Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Relevant Metaphor

I just got back from a really refreshing hang time with some missionally minded friends. One friend, my planting coach Roy, was using his new book to impart some strategic and inspirational insight into church for the 21st century. I really had a great time picking his brain and sharpening the focus of what we're doing with The Journey. One of the things from his book that impacted me is in his section on consumerism as a hurdle for the 21st century church. He talks about how pastors feel pressure to create a service where people feel they were "fed." I have wrestled with this for years, hearing people say things like, "This church doesn't meet my needs." or "I'm not being fed here." Roy points out that there are some types of people who can't feed themselves in our society: babies, the physically impaired, or the mentally impaired. To quote Roy here, "Shouldn't 'being fed' be a strange metaphor for church life?" Great point! So, when we leave a church because we are not being fed, are we saying that we are babies or impaired somehow spiritually? Or, more to wit, am I saying I think God's people are babies or impaired because I feel I must feed them? Think about it. A close friend who is involved in missional living that precludes her from attending the local attractional church meetings on Sunday mornings was once judgementally asked, "Where are you being fed?" Her response was a classic one, "I believe that the mature can feed themselves." I agree with Roy in that part of the problem has been that most Pastors have trained their people to expect someone to impart the things of faith to them in small, pre-chewed bites that need no effort to swallow.
An imperative for me is to train people to love God and be obedient to His Word. That means they must know how to rightly divide it for themselves. The Journey should be a stew that everyone contributes to and God uses me to stir. I hope that God will use me to develop mature believers who can feed themselves, and who follow His calling to serve where He leads. If you find me doing otherwise, call me on it!


david moore said...

Too hard to find churches that really want to grow people as opposed to entertain them. The problem I see is the lack of teaching in the pulpits to lead people into the freedom that Christ offers in His Word. Whenever the church begins to quit worrying about what everyone else thinks and begins to teach what God says, then and only then, will the Body of Christ begin to make a difference in our culture.

graceshaker said...

seriously. hebrews 5:11-14 stylie.

interesting analogous sidebar - baby animals who do not learn to fend for themselves when it comes to food gathering typically dont last very long.