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Why Feeding People Spiritually Isn’t Always A Great Idea for the Church

There seems to be a new catchphrase in ChurchWorld for people who are disenchanted with their church: “I’m just not being fed there”. As someone who talks with people who go to tons of different churches (and are often leaving them), I hear it all the time.

As a pastor, and hearing it as often as I do, it’s tempting to make New Story a church that does all it can to make spiritually feeding our people our number one priority. But what if that actually hurts the people we claim to love?

Imagine you and I sitting at a restaurant eating dinner when my mom shows up. She grabs a fork, puts some of my dinner on it, and brings it to my mouth while saying, “Little Scotty, open up for the airplane” and then proceeds to feed me. You’d think both my mom and I had lost our minds. Why? Because I’m grown and should be able to feed myself.

It’s no different with church. A church’s main goal should not be to feed people, but to teach people how to feed themselves. Here’s what I mean: Of course, there are going to be times when, as a church, we must spiritually feed people. This will almost always be when they are very young in the faith, have been really hurt by church, or are completely lost and searching for direction. In times like these, it’s important to spoon feed people if necessary. But that can’t go on forever.

At New Story, we like to picture our church this way: You’re sitting at a table with great friends. Everyone is passing around different dishes of food and talking about them. Why they like them, what ingredients are in them, and how the food has changed their life. They might even be encouraging you to try it. But they aren’t forcing it down your throat. They let you try things, eat at your own pace, and feed yourself.

Our goal at New Story has always been to teach people how to pray, read the Bible, serve others, lead in a Christian way, and more. That way, wherever we are, whether in a church on Sunday morning or in remote Siberia, we can have an effective spiritual life. If we’re always depending on a church to “be fed”, then we’ll never grow spiritually and constantly be depending on others for the depth of our relationship with God. Once we have learned to feed ourselves, our God given responsibility is to help others learn the same thing (or even feed them when necessary). This prevents us from ever having the devilish attitude that says, “It’s all about me”.

Have we always done a great job at New Story of teaching people to feed themselves? No, we have not. And that is on me as the pastor. But we are fixing that. We are creating an incredible discipleship plan that we will unveil over the next couple of months. One filled with classes and experiences that will teach people how to be closer to God and lead really meaningful lives. We’d love for you to pray for us as we embark on this part of our journey as a church. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them. You can reach me at here.

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