"He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters" Psalm 23:2 (KJV)
"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you"
1 Peter 5:2
"I'm done with church because I'm not getting fed!"
I've heard this over and over again, and it runs completely opposite of Hebrews "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is."
This line of thought, "I'm done with church”, appears to be taking on a head of steam. The early church, however, faced this same situation proving, "there's nothing new under the sun" Ecc. 1:9.
The reasons Christians abandon church participation and attendance are too numerous to cover in one short post. For brevity's sake, I'll comment only on what seems to be the most popular and prevalent excuse d'jour...diet, or a lack thereof. This begs the question, "Why are you starving yourself?"
The Twenty-third Psalm beautifully depicts Jesus in His role as our Good Shepherd. Verse two portrays the luscious venues of food and drink He provides for His flock. Absent in this psalm, and in sheep husbandry as a whole, is the notion that under normal circumstances the shepherd is responsible to spoon or force feed the sheep. He leads them to pasture and water; it's their choice to eat, drink or go without. If one isn't getting fed spiritually speaking, who's fault is it?
Now before you get too upset consider this - who has been charged to shepherd the local flock? If you guessed the Pastor, according to 1 Peter 5:1, you're mistaken.
"The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder..."
In Peter's opinion the elders, not just the Pastor were to care for the assembly.
The word elder used here means not only those who serve in an official capacity, but also those older and more mature in the Lord believers. In Hebrew there is no word for retire so none of us gets to sit back and coast. The Pastor's role isn't to provide a week's worth of spiritual nourishment in one sitting, but to introduce a portion of God's Word to consider. It's the individual's responsibility to dig in and receive revelation and insight. Sermons/teachings are springboards to propel one deeper into the things of God. It's wonderful to get a taste of someone else's understanding, but if you only nibble there and go no further, you'll starve.
Taking time to delve into God's Word isn't only for one's personal benefit. Developing maturity takes seat time (a term stock market traders use for experience) with God, His ways and His Word. The interaction of fellow brothers and sisters, at all levels of growth and development, helps keep the local flock from getting fleeced and slaughtered. Many shepherds keeping watch raises the level of safety exponentially.
How about you? If you're frustrated about the level of spiritual content from the pulpit, what are you doing to avoid starvation? As you grow in seniority and maturity in the Lord, how are you participating in managing the local flock? If you're not part of a congregation, what steps are you taking to maintain not only your own spiritual growth and development, but also that of the younger, newer lambs of the Good Shepherd's flock?
p.s. Those who know me will understand the significance of the peas on the plate. This is a meal I'd voluntarily skip.