Following are some quotes from pastors and church planters, some of whom are quite influential, some who’s star is on the rise, some who will probably continue their pastorate in relative anonymity. Almost without exception, all belong to the attactional, marketing driven, ‘seeker-sensitive church’ movement. Before we continue, you may wonder about my motivation behind this post; I have to honestly examine and question myself a bit on that point, too. Am I desiring the hurt these pastors? Do I have some destructive vendetta against their respective churches? Do I infer that those being quoted are always wrong in all they do and say and that they always operate from less than honorable motivations? The answers are thus: No, I do not want to hurt these pastors, and no, I do not operate from some desire to carry out a vendetta. I have attended a couple of the churches and know that they have good intentions. As an aside, I am, however, getting to the point where I no longer care about the intentions of individuals in positions of pastoral leadership within the visible church when matters of truth and error regarding the fundamental nature of the church, of the historic nature of the faith, is involved. We are not talking about what type of music is to played in the church or what color carpet is to be purchased for the church office. We are talking about the core responsibilities of a pastor.
Why then do I post these thoughts? First and foremost, this increasing common attitude towards pastoral responsibility represented by the following quotes grieves me to my core. Beyond these handful of quotes, I have also listened to sermons that carry the same message of disdain for the spiritually hungry, that proclaim the pastors abdication of his responsibility to feed the flock.
I struggled with the question of if I should publish this post (I feel as if I have already beat this subject to death). I also struggled with the question of providing links within the following quotes. While there is always the question of a quote being taken out of context on my part, I do not feel very comfortable bringing this post to a personal level; I prefer anonymity for those referred to because I do not know the men whom I quote though I have either read or listened to most of them. However, their words are already in the public domain for all the world to read, and any who should peruse through this post will have the context available. My concerns are more in regard to the methodology that breeds such attitudes rather the character of the individuals who hold to such attitudes and methodologies. That being said, here are their words with a few more of my thoughts on the other side of this post.
- #3 – The “Feed Me” Person I have never been able to keep one of these people around…ever! You know the drill…they always come from another church (they weren’t being fed there either) and they want you to know that they are sincerely seeking a church that teaches the Bible (and they will stay as long as you teach THEIR VERSION of the Bible.) But, if they become displeased with the sermon direction…or dissatisfied with your particular view on a theological issue…or convicted of not doing what they know they should be doing-they will say you are not feeding them and leave. Pastor, being honest here…I’ve NEVER encountered a person who claimed they weren’t being fed that also had a dynamic personal walk with Jesus. If that were true then they would show up to the church FULL and not need to latch on to the breast! It’s not our job to feed-but to lead to places where food can be found. (Emphasis mine. Perhaps church is the a biblically ordained place where food should be found and served.)
- As a follower of Jesus Christ WE have the responsibility to fill our tanks. It bothers me when a Christian makes a comment about a church and says, “I wasn’t getting fed there…” News flash-it’s not the churches job to feed you !!! Let me explain…
- I’ve heard it…you have too… “Christians” saying, “I just want to be fed!” It blows my mind! This would be equal to you and I going to an all you can eat restaurant and crying because no one would bring us any food. Food is all around in this environment…but if the person is lazy and self centered, wanting to be waited on hand and foot, then they could possibly starve to death when food is merely a few feet away.
I hope my point that this abdication of pastoral responsibility is not as unique or odd as one might think. So many churches are unbiblically redefining the nature of church. No longer is church for those in the faith, those redeemed by the blood of the Christ, but rather it is more for those who, as more than one pastor has inferred, want to kick the tires of this Christianity thing.
- The mission is not to feed – but to train.
- We all know that one of top 3 reasons people leave churches is the (infamous) claim:“I wasn’t getting fed there. ” Maybe you weren’t. Or maybe the church set the table, presented the bread of life, and you were too stinking lazy to bring it back to your mouth, chew it, swallow, and digest it, like a big boy. (emphasis mine)
- What people say “I just want some deeper teaching.” Alternate version:”I want the meat.” Alternate version #2: “I need to be fed.” What that usually means Don’t preach practical stuff to me. I would actually have to do something about it.
- “Waaaaa. I’m Not Getting Fed” (Part 1) I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the battle cry of my least favorite people, the church hoppers, shoppers, floppers, and stoppers … “I’m not getting fed.”
- And so … stop giving me your “I’m not getting fed” crap and go home and spend lots of time face-to-face with God, and you WILL grow in intimacy with Him. And then you’ll realize that there’s something far better than knowing about God, and it’s knowing God. (Sorry, I lost it there for a minute.)
- Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic: “Christians are bolemic (sic): they starve themselves all week and expect to gorge each Sunday. My goal is not to feed the sheep; but to make them hungry and teach them to feed themselves.” (Erwin is also perhaps more an emergent than a seeker-sensitive though both camps sometimes refer to him. Also, I have found this quote on numerous sites and blogs)
- From JDGreear.com reflecting on a meeting with McManus at North Carolina Baptist State Evangelism Conference wherein he quotes McManus: “Christians who have followed God for several years who are still asking to be discipled are factory defects (emphasis mine). The dough isn’t rising. Spend your time with a more profitable audience.” (As an aside, the previous quote is in no way intended as a reflection or commentary on JDGreear.com.)
- #3 Preach short sermons
Howard Hendricks used to say, “Keep them longing, not loathing.” I buy into that philosophy. I try to speak anywhere between 21 and 26 minutes max. That drives church hoppers nuts because they want to “be fed.” I’m not interested in “feeding people” unless they are in the early stages of their spiritual journey.
- Here is what I mean. On Sundays, when I speak. My goal is to create more questions and show my church where to find the answers.
- To do that, Bill (Hybles) continued, we need to help people “right-size” what they should expect from the church. The reason that the seasoned believers are more dissatisfied is because they still expect the church to be feeding them . They haven’t been taught to feed themselves. (As an aside, Bill impresses me as being a humble servant. From what I gather, I believe he may be having a change of heart, a change of mind, regarding some issues of church methodology.)
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
I would love for some of the men quoted above to tell me again how it is not their responsibility to feed the sheep and then tell me how much they really love Jesus. Those difficult and hungry sheep, how do you react to them? With arrogance and disdain or with patience, grace, and love….and discipline when necessary? What is more an antithesis to Christ-likeness than arrogance? How, to what extent, has the Christ poured His graced upon you? What, then, do you feed the flock – milk, candy, and all to often, a thinly veiled performance-driven legalism lite followed by some vague exhortation to make Jesus famous? How do you teach them about dying to self, a daily taking up of one’s cross, when the church all to often resorts to doing back flips to entertain those who enter through the door? How can you teach the flock – with any shred of integrity – patience, mercy, and love when you hold hungry, imperfect, sheep in contempt? I absolutely affirm and understand the need to spend time in the Bible and in prayer and to live out our faith, but under-shepherds are, without any ambiguity whatsoever, charged to protect and feed the flock. Too many fall short at both because they pitch their tents to close to culture. Too many pastors use numbers (membership, baptisms, conversions) as the sole, and unbiblical, benchmark for ‘success.’ Too many pastors lean on secular business practices and marketing skills to build the kingdom. Too many pastors and laity have an unbiblical disdain for doctrine, lack of biblical understanding, and therein perhaps lies the rotting root of problem.
I am so thankful for the pastors who faithfully exposit the Word of God and look after the flock with tender loving care and humility. I am so thankful for churches, be they reformed, charismatic, free-will, etc that do not conform to the world to make the gospel attractive. Remember that the cross is stumbling block. It is an offense to the church, to the Redeemer, when a pastor removes the offense of the cross to placate the ‘seeker’.
To reiterate, the root of the problem is not those hungry sheep. The root problem is that the church is being unbiblically redefined. Rather than building up the body of Christ, these pastors use what is to be the gathering of the redeemed to worship as primarily an outreach to the lost. Rather than going out into the the world, the pastor brings the world into the church. Rather than equipping the saints to scatter six days of the week, to go out into the world to evangelize, the are instructed to bring their friends to a church calibrated, more often intentionally or not, to sometimes remove the offense of the cross, a church all to often calibrated to entertain, a personality-driven church where the focus is, without intention, all to often on the pastor and the felt needs of the congregates than the Redeemer. Some will come to heard the Gospel through the noise and repent and believe. Some will have their ears tickled and engage a false assurance. Many will stagnate.