I’m Not Being Fed (and Other Stupid Things Christians Say)

If forced to make the decision, our church from day one has decided that we will offend the self-seeking Christian before the spiritually seeking non-Christian.

I personally believe you can only strategically choose to offend one of those groups.

Some churches are purposely designed to offend the spiritually seeking non-Christian, whether they describe it that way or not. The music they sing, the way they dress, the decorum of their buildings, the vibe they create on Sunday morning, and most important – what they define as a “win” missionally – all combine to create an atmosphere that repels the very people Jesus came to die for.

Other churches believe it’s absolutely critical to nurture the believers in the church into radically sold-out world-changing followers of Jesus, but also believe Christ-followers are called to serve. Jesus taught in Mark 10:43-44,

“Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

Christians always define those verses as being willing to do crappy stuff for other Christians without getting any accolades. I’m sure that’s part of it, but I think what Jesus was driving at was that he wanted his followers to purposely choose to not get their own way, to put their own wishes and interests and needs aside in the desire to further his kingdom. Therein lays the motivation to offend the Christian before the non-Christian: Christians are supposed to be willing to be offended.

Show me someone who keeps whining about not singing enough worship songs, or “being fed,” or doesn’t want the church to focus on evangelism, or missions, or feeding the poor, or singing secular music on Sunday, and I’ll show you a freakishly immature Christian. The sad, and sometimes scary thing, is that 99 times out of 100 they simply don’t realize it.

It’s one thing for a Christian to say, “Hey, I’m giving my life away for the lost and poor, but I’ve got a lot of growing to do. Can you help me?”

It’s an entirely different thing for a Christian to live in the most Christianized culture on the planet, replete with an endless supply of Christian churches, books, TV programs, radio shows, websites, conferences, 501© non-profits, blogs, Tweets, Bibles in 67 gagillion translations, etc., and say, “I’m not being fed.” That’s like a morbidly obese person setting down their 11th plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet and screaming at the waitress, “Bring me more food NOW!”

Given the choice of offending this type of Christian or someone far from God, it’s easy to know which choice Jesus would make.

How about you?

Brian loves helping Christians live thoughtful, courageous lives. He's a popular blogger, author, and pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

  • http://billgrandi.com bill (cycleguy)

    The whole “I’m not being fed” mentality shows they don’t “get it.” It is not about them anyway. To borrow the often used phrase “we play to audience of One” and we ain’t him. It is almost like you want to say, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” as they turn to leave and go church shop somewhere else. Sorry for the rant. :) Good thoughts Brian. Freakishly immature. I like that.

    • Brian Jones

      Thanks Bill. Having exuded freakish immaturity at various times in my life, I know it when I see it. :)

  • http://www.velocitychurch.com tim cole

    brian, great post… another pastor related a story to me just last week about a couple he’d met that had recently left redeemer church in NYC (tim keller’s church). very curious, he asked them why they’d left. they told him, no joke, that they just didn’t feel like they were getting fed there. i laughed out loud, but avoided the urge to pee my pants!

    • Brian Jones

      Someone left Keller’s church because they weren’t being fed???

  • http://jonstolpe.com Jon Stolpe

    I’ve heard this mantra or message (at CCV) many times before, and I get it! And I believe it.

    But, I still have a question that rattles around in my head from time to time: “Once we get people across the ‘line’ of salvation, do we do a good job of teaching them to grow?” I don’t have an easy answer for this. I know (or believe) that one-on-one accountability and ‘smaller’ group connection can play a key role in teaching this, but this isn’t always a natural experience for someone who has just crossed that ‘line’. Making disciples is part of the great commission. As Christ followers, we have a responsibility to lead people across the ‘line’ AND to help them become disciples or fully devoted followers.

    I think this can be done without offending the spiritually seeking non-believers.

    • Brian Jones

      Jon,

      I agree. I believe both evangelism can be done effectively. I just believe that 70% of discipleship must happen 1-1 or in a smaller group setting, simply because people need to ask questions. Preaching is a one-way communication, and a limited one at that. 52 weeks of Bible preaching helps towards discipleship. No question about that. But discipleship is teaching someone to obey (Matthew 28:18-20), not just teaching information (which preaching is by default).

      How are we doing on that? Much better in the last two years than in the previous 8. But that is still something that I wrestle with.

      Our new foundations class (for which you will be getting an invite from Alyssa anytime) is going to go to great lengths to help solve this problem in our church. I look forward to brainstorming with you about this. It’s going to be a great ministry to address this very thing.

      • http://jonstolpe.com Jon Stolpe

        I appreciate your reply. I think it helps to hear your heart on this and to know that evangelism and discipleship are important to you. I’m looking forward to brainstorming with you as well on what we can do to do both better.

  • ian

    If Christians are supposed to feed themselves, and they should, what is your job as a pastor? Isnt this also your job? If not then why did Jesus command Peter to feed his sheep? Missions and evangelism are important yes, and seeing deeply God’s glory makes evangelism our natural inclination. With regards to secular music it truly has no place in the church, in Revelations do we see se ular songs being sung in heaven? Of course not. I encourage you to feed His sheep and read the pastoral epistles, im troubled by what you write.

    • http://billgrandi.com bill (cycleguy)

      In fairness to Brian (but i am sure he could “defend” himself adequately): I am also a pastor. I see exactly what Brian is talking about. i study a lot. I study to preach, teach, lead, and shepherd my people. but when someone comes and says, “I am not being fed here” or “I don’t like the style of music because you don’t sing such-and-such style” is garbage. A pitcher of water poured out needs an empty vessel to fill up or it is spilled all over. If someone is not willing to listen and learn, all the study and all the feeding and all the reading of the pastoral epistles is worthless. As for the music: music is neutral. Lyrics make or break whether it should be played or not.

    • Brian Jones

      Hi Ian, nice to interact with you. Great question. My responsibility is to preach the word. If you go to the “sermons” section of the website you can judge whether or not you think I do an effective job at that. Secular, well we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. I actually wrote about that in today’s post.

  • Courtney

    Brian- Appreciate your post. The one question I have is, Why is secular music necessary in the church? I’m not arguing right from wrong, but it has a title of “secular” for a reason. Websters Definition: “of or relating to the worldly or temporal”. I belong to a large church that occasionally plays secular music. I’m a leader in the church as well and I spend my lunches defending the use of the music in church. In an effort not to cause my brother to stumble…I’m left asking, why take the risk, what’s the benefit and again, why is it necessary? Please share your thoughts.

  • Joel

    In response to “I’m not being fed” and other stupid things Christians say: When a pastor uses strong language like “freakishly immature” he probably has a specific set of circumstances in mind and the limitations of space and the language itself prevent full exposition. That being said,life circumstances have made me less judgmental of ordinary Christians. I grew up in a missionary family. We worked very hard at evangelism and feeding the poor. I was very self-righteous about it. No one worked as hard as we did. Then I grew up and got a job and a family. The storms of like being what they were, there were many Sundays when just getting myself to Church was a victory. That is when I learned to be less judgmental. Just like we don’t have the ability to tell the wheat from the tares we do not have the ability to the tell the difference between the Christian who appears weak because his burden is great and the Christian who is weak because he likes it that way.

    By the way, the reason evangelical churches are having this problem is that we try to use the Sunday morning service as our evangelizing time. We have brought the tent meeting into the church and moved the time for the committed Christian to the small group. Not everyone is comfortable with this and it is not just the immature.

    And Ian, above is correct. The job of the pastor is to feed the sheep. If you insist that the sheep feed themselves then what is the point of ‘not forsaking gathering together’.

    • Gary

      In 1 Peter 5:1,2 Peter tells the elders it is their responsibility to “feed the flock of God which is among you taking the oversight thereof…” This responsibility is not really the sole function of one man (like a pastor)but should be shared by a group. Feeding spiritually should be as often as feeding physically; once a week doesn’t get it (or even three times a week). And what healthy, mature, adult doesn’t feed themselves?

      In fact, Paul chides some in the Corinthian church for being spiritually immature (Paul called them “carnal” but refers to them as babes, 1 Cor 3:1-3)and later states (Romans 8:6) ” for to be carnally minded is death…” and contrasts carnality with spirituality or death with life, a sobering thought for those of us who call ourselves christians without the fruit of doing our Father’s will. (From reading that passage you get the thought that we have a choice to make for ourselves – as opposed to our pastor making the choice for us) Jesus disturbs some more of these “christians” in Mathew 7:19-23. Jesus not only tells us that we should be looking at the fruit in our lives to see if we are maturing believers and doing our Father’s will and He too tells us that – ultimately – to be carnally minded is death. Were those people who Jesus called “workers of iniquity” surprised? You bet! After all, they were busy “doing” (casting out devils, prophesying, doing many wonderful works in Jesus name)the work but had missed the point of life eternal; without a relationship with Jesus there isn’t any! And who’s to blame? Jesus called THEM worker’s of iniquity…not their pastor.

      As far as secular music in church…Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:22,23 that he “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

      • Joel

        Gary raises a good point by talking about elders being responsible for caring for the flock. Our problem as evangelicals is that we have our roles confused.

        Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (NAS)

        I think this problem arose because we evangelicals expect the guy in the pulpit to be both evangelist and pastor but if the guy in the pulpit is evangelizing who does the teaching and when? It is biblical to say the elders should teach and shepherd the flock but the biblical office of elder really resembles our office of pastor but only the mega churches are large enough to have pastors/elders/overseers in plural but if we all link up so our churches are larger we risk falling into the same traps that befell the large protestant denominations from whom we broke away.

        It is a difficult problem. I pray that God sends us leaders who can help us to deal with it.

  • Tracey Axnick

    You know, my pastor touched on this VERY thing last Sunday. He pointed out that “consumer Christians” are completely missing the point. Kevin (the pastor) and the worship team AREN’T the “entertainment” on Sunday, nor is the congregation the “audience”. GOD is the audience, and we are worshiping FOR him. Sadly, though, so many folks church shop to see “what they can get”… and I’ve even seen reviews on churches on sites like Yelp. Really? A review?! Complete with a “star rating”?! (sigh…)
    I think we, as a body of believers, have to always keep in mind (and be tender towards) the spiritually ‘unresolved’ and seekers among us. If our churches should be ‘about’ people, it should be those people… and not the ‘professional Christians’.

    • Brian Jones

      Well said Tracey!

  • http://www.kidpreacher.org Darin Roberts

    I have been a Bus Ministry director, an traveling Children’s Evangelist, a Sidewalk Sunday School Pastor,and a Children’s Pastor for 30 years. I have worked with “Church kids” “Bus Kids” and “Street kids” and I have to agree with the idea of someone saying “I am not being fed” as foolish.

    Paul exhorts the people to take every teaching, than go home and study to 1) be sure what he said was true, and 2) to build their own scriptural knowledge so that THEY (pastor, evangelist, prophet,…) IS READY at a monents notice to be a wittness of what Jesus Christ has done for them.

    Evangelism can, and should happen EVERYWHERE! In the mall, at the store, in a pulpit, at a soccer game, or even on a fishing boat. Evangelism is NOT just for the Evangelist. Discipleship also happens one on one, in small groups, and yes, sometimes in the large church setting, and is to be done by ALL mature Christians. Does not the scripture say for the older men to teach the younger, and the same with the ladies???

    Our problem is what we call “Pastor” has been mass marketed, twisted, and redefined. A pastor is a caregiver, one who give council and guideance, protects the flock, preaches – sometimes even using words. I as a children’s pastor am expected to be a teacher, pharmacist, psychiatrist, lawyer, and more. But pastoring is about the SOUL care. Sundays are the least important part. Yes, I want to inspire the crowd, have the spirit fall, see miricles. But I want that daily. It is the NON-Biblical expectation of our “entertain me” congragations that are the weakness.

    God rebukes the church that lost it’s “First Love”. He did not call us to have a great worship service, or even have a “Great Service”. He said to go, wittness, share, serve.

    I know I went long, but I don’t get to voice to people over 3 ft. tall very often. Let me finish with this. When someone comes to me and says they are not being fed, I want to put em on a bus, drive to the neighborhood where I bus the kids fron, point at the Spiritual Starvation in the homes there, and then ask the person if they want to try to explain the comment. The ones who complain that they are not being fed are also almost always the ones who will NOT do a thing to bring in those kids to the church, to invite one of those street families to their home. I never understood how someone who says they are SO hungry for God after years of beign a Christian, would condemn the street kids to hell by not being willing to go TELL them. Any person who you deny sharing the saving message of Jesus to is like keeping hold of the rope when someone is sliding into a well.

    Wanna get fed? Digest what you already got by DOING IT!!!

    • Roland

       

      I guess
      there is a little bit of truth in most every post here, except for the harsh
      tones and bashing rants. I use to belong to a church whose basic teachings were
      John 3:16. I mean how much teaching about “Love” and John 3:16 can
      you preach on week in and week out.  Sadly and unfortunately many have
      left the church in search of God’s word.  At some point there is a responsibility and  need
      for equipping of the saints and the exalting of God our Father in it. In the
      end we will be accountable to that for ourselves. In reference to life groups taking this on,
      yes life groups are important but are they to take the place of the shepherding
      and the feeding of the flock?  Scripture tells us that the Word is active
      and living and sharper than any two edged sword. In Eph 4:13-15  Gods Word
      tells us that we are to attain the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man,
      to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  It
      goes on to teach us “As a result we are no longer to be children tossed here
      and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery
      of men …..we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head”…
      Should this responsibility and discerning of God’s word be left solely to home
      groups as some church pastors believe it or would have it?  Maybe the
      language used by the many that say “I am not getting fed” refers to
      the many frustrated, who hunger and are seeking of the word of truth to be
      taught to them correctly. They may not have many other means of understanding His
      truths other than the church pastor. Remember the words of Christ –  ”Sanctify
      them in the truth, your word is truth”. Let’s not rush to judgment on the
      ones seeking the truth. Maybe many times the resources are limited and the
      pastor in their communities are just not equipped themselves to lead and feed. Instead
      of commenting on these issues negatively and criticizing, we need to keep
      praying that ones who hunger can be led to a place of truth or path that can
      help them in their walk so they can be sanctified in there walk to the full
      measure in Christ Jesus and  become fruitful as doers of the word and not
      mere hearers. 

       

      Walking in His Word.

       

       

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