My Pastor Isn’t Feeding Me? (by Jovan Barrington)

“I’m not getting fed spiritually.” (By Jovan Barrington, Senior Minister at Littleton Church of Christ, Denver, CO, who can be followed @JovanBarrington)

“My pastor isn’t feeding me.”

Maybe you have heard this before from someone who has left one church and is “shopping” for another or at the very least they are considering it. Maybe you have said this yourself. I believe that there can be some precedent for a comment such as this.  I also believe that if you were to ask someone else from the “spiritually malnourished” person’s church whether they were getting fed you may receive a different answer. There may be many reasons as to why two people from a congregation with the same pastor may answer differently but for the purpose of this article I will choose to focus on one.

In college I started attending a church service with some newly found friends. The service was much different than what I experienced in my religious heritage. For one thing, I had no idea what the casually dressed (shirt and tie but no robe!) “Minister” was monologuing about. Trust me when I say that it had nothing to do with his preparedness or logical flow of thought. He was well prepared and his delivery was polished. It was just way over my head. I really can’t say with certainty that I thought it was altogether his fault. I had yet to gain an informed opinion on how a preacher should craft his sermon to appeal to a broad audience with varying degrees of spiritual aptitude. He made some assumptions about the Biblical literacy of his audience and I fell way short of his assumptions. The tradition I was used to would have looked very strange and confusing to someone who was a first time guest and there wouldn’t have been much of an explanation as to why things were done the way they were. You just had to “catch-up” or “fake it till you make it.” I think I had some of an understanding of that dynamic.

There was one thing that I noticed rather quickly from observing the parish, no, congregants, wait, better yet – the brethren. Many of them engaged his preaching with their open Bibles. So that week I went out to Barnes and Noble and purchased a $6 gift Bible. This was a game changer.

The preacher was serving a delicious and fullfilling meal from God’s word each Sunday. There was no lack of food being delivered. If I didn’t get fed. He wasn’t the one to blame.

My youngest daughter is two years old and once a week I make breakfast. When I put those delicious pancakes in front of her she picks up her fork and she eats. When I started reading the word of God on my own it was like I showed up on Sunday with my eating utensils in hand and one of those lobster bibs – Mmmm, mmm. Do you know what happened next? His sermons started to make more sense. I could now reach the cookie jar on the top shelf and wanted more.

Your ability to be fed is not solely dependent on your pastor’s sermon content. This is an unfair expectation, “feed me pastor.” That just doesn’t sound quite right. Say that to your dinner host when you’re invited over. “Feed me.” Try it out on your server at Chili’s. “Feed me.”

Pick up your fork and feed yourself.

In actuality the pastor is breaking open the “bread of life.” Jesus is the Word and his food is spiritual food. God is the one who provides the ingredients for spiritual nourishment. Jesus is the host of the proverbial meal. Is your critique of your pastor really a lack of faith in God’s ability to fill you with his Spirit through the proclamation of his word?

God has an endless supply of bread.

When Jesus and his disciples fed thousands of hungry followers with bread and fish they distributed to the people “as much as they wanted.” AS MUCH AS THEY WANTED. There were even leftovers. Jesus, The Bread of Life, is still handing out bread and there are still plenty of leftovers.

Instead of saying, “I’m not getting spiritually fed. My pastor is not feeding me.” Ask yourself this question, “How much of Jesus’ bread am I wasting?”

Before the miraculous feeding Jesus twice gave thanks to the Father for the bread.

  • Give thanks for God’s provision and begin to engage your pastor’s sermons with a daily open Bible (this may require you to power up your tablet).
  • As you engage God’s word pray that it may fill you from the inside out and that Christ may be formed in your heart.
  • Listen to the word of God on your smart phone with YouVersion.
  • Subscribe to podcasts of your favorite preachers.

There is no shortage of food. How much do you want to eat?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.