Spiritual Spoon Feeding

In the midst of this season, a lot of people have moved to attending online church services, which I think is great, except for this underlying idea that so many of those transitions have been made with the notion that believers will go unfed if they cannot attend a weekend service. That’s a bit intense, I know, but stick with me here for a minute. Followers of Jesus cannot survive off a 1-hour service each week. We need to be trained to receive directly from the source—Jesus! In John 15, Jesus teaches us that we can do nothing without him. He does not say we can do nothing without the church, he says we can do nothing without him. That is an important distinction. He is our source. He is the one we go to for our spiritual feeding. Unfortunately, too many believers have fallen into a trap of believing that they go to a church service as the primary place to be fed. And if we are completely honest with ourselves, pastors carry part of the blame for allowing members of the body to continue in this mindset. Jesus is the vine that we need to stay connected to, and our spiritual nourishment should flow directly from him. The body of Christ certainly has a role, but it may not be the role that you think it is.

Ephesians chapter four teaches us that Jesus gave Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers (commonly called the 5-fold ministry) as gifts to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” The role of the 5-fold ministry is to equip the saints to become mature enough that they are able to feed directly from Jesus. Small children have to be spoon fed, but eventually they learn how to feed themselves, and eventually they learn how to find and prepare their own food. They don’t depend on, or demand, spoon feeding for their entire life. Sadly, this is not common in the body of Christ.

What we see all too often is that followers of Jesus are content to be spiritually spoon fed each week instead of digging into the bible, pursuing deeper intimacy with Jesus, and actually being equipped to fulfill their life’s purpose. Spoon feeding is easy. It requires no effort on the part of the receiver. This is why so many practices that don’t require any effort have become so popular. This is why people search for their identity in a test instead of in Jesus. This is why we have so many spiritually emaciated and powerless Christians. And this is why the world does not see the church as the answer. Some have even become so accustomed to being spoon fed that they will stop attending a church service when they feel like they are not being fed. But I would like to suggest that the spiritual feeding role within the church is primarily for young believers who need to be properly discipled. Once that is accomplished, they can function healthily within the body of Christ. This requires a major shift by the 5-fold ministry away from the current model of feel good sermons. We need to be training, equipping, and releasing believers into the call God has for their life.

The spoon feeding has to stop!!!

My advice for pastors is this: focus on equipping, so the people you pastor can fulfill the purpose and mission given to them by Jesus. This may require a major shift in the way your local church body functions and in the way you minister. But consider that if your model hasn’t been effective in actually advancing the Kingdom of God, it may be time to ask Jesus for a new model.

My advice for all believers is this: focus on being equipped, so you can go out and fulfill the purpose and mission given to you by Jesus. Consume the word of God. Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn to hear his voice. You were made to be in relationship with your creator.

If anything you just read hit a nerve in you, I suggest you pause and listen to what Jesus wants to speak to you right now. Because here’s the reality: unequipped believers will never be able to fulfill the purpose, role, and destiny that God created them to fulfill. The gospel is simple. Let’s not complicate it. Make disciples, train them to make more disciples, and represent the fullness of Jesus to the world.

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