Newsflash! Church is not a buffet, a dining hall, a mess hall, a restaurant, or the dinner table such as most of us have at our home. Yes, some have cafes and some have periodic potluck or community dinners (often used to raise some money for something church related). I hear people say, “I go to church to get fed” and, frankly, it makes me cringe. It makes me think of a field where a horse might be leisurely chowing down on grass, or a barnyard where the cows are getting fed their hay, or a muddy mess where the pig slop is tossed so the pigs can devour their delicious goodies. I’m getting fed!
Hey, I’m not being judgmental of those who say they are going to church to get fed, because I have said it all too often in the past. It made me feel good to think that I was going to church to get “spiritually fed”. I felt that was my purpose for going—to let someone else feed me (spiritually) because I sure wasn’t doing it myself—because I was, to be real, too spiritually lazy! I wasn’t enlightened, and neither are those who say it, in my opinion.
It Took a While
It took a while for me to realize just why I was going to church (besides the community it afforded, the worship & praise, and, yes, the teachings). I slowly discovered several important things that affected my walk exponentially, and I offer them here for those of you who may still think that you are going to church on Sunday to “get fed”:
It’s impossible for a pastor, in the time allotted him for his message to on his own, even come close to offering enough words of wisdom, fact, and scripture to fill anyone up.
They can, and generally do, give enough of an overview on a given subject to whet the listeners appetite for more knowledge. They give the Cliff Notes, so to speak.
I came to realize that what I heard on any given Sunday opened the door for me to realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know until it was pointed out through a message.
That put the onus on me to delve into the message subject a bit deeper, on my own, to fill in the missing gaps.
Those two things combined to make me realize that growing spiritually was not something that I should be doing alone, which drew me into belonging in a small group through which collective discussions, opinions, and sharing afforded me with a broad picture of the life applications relative to any given subject. Another important aspect of group life is the depth of the relationships that naturally form because of a solid group.
It’s important to realize that it takes a while for a healthy small group to gel, but when it does, Katie bar the door—it will be a great experience.
I simply learned, graphically and convincingly, that I got spiritually fed, not by going to church for an hour on any given Sunday, but through the desire to dive in deeper as a result of that hour on Sunday.
Nowhere in the bible do we hear anything about church and getting fed. What we do see, through some God inspired modeling, is group life. The twelve (whom He called Apostles) disciples are probably the prime example.
The Twelve Apostles
In closing, why not go to church, not to get fed, but because you want to, you crave it, so you can worship and praise our God and thank Him. So you can mingle with friends. So you can hear a message that will touch your heart and mind and cause you to dive into it further so that you can learn more about yourself and how the subject relates to your life. So you can confess, take the elements, and, yes, give. So you can go there with the anticipation that during that time your heart and mind will become present to the presence of the Holy Spirit, and you will be moved in whatever direction He pushes you to.
No, it’s not a buffet where you go to eat, where you get fed. It’s much, much more…but that depends on you.