Read: Hebrews 5:11 – 6:20
Focus: You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Hebrews 5:12 – 6:1
I see a theme for people today where we tend to move around – whether it’s in relationships, jobs, “church hopping”, or some other area of life. I’ve watched over the years as friends have moved around through various churches, I’ve listened to their reasons, and I have some observations. If I look back to my own past and my own natural inclinations, I can also see some of these in myself.
Before going too far down this road though, let’s back up and consider what we think is important in choosing a church home in the first place. First of all, I believe that the Bible is clear in that every Christian needs to be part of a church if s/he is physically able to. For example in Hebrews 10:25 we are told: “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”
When new Christians or those interested in finding a new church ask me how to select a church home, I like to point them to an article on the InTouch website: How to Find a Church Home. In it, Charles Stanley basically gives three criteria people should use when selecting a church home: 1. Is the church doctrinally sound in the essential truths of Christianity (the article covers 8 essential truths every Bible-based church should adhere to)?, 2. Is the church building your faith and discipling you?, and 3. Is the church involved in mission-based ministries that give you the opportunity to serve?
Let’s assume that one has found a church that meets the criteria offered above. If a church doesn’t meet those criteria, I firmly believe that a believer should move on (quickly). As I said previously, I have observed in myself and others this tendency to be on the move, and I’ve basically seen two patterns emerge: 1. where one says it’s the churches’ fault that s/he moves around so much (I’m not being “fed” spiritually, I’m not welcomed, the people are too pushy, etc), and 2. where the believer takes responsibility for the move (I believe that it’s a good church but I really prefer a different kind of music to worship, I feel closer to God with a more or less formal structure, they offer a lot of service opportunities but I think God is leading me in this specific direction and this other church has an opening for service in this area, etc). In my observations, people in the later group tend to find a church home that works for them, helps them continue to mature and grow closer to God, and be satisfied. It’s the former group that I think sometimes has difficulty growing roots in a church home and reaching others in the way God has planned for them.
If your church is doctrinally sound, preaching Biblical truths, providing opportunities to build your faith and discipling you (grow groups, Bible studies, leadership opportunities, etc), and giving you opportunities to serve, then it IS providing you opportunities to be fed; whether you choose to be fed or not is up to you. As the author of Hebrews points out in today’s reading, there is a difference between how babies and adults are fed. Babies can’t do it themselves; they need to be fed milk. Adults however are mature; they have been trained, and should now have the skill to know the difference between right and wrong. Adults have moved on to solid food and should be feeding others. In other words, as an adult, yes you should be getting something from the sermons, but you also have the responsibility to feed yourself and to feed others who are children (new to the faith). How do you do this? You become personally committed to the mission of the church and take the personal responsibility to read your Bible everyday; you serve God by serving others. Your source of food is God’s Word; you need to read it, meditate on it, and apply what you read in order to be fed. You join grow groups and Bible studies so you can establish close relationships with other adults to hold each other accountable, pray for each other, work through challenging parts of the Bible together. You walk through Christian life together as adults, maturing and feeding yourselves and each other and helping each other to feed others outside of your group. To step outside of the food metaphor – you put into action the great commission Jesus gave to all of His disciples (which includes everyone who follows Him) in Matthew 28: 19 – 20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Prayer (borrowed from the prayer on the InTouch link): Father, how grateful I am for Your Word. Thank You for Your church, and the people who love and serve You daily. Thank You that You have put me in a vibrant, growing church. I pray that I may learn more about You and learn to serve You in new and wonderful ways. Help me to find my own place within the church so that I might bring You honor and glory. I ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.