Yesterday I wrote about the problem when people don’t feel fed in church. I highlighted that 30-40 years ago, many churches would have provided quite a programme in the week for teaching including services, adult Sunday schools and midweek ministry. Given that feeding has a wider dimension than just intellectual content, we might add to that list missionary meetings and prayer meetings.
I don’t propose a return to those days, the method of provision belongs to a past era but I do think it is right to stop and ask whether or not we are providing all the food necessary if we are elders in the church and whether or not we are engaging with all the provision available if we are part of the church family, especially if we are among those saying that we do not feel fed.
It is also worth noting at this point that there can be other reasons why someone says that they do not feel fed.
- First of all, if someone does not feel loved and safe within the church, then no matter how much teaching content there is, they will not feel that they are being fed.
- Secondly expectations may be measured against what they perceive to be available elsewhere. This may include envy of the calibre of teaching and preaching in other, larger, more well-known churches. It may also include a kind of craving for spiritual junk food too.
- Thirdly, it may be a stylistic choice, they may not like the way that the food is presented.
- Fourthly, I think sometimes people will not realise that they are being fed because they only associate that with upfront teaching and so they may not realise that one to one conversations, including informal chats, or being asked to get involved in practical ministry are also part of being fed.
- Fifthly they may feel that they are not growing. Whilst this can be from a lack of food, it is not always the case. Sometimes it is because there are other factors that need to be addressed in their own life. Sometimes they are growing but do not feel like it.
Now, remember that all the Bible says is that elders should ensure the sheep are fed. There is no prescription about how we do it. So, all I am going to say next is about wisdom choices. However, assuming that the three reasons above don’t apply, then we do genuinely want to think about how we are providing in terms of food.
Here are some of the ways in which we seek to provide food so that our church family are well fed.
- In addition to the Sunday morning services, we provide an interactive café style church meeting with physical food on Sunday night. As well as providing an opportunity for those who can’t meet on a Sunday morning, this also provides space for those who want to come back for further teaching enabling them to dig deeper into God’s word.
- Online resources including Faithroots teaching material. We are now adding Youtube and Facebook content.
- We have provided Saturday morning workshops to help people think through topics Biblically.
- Home groups provide another opportunity to gather around God’s Word.
Those are examples of formal provision but also a lot happens informally. Elders and their families should provide a visual example of what it means to follow Jesus. Informal conversations, hospitality and intentional pastoral care also provide opportunities to help people apply God’s word to their lives.
Having said that, we will still get people on a regular basis who say that they don’t feel fed. I think it is right in such situations that both we as church leaders and those raising the concern take it seriously and take time to consider why that is so and what we can do about it.