.”    On one hand, if the concern is that the candidate does not have any experience as a senior pastor