I will resist the impulse ahead of time to apologize for this post. But it has been awhile since I've done a rant and rave. I kind of felt one was overdue and I had a conversation that launched this rant and rave. If it hits a nerve... great... This post is dedicated to preachers and teachers everywhere!
"I'm not being fed!"
How many times has that phrase been uttered by a multitude of voices?
It is babies or small children who can't yet feed themselves.
Now get this image in your mind. Imagine an adult sitting there saying, "feed me." And someone is spooning the food in to their mouth.
Now transfer this very image to the church, whenever you hear a Christian saying, "feed me."
Here is the dark secret that very few Christians will admit to.
They don't know how to feed themselves! Here is what I mean, I'll break it down into some more meaningful categories.
Most Christians don't know how or are unwilling to do serious self-assessment. They don't know how to go about the process of self-discovery, self-awareness, self-insight about who they really are, what is really going on inside them.
Most Christians don't know how to spiritually reflect on the Scripture in ways that they actually discern the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit, guiding them into truth. We have been tricked into thinking that reading lots of chapters does this, or that inductive Bible study does. In fact, neither of those approaches to the Scripture do what I am talking about. They do other useful things, but they are not essentially transformative of one's life. For that matter, non-reflective reading barely scratches the surface of an existing worldview, much less challenges it to the core.
Most Christians won't admit how unsatisfying their devotional times of reading the Bible are and that they eventually stop reading it.
Most Christians don't know how the transformational processes work, so they don't engage in them. They expect transformation to, hmmm, well, just happen to them. Like they show up and something magical takes place and they are transformed. By the way, the less work they have to do for transformation, the better.
And their criteria as to whether they have been fed is really deficient. Their assessment standard is this: Did I learn something new? Did I get a different idea or piece of information that I previously didn't know. If they did, they feel they were fed. If they didn't, they feel they weren't.
And I'd like to argue exactly the opposite. The danger is that if they heard a piece of new information, they aren't fed at all. They are merely exposed to a new idea and they have the illusion of understanding it when at best, they are familiarity with it, not intimacy with that knowledge.
Here is a second phrase that often goes hand in hand with, "I'm not being fed."
I want "deep teaching."
Come on, give me a break (again, borrowing from the master). There is no such thing as deep teaching.
- There is complicated and simple teaching.
- There is biblical and unbiblical teaching.
- There is topical and exegetical teaching.
- There is practical and theoretical teaching.
- There is propositional and narrative teaching.
I could go on with many adjectives that can be legitimately used.
But there is no such thing as "deep teaching." Deep is not a qualifier of teaching. it is a qualifier of receiving.
And the tragedy continues, for most followers of Jesus are not deep receivers. They are shallow receivers.
To become a Deep Receiver, you need to gather up what you have heard, reflect on it, consider its implication in your life, examine where you experience (or don't) the reality of what was talked about, pay attention to resistance you have, and determine ways to implement what you have received into your real life.
If you do these things - then you are a Deep Receive and whether you hear a simple or complex message, you are deeply receiving… and being fed!
Fail to do this, and the most amazing, anointed message that is profoundly explaining the mysteries of God in practical ways - well it has fallen into rocky soil, remained shallow, not taken root and quickly dies.
Here are five simple truths that could use some Deep Receiving on our parts:
God is love.
Grace is daily.
Love others deeply.
Walk humbly with God.
Trust God in the dark times.
Here is to Deep Receivers and Self-Feeders. May their tribe increase.
And perhaps the real work of leadership is to help people become such...
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International