“I don’t feel that I’m being fed spiritually.” I’ve heard this several times from friends on why they are changing church. Maybe they don’t understand the preaching or the teaching in church doesn’t address their real needs and struggles. Maybe the music or the preaching, though spiritually nourishing, is not to their taste and style. Or maybe they feel they’ve heard it all before — eating familiar food feels like not having eaten at all. Or perhaps they don’t like the leadership or the church’s direction, or they don’t feel heard.
What does it mean to be spiritually fed? In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commissions his disciples to make disciples, baptising them in the name of the Trinity and teaching them to obey Jesus. In Acts 2:42, the early church did this by devoting themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. That’s how they were fed and they grew. They were fed on all of these, not on teaching alone. Hearing and studying God’s word is a key spiritual food, but it isn’t the complete diet.
But don’t we come to church to be fed? Yet if each of us needs to be fed by someone more spiritual than us, where will this chain stop? As spiritual infants, we should be fed and grounded in the basics of the faith, but the end goal is to learn to feed ourselves, to sit under God’s Word for ourselves and actively live it out. That’s what it means to grow up from spiritual infancy into spiritual adulthood. Then hearing God’s Word preached is no longer our only source of spiritual feeding but becomes supplementary to our own Bible study and reflection; it serves as a reminder and an alignment in how I live out God’s Word.
But how can we make disciples if we don’t first learn every detail about being a disciple and making disciples? Don’t we need to be fed first before we can go and feed others? Yes, but we first need to be fed by Jesus. We need to sit at Jesus’ feet ourselves to listen and learn from him. We need to be active apprentices to Jesus by going out and doing his work with him. Yes, it is important to have good, solid, gospel-based teaching and preaching. But feeling spiritually unfed is not a preacher-problem or a church-problem. It’s an each-of-us-problem. Each of us has a personal responsibility to know God, to have a relationship with him, to love him and serve him. This is not something that we can blame others for. Each of us has chosen to follow Jesus. Will we take on the responsibility of following him?