Saturday, April 14, 2012

Are Utensils Provided? The Church Shopping Saga Continues: Are We Fed There? Part II

This post is one in a series about the adventure of finding a new church to attend after moving to a new town.  It began with Church is Not a Buffet and continued with Is It a Jesus-led Church? and The Church Shopping Saga Continues:  Are We Fed There? Part I.

In the previous post about being fed, I said at the end that there was another reason that we shouldn't depend on the church to feed us, and that reason is that we are a part of the church--and we don't eat ourselves.  We shouldn't rely on music or sermons to fill us.  When we put our need to be filled on other people, when we expect to be filled with those things--the music, the sermon, the fellowship, the prayers, the offering, the everything that happens in a worship service, we are not being filled with Jesus.  All of the experiences we have in church or Bible study should actually be our forks and spoons.  They are helpful in delivering the food to us, but those things are not the food.

Think about that for a minute.  Or more than a minute.  Take as long as you want, because I think it is something that is going to be difficult to wrap our brains around.  I think that our beliefs and what we often practice are at odds with each other when it comes to "being fed".

If we were attending a Bible study or even hearing a sermon about the following verses, we would probably nod along and agree with them.  Why would we disagree?  There's nothing terribly controversial here.
  • Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. --John 6:35
  • I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  --Ephesians 3:18-19
  • Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit,  as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts,  giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. --Ephesians 5:18-20
But what do these tell us about how we should be filled?  With the church? No!  We are the church.  We don't fill up on ourselves. We are to be filled with Jesus, we are to be filled with the fullness of God, we are to be filled with the Spirit!  Are our churches equipping us for that?

I am as guilty of substituting church stuff for Jesus as anyone.  I often judge a worship service or a Bible study by how much I get out of it.  I am happy when there is a song that I love or when I hear a sermon that is stimulating and informative.  There are particular styles of worship that I tend to prefer, although, because I have experienced so many I really can go along with any of them.

I guess, then, as I think about this particular qualification on choosing a church, instead of thinking of it as a place where I can be fed, I need to instead ask myself "are utensils provided?"

4 comments: said...

As a non-church attender (or believer), I think the trick is to find a place of worship where you want to use YOUR utensils to assure that the grand repast is complete and the symphony brings smiles to your face- involving the whole orchestra.

Kelly said...

You are right. It is very important for people to be able to use their gifts and abilities as well, and that'll be the topic of a future post in this series.

Handsfull said...

I know I'm coming to this very late (just found you courtesy of Joy in the journey!), but I have to comment!
For 10yrs I was at a church that fed me very well - the worship, sermons and children's programmes were all exactly what I needed and wanted. I learned a HUGE amount there, and grew a lot.
Then we moved. And there were only 2 churches in town, an Anglican/Presbyterian combination and a Catholic church that closed shortly after we moved here. So we've been at the A/P church for the last 4yrs. This is the first and only Anglican church I've ever been to, and nothing about it was familiar. The style of worship, the style of church service, the way they do communion, the children's programmes (there weren't any) the sermons... nothing was familiar. And for 4yrs I have been trying to fit in, searching for some crumb of spiritual food that I would find every couple of services, and being horrified at the lack of biblical knowledge or any form of teaching.
Finally, we felt it was time to move on. They are dying a slow death of old age, and are very unwilling to try anything that might interest other, younger people to join the congregation. I need my kids to know that they aren't the only children in the world who go to church on Sunday - that they are part of a great, big Christian family, who believe the same things they do... and I need some food. I need some actual teaching from people who have actually read the Bible and thought about it and dug deep into the word to get something to give to others.
I've been feeding myself through a home group and on-line stuff, but I desperately need to be part of a body of people again who talk the same language as me.
And now the kids are fighting and I have to go!
Glad I've found you, I'll be back :)

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Thanks for commenting! It is really hard to change churches, especially if you go to one that is very unfamiliar in style. I feel fortunate to have experienced so many different types, because I feel as if I can fit in to a variety of worship styles on a Sunday morning.

I also understand your need for food from people who have actually read the Bible and thought about it. I once left a church because the pastor got multiple sermons off of the internet and acted as if they were his own. This bothered me for many reasons, but one was that I believe when giving a sermon, one should spend a lot of time reading/studying/thinking about the text, and if one is just giving someone else's sermon, how does that happen?

As for fighting children, I know that well!