Dear Pastor, Please Feed Us.

Dear Pastor, Please Feed Us. May 9, 2024

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Dear Pastor, Please Feed Us: 5 Teaching Habits That Starve God’s People

A primary role of a shepherd is to feed his flock. This involves leading them to good pastures to graze. When the flock isn’t properly nourished, bad things can happen. The sheep may suffer needlessly from hunger or they may wander off and consume harmful substances.

Similar outcomes happen when a congregation isn’t adequately nourished. As a shepherd, or pastor, your job is to help us grow in our faith, and become more like Christ. However, there are certain teaching habits that can hinder our growth and prevent us from fully embracing God’s plan for our lives.

In this post, we’ll explore five such habits and understand how they can be detrimental to God’s people. By recognizing and addressing these patterns, we can strive towards a more fulfilling and transformative spiritual journey. So, without further ado, here are 5 teaching habits that starve the body of Christ.

1. Man-Centered Teachings

Man-centered teaching occurs when a preacher centers their message primarily around our abilities, concerns, and goals rather than around God and his Word. The message may excessively reference human experiences, achievements, struggles, or desires in an effort to relate to the congregation. However, this shifts the focus away from God and onto us. Examples include messages focused on “you,” “your,” “we,” and “us,” telling numerous personal stories, or even making us the hero of the biblical narratives being preached.

For instance, I recall an influential pastor who once preached a message trying to convince his congregation that Jesus didn’t feed the 5000, but his disciples did, focusing on human potential rather than God’s power and provision. While some personal connection can help, self-focused preaching often excludes real biblical teaching. These teachings are detrimental because they can feed our ego and pride, and fail to glorify God. They also fail to spiritually nourish the congregation, as we need to hear God’s truth, not how great and mighty we can become or how pathetic and jacked up we are. 

Instead, pastors should point people to Jesus and to God. They should prayerfully study and proclaim the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit, allowing Scripture to speak. While they could and should share encouraging applications, the focus should remain on biblically-rooted teaching that equips the congregation to follow Christ—not their personal goals or their happiness. And by the way, a few verses sprinkled into a message to support one’s viewpoint doesn’t count. Teach the Word. With humility and sincerity, we must decrease and let the Lord increase. 

2. Man-Made Teachings 

Man-made teaching is when a preacher delivers a sermon based on their own opinions, ideas, and agendas rather than being led by the Spirit and preaching the pure Word of God. Examples include preaching feel-good messages to please people rather than convict them, using the pulpit to promote personal or political agendas, twisting Scripture to support false doctrines, and relying on legalistic rules that fail to transform hearts, rather than on biblical Scripture. 

This type of teaching is what leads to spiritual immaturity and is extremely detrimental because it leads people astray. It creates believers who feel good but are not transformed. Additionally, it causes confusion and division within the church, and ultimately, it dishonors God because it elevates man’s word above his. Yeshua quoted Isaiah in Matthew 15:8-9 saying,“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” (NIV) (see also Is. 29:13). 

There’s nothing new under the sun. What has been done will be done again. It’s not history that repeats itself—human behavior does. Once again, we have gone astray and we desperately need preachers who submit to the authority of God, who pray for wisdom and discernment, and who are filled with spiritual power, not personal charm. We need people who seek only to glorify Christ in all that they do, who are humble servants, not seeking to impress or make a name for themselves. Only through God’s truth can lives be transformed. The church desperately needs a return to biblical preaching that submits to the Word of God rather than man’s doctrines.

3. Milk-Only Teachings 

There should come a time when we move beyond elementary teachings, such as an obsessive focus on sin, hell, and repentance. While these foundational topics serve a purpose for new believers, an excessive preoccupation with them can stunt spiritual growth. By fixating only on salvation from damnation, we miss the grand narrative of Scripture and God’s vision for how we are to live. 

Some teachings tend to dwell so much on sin and the consequences of our actions, that they leave little room for godly instruction. An intimate relationship with Christ involves so much more than securing a “get out of hell free” card. As believers, we need to strike a balance between acknowledging our shortcomings and embracing God’s forgiveness and love. This can only happen when we know the truth. But, how can we know the truth if we don’t hear it? And how can we hear it without someone proclaiming it to us?

In the past, I remember watching YouTube sermons for hours each day and spending all Sunday in church, so hungry for truth, until one day I realized I wasn’t doing it just because I enjoyed it, but because I was starving. Most of the teachings were shallow or repeated, and nothing was filling me up.

Believers often experience this because remaining as infants in Christ isn’t normal. We are meant to grow, and that occurs only when we get adequate nutrition. In other words, grown folks need grown-folk’s food. My anger would be unquenchable if someone tried to serve me a baby’s bottle when I’m looking for meat and potatoes. Likewise, at some point, we should transition from milk to solid food, spiritually speaking. 

Both young and mature believers hunger for deeper wisdom found in God’s Word. They’re not just looking for something to wet their tongues. There’s so much more to know about God and his desire for his creation to stay zeroed-in on these basic teachings. There are rich spiritual truths and practical instructions for righteous living throughout the Old and New Testaments which reveal God’s character and can shape us into the people he desires us to become. However, they’re no good to us if we’re unaware of them.

While conviction is an essential part of spiritual growth, an excessive focus on guilt and condemnation can hinder our progress. Spiritual growth arises not from obsessing over past mistakes, but from pressing forward in the transforming grace and knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. By emphasizing the power of God’s grace, believers can be inspired to grow in their faith and experience true freedom.

4. Lazy Teachings  

Lazy teaching involves coasting on centuries-old interpretations rather than doing the hard work of wrestling with Scripture. True discipleship requires rolling up your sleeves, praying, meditating, and studying to grasp the heart of God’s Word. It’s not enough to stand before a congregation with a 500-year old commentary. That’s like trying to understand the internet by reading research from the 1960s. We now know things they didn’t know then, because our knowledge base has expanded.

Likewise, God’s Word is living and active. Though his Word doesn’t change, it requires fresh engagement. Unfortunately, many pastors lack the time, willingness, or calling to go deep. Also, it’s easier to rely on another’s light, than to start your own fire. But if you aren’t plunging into the text yourself, you end up parroting, or repeating, cliches. Worse, you risk misleading others if the information is incorrect. 

This is why discipleship takes time and isn’t for everyone, despite what many believe. It requires leaving things behind to seek God’s face. That’s why Jesus said that if anyone was unwilling to prioritize him and to part with some things, they couldn’t be his disciple (Lk. 14:26; Lk. 14:33). He wasn’t testing their faith with hypothetical situations — he was presenting them with the reality that, although salvation is a gift, discipleship has a cost. There is no “maybe” involved, despite our attempts to soften his words. 

As in Jesus’s day, disciples should eventually become teachers and leaders. Take this how you want, but if someone doesn’t have the time or is unwilling to put in the effort to do the digging, then they have no business being a pastor, teacher, or preacher. There’s too much at stake. Teaching demands humility, selflessness, and rigorous devotion. It should not be approached lightly.

That being said, even the most dedicated teachers see through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12). They grasp only fragments of infinite truth. As a result, they won’t always be on point, but they put forth their best effort. But pastors who refuse to do the work, set their congregations up for a fall. As servants of God, they should strive to present his Word accurately, attempting to understand the historical and cultural context of the Scriptures for themselves, and not simply rely on someone else’s thoughts. By doing so, they can better align their teachings with God’s intended message and facilitate spiritual growth among believers.

5. Hyper-Spiritual Teachings

I’ve witnessed church services where the pastor didn’t preach, but the congregation danced, shouted, and spoke in tongues for an hour straight. I used to feel ashamed for feeling upset about it because I lacked understanding. I felt it was disrespectful to oppose a “move of God.” However, I was famished and yearned for a meal. Unfortunately, I remained unfed.

While the supernatural parts of the Bible, like miracles, healings, and speaking in tongues, can be exciting and grab people’s attention, some pastors focus too heavily on these elements at the expense of communicating the deeper truths of God. This unbalanced approach leaves many believers without a solid foundation in who God is and what he’s actually called them to do in this world. 

In their zeal for the supernatural, these pastors appeal to people’s desires for emotional highs and miraculous signs, but they fail to mold believers into followers of Christ who understand his will and character. Mature believers realize this world is not their home and are less preoccupied with chasing supernatural experiences and healings. Instead, they focus on living out God’s values of love, justice, mercy, and service in their everyday lives. This is what God wants.

Therefore, pastors should nurture spiritual growth rather than whip people into a constant frenzy, seeking miracles and ecstatic experiences. Teaching that leads people to know God more deeply and follow his ways more closely, should take priority over promises of supernatural power and events. While the supernatural has its place, pastors should be careful not to overemphasize it at the cost of communicating the fullness of who God is, and what it means to live as his faithful children day to day.


Many pastors today fail to properly feed their congregations spiritually. Rather than taking the time to instill in the people a deep understanding of God’s character and commandments, they consistently offer a superficial message with a sinner’s prayer, and declare their job done. Additionally, while some preach ferociously against such so-called “easy believism,” their own teaching often amounts to little more than man-made doctrines and rigid rules. As a result, biblical knowledge is sorely lacking in Christianity today. 

The flocks aren’t being fed the true bread of life or led to the waters that satisfy. Congregations starve for lack of authentic scriptural teaching and instead of acknowledging our collective failure and taking steps to remedy the problem, we waste energy inventing doctrines to critique and we cast blame on each other, to hide from the painful truth that current teaching falls desperately short. 

Until pastors and preachers commit to thoroughly instructing their followers in God’s truths, and equipping them to live accordingly, the lives of many believers will remain stagnant and fruitless. This negatively affects the entire body. Therefore, it’s time to return to the purity and sincerity of God’s Word, if the body of Christ is to be made strong. It’s time to teach the Word of God. As the Lord once told Peter after he fed the disciples breakfast, if you love him, feed his sheep (Jn. 21:15-22).

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