“I’m just not being fed.”
“I need more solid meat.”
“I want to go find a church where I can be fed.”
Those are all phrases used by Christians today. A few of these I’ve even heard personally as a pastor. These are reasons people give for leaving one church and going to another. They don’t feel like the teaching is deep enough, strong enough or captivating enough for their spiritual diet. They need more. They want to be fed. On one level, those reasons have a valid point behind them: preaching matters, and good preaching is preaching that not only captures the attention but delivers solid biblical content. Preachers need to preach solid meat, not just surface level milk.
But I would argue that this entire line of reasoning for leaving a church and searching for a new one is off base. When you say “I’m not being fed,” you’re making your departure someone else’s fault, someone else’s responsibility. “Being fed” is passive, which means you don’t take ownership or responsibility. I was reminded of this recently not because of a conversation. This blog post isn’t aimed at anyone specifically.
But reading through John 4, Jesus actually tells his disciples what his “food” is. For us as his followers, our ears should perk up. Jesus is about to tell us how he’s spiritually fed. If it’s how he’s fed, then it naturally follows it’s how we should be fed as well. And it has nothing do to with good sermons or even deeper Bible study. What Jesus says should take the “I’m just not being fed” excuse and throw it out the window.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34
Jesus’ spiritual food wasn’t to sit passively and receive but to be active, roll up his sleeves, and finish the work God sent him to do. Being spiritually fed (according to Jesus, at least) isn’t about sitting and hearing but by getting up and doing. So if you’re not being fed, instead of putting the responsibility on the preacher, and instead of even trying to dig deeper into personal Bible study, why don’t you get up and start serving in meaningful ways in your church? You’ll discover that spiritual nourishment comes through serving, not sitting. But too many of us don’t want that. We want to soak, not serve.
The way many of us approach church is like a cruise ship. When you walk on board a cruise ship, you expect to be entertained, you expect good food and good service, you expect leisure. If you don’t get that, if the service is bad, if the entertainment is not entertaining enough, you go find another cruise ship.
But I think a better metaphor is to approach church like a battleship. When you walk on board, the expectation isn’t to sit but to serve. You realize you’re part of a greater mission, and your mindset is to find a way to contribute however you can. If you complain on a battleship, it’s not because the food is bad or because there’s no entertainment. A valid complaint on a battleship would be that there’s no meaningful way for you to serve.
If you’re not “being fed” at your church, maybe you’re approaching church wrong.