Growing pains – part 3

“Leaving a church because you’re not ‘being fed’ is a sign of spiritual immaturity.”

This might be true. Or false.

I once had a conversation with a person who headed both children’s and women’s ministry in her mid-sized church. Sunday mornings, she circled through the church like an electron in an atomic accelerator, overseeing children’s programming. The rest of the week, she divided her time equally between organizing curriculum, recruiting volunteers, planning women’s events, arranging mentoring relationships, and constantly communicating with her sub-leaders about plans and vision. “When is the last time you sat through a church service here?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m a self-feeder,” she laughed. “I haven’t attended an entire church service here in years!” Of course, she could listen to the pastor’s message on CD later if she so chose. (But that isn’t really the point, and neither is her motivation in being so darn indespendible.)

Her comment stuck with me, because church – the image most of us conjure when we first hear the word, anyway – is that thing we do on Sunday morning. When we say “I’m not getting fed at my church”, we’re usually saying “The sermons are missing the mark for me”. Or we might be saying “The music to which I’m supposed to be worshipping stinks.” Some of us might even be saying, “The other stuff we do in a church service has become rote and meaningless for me.”

Even though I found the actions of this woman’s/children’s pastor extremely troubling, I found a bit of spiritual truth in her words. Spiritual maturity means that we learn to become self-feeders. Or, to put it another way, we learn to feed deeply on God, rather than being fed by others. As we do, we form a different kind of relationship with a Sunday morning church service – particularly those of us who attend churches where the sermon, rather than communion, is the centerpiece of the Sunday morning worship service.

So if we become “self-feeders”, then those other things about a congregation (the stuff that happens the other 167 hours of the week) change priority, don’t they?
Is it possible to outgrow a congregation if you’re a self-feeder?

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