Friends,

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me from around the comment threads, I’m Joe C!  It’s really great to be helping out here on CRN.info and sharing what God is teaching me in my life with you all.  I appreciate the opportunity Chris L and the other contributors have given me here.  Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”, and this is what I’m truly praying God can accomplish through me by writing for this site. 

Very quickly, a little information about me:  I’m a 20-something Sergeant in the Air Force, stationed in Oklahoma with my wife and 9 month old son.  I lead a Bible Study focused on making disciple-makers (lol) on Friday nights at my house.  I also help lead praise and worship at our local chapel congregation, and I’ll be teaching Sunday school starting in a few weeks.  I’ve probably been a Christian for the least amount of time out of all the contributors on this site (so go easy on me!), and I grew up Atheist.  I was saved when I came in to the military and started attending military chapel services.  Ironically, it was the openness of the worship team at one of the chapels that put me in the position to hear and believe the Gospel.  They allowed me to play piano for them, without even knowing if I was a Christian or not (I wasn’t, really).  Now normally most of us would never allow a non-Christian to play worship music for a Christian worship service, and to this day I have no idea why they allowed me to play for them.  But, it was through playing all of these Christian worship songs, and hearing the Chaplain preach, that I heard the Gospel and came to know Christ as the Savior that He is.  So I thought that could be a quick lesson to teach us all that God uses the most interesting circumstances to reach out to us.  Alright! Well enough about me…

On to the actual purpose found in the title of this post!

You Need Solid Food, Not Milk

 
I’ve overheard and participated in many conversations over the years concerning milk and solid food, as it pertains to the Bible and to Christian living.  Recently the subject has been brought up in a few comment threads here on CRN.info, so I did a Bible study this week on the subject and I’d like to share it with everyone. 

I’ve seen many different positions taken up by godly men and women, so I don’t claim to have the authoritative teaching on the subject.  I’m just trying to share my thoughts from what I’ve seen in Scripture about this subject and also in the natural world which I think reveals a lot about God’s plan for our Christian lives, metaphorically speaking.  If anyone has anything they think I’ve totally jacked up or if anyone has anything to add, please feel free to let me know, and we’ll talk about it.   I’m on the same journey of learning more and more about Christ as anyone else is :)

Hebrews 5: 11-14:
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Looking at this section of Hebrews chapter 5 you can kind of emote with the writer, how many of us have been in this frustrating position before?  Here the writer is speaking about all these deep theological teachings to the “Hebrews”, and then…STOP.  Wait.  Switch gears.  It’s like carrying on a long conversation with someone and then just stopping and saying, “You know what?  I could keep talking but you ain’t getting it pal…”

The writer then breaks in to commenting on how they’re not getting it because despite where they should be, they can’t be there because they’re still just infants in their faith.  They need milk, not the big boy and big girl food.  This is a failure of this church body on all sides, and I’ll get more in to why that is later.  Let’s first define some terms here.

Milk

Milk can be described in a few ways.  One, milk is a very basic, easy to stomach liquid that requires almost no effort on the drinker’s part to take in to them.  All they have to do is swallow the milk.  The diet of an infant consists mostly of milk, because an infant can’t handle anything more complicated.  Spiritual milk for the Christian is the basic teachings of our faith, the fundamentals, and every baby needs the basic essentials after all.  Two, an infant requires someone to feed the milk to them in some fashion; this lessens the load on the infant even more, making it easier for the milk to get in them.  Three, milk is the springboard in to higher levels of food, without it, the infant never matures to the point of learning how to eat solid food. I want to look at a few verses here in the New Testament that deal with spiritual ‘milk’ for the Christian.

In 1 Peter 2: 2-3 we have a statement from Peter that is something to the effect of “Like infants scream for mom’s milk, you should be screaming for God’s Truth.”  And then he says “since you’ve tasted that God is good.”  There’s a funny thing about verse 3 and the metaphorical truth as it applies to life.  Before my son was born my wife and I had long decided that if possible she would breast feed.  Well the time came and sure enough everything worked just fine and the kid figured it out (thank God).  Well one evening when he was about two months old my wife and I really wanted to go out on a date, just the two of us.  So we left our son with close family friends and went off to our little slice of freedom :) .  My wife had left bottled breast milk for our son to be fed at the appropriate times, but unfortunately the babysitters ran out and my son was still screaming for more.  So being the responsible adults that they were, they decided to give him some of their youngest daughter’s baby formula. This did not go over well with him, to say the least. You see my son had tasted the real deal for too long and knew that it tasted good.  This new stuff tasted funny to him and he didn’t like it nor did he want it.  Needless to say our date ended early, but the point is that once you taste God, once you have that first saving grace experience with the Living God, there’s just nothing else that will do.  And this is the point that Peter is trying to make here.  Crave God, crave His Word, just like a little child screams for milk, because you’ve tasted Him and you know He’s good, this ‘other’ stuff just isn’t going to suffice.  The other point Peter makes is that through this ‘pure milk of the Word’, we grow up in to our salvation, which seems to be a huge theme for Peter in his two letters of the Bible.  However, milk is very basic, very simple, so can we live off just milk forever?  Will that grow us in to full adults in Christ and sustain us at all ends?  We’ll talk more about that in a second; let’s hit another verse shall we?

1 Cor. 3: 1-3 shows us Paul being put in a shaky situation similar to the one the writer of Hebrews is in, as mentioned at the beginning of this post.  He’s come to the point of frustration in addressing a few important subjects.  He claims to have been unable to feed them anything but milk the first time he came to them, because they weren’t ready for anything else, and even at the time he was writing this letter to them they were still not ready for anything but milk.  They were infants, or at least some of them were.  And how were they acting?  Like big babies.  They were quarrelling, being jealous of one another, fighting with one another, and doing other immature things that are mentioned elsewhere in the letter.  Basically, they were damaging the local body of believers around them, and ultimately the Body of Christ.  Think about this:  as amazing as it is for a baby to be born, for life to be given, and the joy of having a new life around you, it’s hard work.  Babies, especially once they start moving around a lot, are inherently destructive and difficult to wrangle.  They’re also not much good in the department of helping you out with the house or other things.  They cause a lot of problems, and man you love them to death, but they’re just plain damaging to your household :)    In the same way, these Christians being addressed here are acting like babies; they can only take in milk, only the simple teachings of Christ.  The result of them being like this is the destruction they are causing.  Paul is not happy with this and it’s apparent by how the rest of the letter goes that he wants them to GROW UP!  But how can that happen?  OK, it’s time to have a segue in this little shin-dig!

Solid Food


You can’t drink milk forever.  In order to grow up and mature, an infant must become a child, and a child must become an adult.  The raw materials necessary to affect this change can’t come from only milk; more complex foods must be introduced to fuel this transformation.  Solid food must be given to the young one, and then they must be taught how to feed themselves if they are to survive at all.  Anyone who still lives on milk, like the writer of Hebrews says, is obviously still an infant.  Solid food can be thought of in a few ways from Scripture and practical application.  One, solid food is complex, deep, and requires a more mature and ready ‘stomach’ to handle.  It is the deeper teachings of the Christian faith; the things that help us grow up even more in to our salvation and bring us from infancy to maturity.  They are the things that hopefully will transform us in to being more and more like Jesus, and more effective for Him in this world we live in.  Without solid food this transformation cannot happen.  Two, as a child grows they begin not only to have these more complicated foods, but they begin to learn to feed themselves as well.  Anyone will tell you that this step is a normal and necessary step in the development of a child, so why not Christians?  This is the other aspect of what it means to have solid food: self feeding.  When you grow up in to an adult most of your food primarily comes from you ‘hunting’ down the food, cooking it, feeding it to yourself, chewing on it, digesting it, and then getting it back out of you (do the rough metaphor yourself lol).  Christians need to do this very thing.  We need to seek out the solid food of the Word, get it in to our spiritual mouths, and chew on it. This means we must think long and hard on it, meditate on it day and night (Josh 1:8), and hide it in our hearts (Ps. 119:11).  We must let it become part of us as we ‘digest it’ in to ourselves, letting God’s Truth permeate us and become part of our very being, putting it in to practice, putting it in to “constant use”.  This is the step we need to make, from milk to solid food, from babe to adult.  If we just let someone else always teach us, then even if it is ‘solid food’ in the ‘deeper spiritual truths’ sense of the phrase, it’s still basically milk, i.e. spoon feeding.  What happens when we learn to feed ourselves and mature in to adult Christians?  I think these verses speak greatly to this question:

Ephesians 4:11-15
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

God gave out different gifts in the Church, so that we could get each other ready for the work that God has prepared for us to do.  By doing this, Christians become more mature, gaining unity in the Son of God and knowledge of the Son of God, and we reach our full potential here on Earth in Christ.  All of this is going on, this maturing, this gaining of knowledge of Jesus, and you know what? Now we’re no longer these little infants who get bashed around by every stupid thing someone says to us, and we’re no longer being those little ineffective and sometimes destructive babies who aren’t any good for practical work in the household.  No, now we get to grow up to be like the head of our house, Jesus. We grow up to be like our Parent.

Hebrews 5: 14
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Ultimately it comes down to the fact that everyone needs to grow up sometime.  Every infant eventually shows interest in solid food, learns how to eat solid food, and learns to feed solid food to himself.  It takes practice, months and even years of practice, but you have to start at some point and time.  If an infant never does this, something is seriously wrong with the infant and they need help.  Otherwise they will stay tiny forever and wither away.  Who has ever heard of an adult who only drinks milk, and that from a bottle/breast being fed to them?  You don’t, because you don’t ever get to the point of being an adult by milk alone.  The mature Christian gets the solid food, the deep truths of Christ, and searches them out, feeding that truth to himself by God’s power.  It’s by this, and the constant use of that solid food, that the mature Christian is able to tell the difference between what is good, and what is evil, which is basically the foundation for carrying out God’s will in our lives.

 

Further Notes

 

I want to note that even adults still drink in the milk sometimes.  The fundamental truths of Christianity are great to always be learning about and remembering.  It should also be said that having someone give you a glass of milk is never a bad thing (like a sermon on Sunday!), it’s just that you cannot survive on that alone.  A pastor who is teaching and spoon feeding you the ‘simple milk’ all the time will never be enough fuel for you to continue to mature in Christ.  True, at the outset you need a ‘parent’ to teach you these fundamentals of God, but if the kid never gets off the bottle, what will happen to them?  There comes a time in every Christian’s life when it is no longer time for a diet of milk, but of solid food, which is for the mature.  You can be taught more complex things by others, and with Christians this often happens, but that is also like an adult spoon feeding steak to another adult.  It’s not necessarily the best thing for us and our relationship with God.  I would argue that primarily, solid food must be sought out for, and self-fed.  It would be a pastor’s job, and the mature Christians’ jobs, to get an infant to that point.  Solid food is primarily a self-feeding endeavor because like it says in Hebrews 5:14, it is by constant (personal) ‘use’ of solid food that a mature Christian is able to distinguish good from evil.  So now when a child becomes an adult, what do the adults do?  They feed the children their milk so that they can move on to solid food, and guess what?  They teach them how to get that solid food for themselves while they’re at it!  It’s the adult’s job to teach the children how to feed themselves, so that they can grow and help mature others.  In other words, you need solid food and not milk in order to grow in Christ to the point of becoming everything God desires for you to be in Him. 

I hope this has been as helpful to you as it was for me to learn about.  Have a fantastic day!

Grace and Peace,

Joe
 

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 25th, 2008 at 1:47 am and is filed under Devotional. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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99 Comments(+Add)

1   merry    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:13 am

*round of applause* Yay for Joe C! :) Glad to see you’re a writer now; I’ve always appreciated the attitude you bring into conversations with your comments.

2   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:16 am

Wow, congratulations Joe C! I am over the moon to see you as a contributor here and what a great post to start with.

You left out a very important use for milk – making a good cappuccino :D

3   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 6:39 am

Great stuff Joe! And congrats!

iggy

4   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 9:52 am

Welcome, Joe! (When you opened with “Friends,” for a second there I thought you were Jerry ;)

Excellent thoughts!

[Also, just an FYI - my oldest son, who is 19, just left to go back to school last week and our household milk consumption will go down about 40-50% (from 6 gal/weel to 3 gal/week). Now, while that isn't his complete diet, your comments about some adults still drinking milk along with everything else struck home...]

Blessings,
Chris

5   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 10:11 am

Eugene,

I did leave the cappuccino out, but that’s only because I’m not a big coffee guy, so I tend to forget stuff like that exists. :)

Chris,

Thanks again for the opportunity to post here. You must be excited about having one of the kids out of the house again ha ha. You know, I was thinking about the overall metaphor of milk/solid food and realized that hey…adults still drink milk, but can’t survive on that only, and Paul does mention a few times his wishes to feed the Christians solid food…, but it’s still second hand and not optimal, so that’s why that section is in there.

And…I personally don’t drink milk unless it’s in cereal, but that’s because I’m afraid of it being sour :D hahaha.

Joe

6   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 10:30 am

I think you hit the nail on the head, Joe. The whole issue with milk and solid food is really more about the ability to feed ourselves and others rather than depending on someone else to take care of all the time.

It’s kind of ironic, because a lot of times when I hear people talk about this issue it’s in the context of, “why doesn’t this pastor give us solid food?” – they are still wanting to be spoonfed. The fact is that the people who make this complaint should be mature enough to feed themselves and others.

7   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 10:31 am

Joe C,

Thank you for an excellent word. I believe we had some interaction over at “more trash talkin”, about whose responsibility it was to give the milk.

Enough said on that. I appreciate the time and effort you took on this post. I am reading just before it is time to get out of here and go to work so I am going to re-read it again on my break time to “digest” the “meat” even more.

Thanks
Blessings

8   Mike    
August 25th, 2008 at 10:35 am

Excellent article, Joe. I have been looking for something like this for a while, to share with some of my friends.

And, I agree with you about the coffee, Dr. Pepper and green tea only…but not in the same glass… or maybe I should try that…

9   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
August 25th, 2008 at 11:07 am

Great post man! I have been thinking alot about this and had a few thoughts –

1. What many ODMs forget is that everyone in a Sunday morning congregation is not at the same spiritual place as they are. Therefore, if the pastor always gave “meat” out, they would loose alot of the congregation. Maybe they should serve a steak milkshake? mmmm….

2. I never know what it means to go “deeper” into the word. What is “meat”, and what is “milk”? When people normally say that they want deeper teaching, they usually mean that they want more intellectual, educated teaching that focuses on facts, figures and drawn out exegesis. This comes from our enlightenment mindset. The more we know, the better we are. What if “going deeper” simply meant putting the scriptures to work, or having long prayer times sealing the scripture we have just read in our hearts.

3. I think we need to realize that there are different ways to teach the scripture. For example… teaching what the bible says (MacArthur), teaching how to apply the bible to your life (Warren), teaching why the bible says what it says (McManus). We usually vilify any other method than what we are used to as shallow. In reality, they are all valid and helpful to the community.

10   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 11:22 am

What if “going deeper” simply meant putting the scriptures to work, or having long prayer times sealing the scripture we have just read in our hearts.

The author of Hebrews kind of defines what teaching constitutes milk in Hebrews as well a little further down in the letter (from Chapter 6):

1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.

It’s the elementary teachings of Christ which is the milk, therefore the solid food, following this line of thought being used is the more complicated issues and truths of our faith. Pretty much, the complicated subjects the writer of Hebrews is speaking about is what is ‘deeper’. It’s funny, this is the stuff us Christians seem to argue about the most.

But what we have to realize is that more than all of this, the other aspect to solid food is feeding oneself. It’s not just ‘deeper teachings’. What adult is fed their steak to them by another person? It’s just weird. And we also have to remember it’s by the constant practicing of this eating solid food and practicing feeding it to ourselves, and putting it to use in our bodies (in our Christian life/practices) that it finds its fulfillment. So in many ways, I think you’re right, I think ‘going deeper’ = solid food = practice it out in your life.

Joe

11   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 11:26 am

So in a big picture way to look at it…

We need to grow up and begin eating solid food, learn to become self feeders of that solid food, and let that solid food become part of who we are in all we say and do.

And THAT’s what “solid food” is. All of that put together really.

Joe

12   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 11:28 am

It’s kind of ironic, because a lot of times when I hear people talk about this issue it’s in the context of, “why doesn’t this pastor give us solid food?” – they are still wanting to be spoonfed. The fact is that the people who make this complaint should be mature enough to feed themselves and others.

QFT Phil, that’s great. That’s my point. :)

13   pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 11:33 am

Responding to Nathan and this post:

I have always felt my Job as a Pastor is not to ‘dumb down’ the message, but to apply exegesis so that those who are new Christians can understand it, and those that are mature Christians can use it apply it and use it as a basis to dig even deeper.

In that sense, I am like a mother bird, digesting and regurgitating food to the point that the chicks can eat it.

I was originally trained as a secondary education History teacher, and I can apply teaching methods to the pulpit. The most difficult thing to do is to find a middle ground where every one understands-but that the smartest students are still challenged. And those who love the Lord will dig in like those students, their curiosity peaked and their desire to serve the Lord intensified.

14   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 11:43 am

In that sense, I am like a mother bird, digesting and regurgitating food to the point that the chicks can eat it.

That’s really a very pre-Reformation way of looking at Scripture, though. Unless I’m misunderstanding you, it seems like you’re saying that only trained professionals can really handle Scripture, and they they need to explain it to the masses.

I guess I don’t think it’s an issue of presenting facts in an easier way as much as it is expanding the context and history of Scripture. I think that so many preachers have managed to make the Biblical narrative boring because they have ripped it away from the original story. If we can get people plugged into the grand narrative of the Bible again, I think their curiousity will lead to study more on their own.

I know personally, I’ve always learned the most from people with whom I’ve had a give and take type of relationship. I’ve never done well when the person teaching acted as if he had the key to all knowledge.

15   Chris P.    http://solascripturapprovedworkman.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 11:47 am

Ah, nathan offers the strawman stereotypes of the post-modern mindset.

Be transformed by liberation theology?

Oh……. by the renewing of your mind.

The problem with modern and post-modern evangelicalism is not the teaching of too much meat; there is no actual meat at all.

Most churches are designed to keep people from maturing, thus keeping the pews filled.
This would include Warren and McManus.

We teach what the Bible says, how it applies, and why it says what it says and even more than that.
It is up to the individual to work it out and only those who have ears to hear can do so.
Some seed falls on the wayside, some in thorny ground, but some does fall on good ground and bears fruit.
You operate on the mistaken assumption that all who occupy a pew are believers, or will eventually become one..

BTW the passage from Hebrews 5 continues in Hebrews 6 and should be read thus:

11About this (Christ the great high priest) we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do if God permits. 4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. 9Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

This is addressing the issue of “going deeper”,i.e. maturity.
Paul addresses maturity and milk in this way:

1 Cor 3:
1But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

He is also addressing maturity and spiritual growth.

Peter’s reference has nothing to do with
what Paul and the writer of Hebrews (also Paul?) are talking about.

1 Peter 2:
2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Peter is using the example of an infant longing for the pure milk from its mother,once it has tasted that the milk is good. This milk enables the child to grow into a healthy and mature person.
This milk and this attitude are to always be consumed and made manifest by those who have tasted the pure spiritual milk of the Lord, and have found it to be good.
Once again this passage only refers to believers.

The milk referred to by Peter, and the milk analogy presented by Paul are two different things.

16   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 11:55 am

Like Ephesians 4:11-12 says, pastors need to be equipping their people and enabling them to become mature Christians. But someone doesn’t mature past the state of infancy if they’re only food source is milk (simple teaching, second hand teaching, ie you teaching them). As a pastor, PB, you should be getting your people to the point of self feeding, so you can then refocus on the newer influx of Christians which hopefully will always be coming in to your congregation. And so you can focus on the overall direction of the congregation. Also, getting Christians to the point of self-feeding maturity enables them to take up some of the slack of teaching the younger in Christ, which then enables the sheperd of the flock to do what a sheperd does, which is guide and protect.

Joe

17   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 25th, 2008 at 11:56 am

Would it be fair to say that it is the joint responsibility of the pastor and individual members to grow those members to mature self feeding disciples? How would you say can this be realised?

18   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I look forward to your thoughts, Joe. I like my milk cold with ice cubes! :)

My meat? Medium.

19   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 1:36 pm

Question, depending on the answer then I will relate my question to a particular post here on this thread.

Is the church, the palce we meet, for the believer of un-believer? Scripturally speaking, was it a place to gather specific to the un-believer or believers?

20   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

It depends. You see the early church, like from Acts 2, was in a totally different situation than our churches are now. Different political, economical, and social situation. We’re not persecuted here in America so we grow large and outward in terms of our meeting places. Back then, the home-church was all the rage, mostly out of necessity. Knowing this, it’s hard to say “well the apostles did it this way so we need to copy it exactly”, especially considering there are no biblical commands telling us exactly how the church should look.

With all of that said, by definition, the word used for ‘church’ in the NT is “eklesia” which means “those who are called out”. By the very definition of that word it would indicate that the church, be it local body or universally, is made up of Christians only, because Christians are those called out of the world to a common purpose and salvation in Christ. Many people then make the logical conclusion that our gatherings of the ‘church’ in to a common place for corporate worship/teaching should be a Christian only affair. But I’m not sure if this is a stuck fast rule, or just a good idea.

In many ways, for the culture we live in, this is a particularly ineffective way to deal with unbelievers. Many Americans associate well with being invited to events or gatherings and being welcomed by a community of people who claim to ‘love their neighbors as themselves’ and follow Jesus Christ, God, who is love. If we put up signs on our churches that say “no sinners allowed” then we’ve just spit in Christ’s face, in my eyes. Jesus Christ welcomed the sinners and preached the good news to them. We should do the same.

But if we’re going to be preaching to unbelievers on sunday, even if it’s a few, then that means most of the church is not getting much in the way of anything besides milk. I mean, mass teaching like that of a sermon is milk anyways by default because it’s someone elses study spoon fed to the masses, but it’s even more milk-like because it’s very basic for the unbeliever to hear. So I think this should galvanize us to get our community even more ready and mature, and able to eat solid food themselves.

Joe

21   pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Joe, et.al.

I am speaking primarily about my preaching ministry, but, absolutely, it is very important that people become self-feeders. If they are true converts, I believe they will hunger for the meat and will never be satisfied. They will continue to hunger for the deeper teachings of the Word.

I would argue that all too many churches (see Seeker churches with REVEAL studies) have been shown to never mature past the bottle because of a lack of true conversion. A false convert will not desire the deeper things of the Word. Seeker churches are filled with people who feel perfectly comfortable just being entertained. As Pastors, we must challenge their comfort in concert with the Holy Spirit.

22   pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

RE: #19

Joe, I was tracking with you until the last paragraph.

Mature Christians will dig into the word themselves. But our message should not change for the masses, it should be for Christians. It should always point to the cross ultimately. It should be understandable, but it should be the meat of the Word. Church, Sunday School, and other ministries are to build up and equip followers of Jesus Christ to become fully formed disciples. That is what the church is for. An unbeliever who walks in ought to feel welcome, but uncomfortable; I mean that the preaching of the Word should work in his heart to the point where he knows that his life does not line up with what is being proclaimed, and this should be enough cause for them to run out of the sanctuary or repent.

23   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

John,

I don’t think we can level all or even most of the blame at the ’seeker’ style church types. Plenty of old reformed stuffy churches have just as many people who are happy to sit on the pews and be ’spoon fed’ the “solid food” of exegetical teaching. And you know what? They’re still babies because of it. It’s pandemic in almost all the churches I’ve been in. People think that they can survive on a diet of preaching (milk), but they need to grow up and learn to feed themselves (solid food) so they can be able to teach others the same thing.

You’re right though, Christians should scream for milk, and then as they grow, for solid food. What living baby doesn’t cry for milk? Just like any human being, we always hunger, and we would never let ourselves starve if it was within our power. So why do we starve ourselves spiritually so often? And then when we get ‘fed’, it’s just some weak milk, once a week, (or twice if you have a church Bible study) which cannot possibly sustain us and help us grow in to all God wants us to be.

Subtract the ’seeker sensitive’ bashing from your post and I agree with you in general John.

Joe

24   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

John,

I principally agree with you there, I was only saying “if” this is going to happen in our churches, it should really push us harder to get our people to the place where they can self feed.

25   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Bottom line is…people can’t live on milk forever. And listening to someone preach will never grow you in the strong way God desires for us. That’s my main point I ’spose.

26   CS    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I look at this subject a little bit from the opposite direction. Imagine you have someone who is a, “self-feeder,” who knows how to get information and apply it from the Word of God. This person can handle both, “meat,” and, “milk,” alike, when it comes to spiritual nourishment. He does not rely solely upon others to feed him, but can go and get food regularly.

This person then goes to a church where the pastor, instead of offering some meat and some milk both for consumption (for the mature and new Christians alike), puts bibs on everyone and begins to pass out bottles of breast milk. Or, he goes through the drive-thru and gets another sermon-in-a-box, and passes it out every week to the congregation.

The self-feeder, pretty soon, gets sick from the food because he isn’t getting fed in a place, where perhaps, it matters most. He no longer needs to be nursed, because regular milk would be fine. And the solid food that is being passed out is so full byproducts and devoid of nutrients that it makes him ill. After all, a person cannot survive on McDonalds alone.

Consequently, that person says, “I’m just not getting fed,” which is a true statement. The food is not healthy, well-balanced, or full of goodness. Instead, it’s fast food and baby bottles.

This is where I believe why we are hearing so many people say, “I’m not getting fed,” at this time. It’s not necessarily the type of food, but the quality of it.


CS

27   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Here’s the problem with that metephor CS. You seem to indicate this person is a well off self-feeder, trained and mature. Well what I am saying is that person would never get their principle nourishment from a sermon, no matter how basic/complex it was. That person is being fed by digging through the Word of God with the Holy Spirit, feeding himself, and through prayer and contemplation with God. Hence, it’s my argument that since this person is fed, regardless of how breasty milked the sermon is, this person’s place in the church would be to stay and bring those immature milk drinking Christians to the point of maturity.

With all respect friend, what you have set up is a false dichotomy to me.

28   CS    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Joe C:

Thanks for the reply.

“Hence, it’s my argument that since this person is fed, regardless of how breasty milked the sermon is, this person’s place in the church would be to stay and bring those immature milk drinking Christians to the point of maturity.”

You’re right. A mature Christian’s role is to help disciple and assist those who are new to the faith along to where they can rightly read the Bible, gain information, and “self-feed.” Absolutely.

My argument is that the food at the church is what’s wrong, not the individual’s pursuit of feeding themselves. It doesn’t matter how much good food you digest during the week if one meal can make you ill. For example, I know that I should avoid Taco Bell unless I want to have an upset stomach for a few days. And many churches are serving up the same spiritually.


CS

29   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Thank you.. and may I say, I don’t think that was a “bashing” of “seeker-sensitive” church.

IMHO, there is an inherent problem with “seeker-sensitive” and I believe the nail was hit on the head with REVEAL.

I always stated, at the church I came out of, very PDL, that if you are going to open your arms wide for the non-believer ( or a stupid term, pre-christian) then you need to do the same for the believer. There has got to be a balance of good teaching and preaching the gospel. But where I came from the mid-week service was no different than the Sunday and I was getting tired week after week, year after year hearing about leadership,etc., etc.. That is why I HAD to become a self feeder so that I could make it in this world.

Actually, my sin was that I relied too much on those round me to teach me rather than using what they had to offer to see if there was truth in what they taught and studied it out for myself.

I think that basically we are all in agreement. We are responsibile for our own learning and applying, even when the teaching is given by another.

30   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 2:57 pm

CS, you’re right about that. It might very well be that the food is spoiled at some churches, but if all the mature Christians leave, who can affect change for the better at the ‘taco bell’ church? You know?

All in all, I can never know how many churches have bad food and that’s why the mature Christians leave, or if they’re really just not mature at all and want to be spoon fed the solid food. I’m just trying to give out some basic principles that I’ve learned. We need solid food to grow in to adults, not milk, and solid food is primarily self-fed. If we agree on that, then our metaphorical argument is pretty much moot, ha ha. Peace friend,

Joe

31   CS    
August 25th, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Joe C:

“CS, you’re right about that. It might very well be that the food is spoiled at some churches, but if all the mature Christians leave, who can affect change for the better at the ‘taco bell’ church? You know?”

Good call. But, where’s the command, example, or direction for mature Christians to stay and try to fix things in a lousy church? Don’t get me wrong, I have seen plenty of places where things changed for the better when mature Christians got involved with their churches. But, I can’t think of anything that says we should stay at a church where the leadership is teaching bad doctrine or theology to their people. In some places, it’s impossible to change the “food” that is being served, and it’s better to leave and warn others.

“All in all, I can never know how many churches have bad food and that’s why the mature Christians leave, or if they’re really just not mature at all and want to be spoon fed the solid food.”

Good call. It can be hard to determine that motivation. I think it requires looking at the fruits that the believers are producing and the history, efforts, etc. that they have put forth.

Thanks again for the chat.


CS

32   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

My pleasure, this was exactly what I was hoping/looking for in terms of a conversation with other Christians about this subject. Peace!

33   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Also, in this link, you can see that the point of view taken on Pastor Stevens words are myopic at best. I don’t think the editor even bothered to think or ask “why?” the pastor feels that way.

Well, it’s obvious he’d rather half the people coming in to that church and staying there not believe in those things than every single person because guess what that would mean? The church has stopped reaching out and bringing in unbelievers to hear the Gospel. It would mean that they have become stuffy and dead, with no influx of new people to teach about Christ. And in that respect, I’d much rather have unbelievers in the pews hearing the Gospel, then 100% doctrinally perfect people who believe everything correctly, but are just fat pew warmers ‘living’ off of milk. lol.

It seemed very simple to me, but once again CRN uses a quote in any way it wants, out of context, to tear down a ministry. It’s really sad, and I wish it would stop.

Joe

34   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 3:23 pm

CS

“…I should avoid Taco Bell …

Just a small little bit of info, I saw a truck that delivered to Taco Bell one day and on the side it said, TACO BELL Grade “D” meat but edible.

I can only take so much “Grade D” meat for so long before it begins to make me sick, so at some point one who may feel that he was to stay and hopefully make a difference in the teachings that are going on, will probably leave if there is no change. Even the mature still like to have a bit of Grade AA meat.

Or for example, the senior pastor makes a statement that there will be no expository preaching going on here only topical. That type of preaching if not careful can lead to “scripture out of context” to support a topic, etc. then the food is rotten.

We are talking about “milk” verses “meat” but there is so much more that is happening behind the scenes that we don’t know about that creates a bigger issue than the simplicity of this topic.

If the body isn’t given any food between the “milk” and “meat” there may not be any growth as well. At that point I my lay the blame on the one who is suppose to “train the body to be able to do the work of the ministry”, for not doing the job properly.

35   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 3:31 pm

When I was saved watching Billy Graham in March of 1975 I had never been inside an evangelical church. Living just outside NYC I never did find a church, but for two years I read books, read the Bible, listened to Christian radio, and found an uncontrollable pursuit albeit with little direction and no mentoring.

It wasn’t until I entered Bible college that I started attending a church. The seeker churches for the most part have a sincere desire to reach souls, but sometimes they over play the excitement and theatrics side of evangelism and miss the deep devotioal core that will see you through tough times.

On the other hand many of the reformed churches teach their version of doctrine while eschewing any excitement and cultivating an spoken/unspoken self righteousness about how grounded they are in Biblical doctrine. Many believers like that take great joy in mocking those with whom they disagree and have a “club” mentality.

So sometimes we are left with either a Braodawy Theatre style church or a museum of Natural History style. We must find a way to do more than spoon feed believers and make them repeat a montra they think they must and make us a spreachers look as if we’ve succeeded in molding and feeding them. We must feed AND equip AND ehort the Spirit within them to arise and ignite them on a person by person basis to love, hear, and follow the Lord Jesus on the journey He has for them.

To create a giant flock of sheep that look, talk, and act the same surely doesn’t reflect church history. I love how so many people who consider themselves very orthodox and even discerners have such important distinctions in their doctrine. Infant baptism, emblematic baptism, baptism saves, emblematic communion, transubstantiation, presdestination, double predestination, pre-trib, pre-wrath, amillenialism, pastor led, elder led, Calvinistic, Baptistic, reformed, Lutheran, and a plethera of different other doctrines.

And yet these people say everyone should be grounded in doctrine. Which doctrine? Sometimes grounded means indoctrination and the use of both fear and the mocking of others. Does anyone even trust the Holy Spirit anymore?

36   CS    
August 25th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Joe C:

“Also, in this link, you can see that the point of view taken on Pastor Stevens words are myopic at best. I don’t think the editor even bothered to think or ask “why?” the pastor feels that way.”

You’re right here, too. It’s always so important to take things in context. I know I hate when my words are taken as soundbites without accounting for the theme or complete picture.

Unfortunately, I think this is where we have to part ways on this topic a bit. I actually support more of CRN’s view on this than Granger’s pastors’ views. I believe that the statistics are more damning than productive.

You and they are both right, that the percentage of people should never quite be at 100%, because that would show that no one who is new to the faith is coming into the church. I could see it being somewhere in the 90 percentile, or even the mid-80s. But when it’s in the 50s or 40s? That shows that there are serious problems.

It’s not like there was a sudden influx of people into their church which dropped the number; this number is indicative of the static nature of their attendees. And for so many to not know the basics of the faith is a horrible, horrible thing, with souls in the balance.

Remember: the primary purpose of church is not evangelism–bringing in the lost to share the Gospel with them. And even if it were, then there should be something higher than a mid-50s percentile for beliefs.


CS

37   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Remember: the primary purpose of church is not evangelism–bringing in the lost to share the Gospel with them. And even if it were, then there should be something higher than a mid-50s percentile for beliefs.

It seems to me that you are equating the “church” with the service that is held on Sunday morning. The fact is that the Sunday morning gathering should be a relatively small part of what the church is about. Personally, I don’t think the stats about the number of saved people in our pews mean that much. I’d be more concerned about the fruit that people bear throughout the week.

I guess in a way, I agree with you – the Sunday morning service shouldn’t be the thing we rely on to be a vehicle for the Gospel. The Gospel should be something we live holistically. The Sunday service should be a celebration and demonstration of what God is doing in and through His people.

38   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:03 pm

CS,

Maybe :)

Rick,

Exactly, there seems to be some extremes we are dealing with here. But on the “doctrinal perfection” side, you have to ask, which one is right? They’re so fussy over the majority of ‘evangelicalism’s’ doctrine, but they can’t even agree with each other on the doctrines the crush others over.

I think we say we trust the Holy Spirit out of one side of our mouths, but deny Him and His Power with the other side, by our actions and how we act towards other Christians.

Joe

39   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Iwantthetruth,

a few things I want to address

Is the church, the palce we meet, for the believer of un-believer? Scripturally speaking, was it a place to gather specific to the un-believer or believers?

We should never make the church, the place where we meet, and our gatherings synonymous. they are three very different things. The church is only for believers, the place is irrelevant, IMHO the gathering should be for humans — moving them all towards Christ.

Or for example, the senior pastor makes a statement that there will be no expository preaching going on here only topical. That type of preaching if not careful can lead to “scripture out of context” to support a topic, etc. then the food is rotten.

I have heard more then my fair share of expositional sermons that are chocked full of pastor’s opinion. I just wrote on one where the pastor said a verse in Revelations 17 was about Rick Warren. A bit more than personal opinion there :)

40   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Right Phil,

We have to remember that ‘church’ is the people, and not where/when they meet.

41   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

I’d be more concerned about the fruit that people bear throughout the week.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, but unfortunately this is not something we can (or even should) tangibly measure. But it should be a main focus.

The purpose we should bear in mind is moving beyong church membership to becoming disciples of Christ – on a daily basis (continuing in His word). This is where the real battle is fought, but the equipping, which is extremely important, must be done as well.

I would suggest that a reason many seeker-friendly style churches produce wishy-washiness is because of a steady diet of “light” teachings.

As in the days of Jeremiah, he rebuked the pastors who “make [the Lord's] people to err by their lightness.”

42   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

I would suggest that a reason many seeker-friendly style churches produce wishy-washiness is because of a steady diet of “light” teachings.

I guess I feel that I’m not in a position to pass a blanket judgement on all these churches. This is why churches have elders – they are ultimately responsible for what goes on in their meetings. I don’t see the position of internet busybody described in Scripture anywhere.

43   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:15 pm

I would suggest that a reason many seeker-friendly style churches produce wishy-washiness is because of a steady diet of “light” teachings.

My OP suggests the opposite. It’s because churches think that ‘light’ OR ‘heavy’ teachings from the pulpit makes disciples, makes mature Christians. It plainly does not. What makes disciples is steady one on one training from a mature believer who can help another Christian graduate from sitting there in the pews being spoon fed milk, to searching out solid food and feeding himself. This is what is not happening in our churches. The pastor should be guiding his people to get to the point of self-feeding, but it’s not by just preaching ‘heavy’ sermons, which is still milk (because it’s bottle/spoon fed).

44   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Phil – when I wrote that I was not even thinking about the internet, but drawing more so from personal experience and people I know who attend these style of churches (some of which would admit that this does seem to pose a problem).

Joe – when I say ‘light’ I mean that people are fed sermonettes that are more on the level of Tony Robbins than straightforward preaching of Christ.

But I do agree that the movement from being fed to feeding yourself is an issue, and one that might be tied back to the seeker-friendly process (not exclusively mind you) that does everything for people: PowerPoints, sermon guidelines, videos, etc…

From what I have seen, seeker-friendly church is a culture not just the way service is done. It is high on the social aspect (which can be fine) but low on many other areas.

As a customer of mine recently explained their business: “It’s an unbalanced tree.”

45   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 4:25 pm

CHRISTIAN TERMS

Grounded = he thinks like me

Meat – sytematic theology

Milk – feeding the poor

Orthodox = he thinks like me

Genuine = he thinks like me

Born Again = agrees with Westminster Confession

Truth = agrees with me

46   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

You mean CRN terms? :) teehee

47   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Hmmmmm…… it seems a lot of folks are trying to put the Holy Spirit in the unemployment line…..

48   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

From what I have seen, seeker-friendly church is a culture not just the way service is done. It is high on the social aspect (which can be fine) but low on many other areas.

I guess my point is that it seems impossible to really lump a group of churches all together based on looking from the outside in. It’s one thing to be involved in a church and know what it’s like, but it’s another to actually be passing judgement on churches we’re not part of.

Of course churches have problems – people are involved. If the Apostle Paul couldn’t plant a church without it going to crap, why do we think we could do better? I guess I think sometimes we become so focused on doing church the right way that we make the business of the church an idol.

49   Joe C    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Scotty, what do you mean brother?

50   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Hmmmmm…… it seems a lot of folks are trying to put the Holy Spirit in the unemployment line…..

Dude, we haven’t needed the Holy Spirit since the ’70’s… Get with the program. :-)

51   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:41 pm

I just wrote on one where the pastor said a verse in Revelations 17 was about Rick Warren. A bit more than personal opinion there

I understand that there can be alot of junk in expository preaching as well, but I would like to get the “whole counsel” of God at times. More than anything I am just bouncing off you regarding some areas that I have some thoughts on.

I truely believe that for me personanlly I was led away from the current church by the Holy Spirit for my own benefit rather than becoming some apologetics guy trying to tell everyone it has to be this or that or else you are all going to “hell”. I still may have some definate beliefs on what I might feel are inappropraite theological issues in the church, or even PDL Model, but more importantly, I need to be right with God.

God is a good God and he has saved me from falling into what could have abeen a detrimental trap for me and me alone.

As a worship leader I become to involved in “doing” rather than “being” for Christ and if I never pick up a guitar again, or stood on a platform again, it’s alright by me. I just want to be obedient, know Him more and currently that is through His word and I am loving every minute of my “being” in Him.

So with all that…I actually am not that far from where most of you are talking. My personal belief is that we are to be responsible for our own feeding, I know that the “real” church is the body of Christ and for me “evangelism” is more about the fruit in ones life and how that impacts those around you. Not so much, that it is done in a church building, but rather how one lives their walk with Christ and can those around you see Him through you. I think that is what most of it is about. Growing in Christ and allowing God to “complete the good work He began in you.”

Amen

52   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 4:43 pm

All expository preaching is topical. It sometimes is just broken down into many topics rather than just one. I find the idolatry of expository preachings is…uh…idolatry. :)

53   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 4:54 pm

All talk is topical.

54   nc    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Amen, Rick.

The myth that histo-grammatical reading is the only right way to approach a text exegetically is just garbage.

In the wake of said hermeneutic we’ve seen an explosion of varying commentaries–a plethora of interpretations.

Expository preaching–as articulated by J-Mac sycophants–is a pipedream.

55   nc    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

or worse yet…

you get a string of sermonettes that goes verse by verse…

ick.

56   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
August 25th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Yes, you’re right Phil. I’ve planted a church before and God only knows how many things I wish I did differently and regret in retrospect.

There is no doubt that many seeker-friendly churches seem to have a strong desire to reach new people for Christ and I admire that. But sometimes in our zeal we can forget some things, minor on majors and vice versa.

Paul’s last statements to the men of Ephesus was that he had not shunned to declare to them the whole counsel of God. I take that to mean that he preaches all aspects needed for a man/woman to lead a Christian life despite circumstances. That they should be rooted and grounded based on what he taught. It seems this was his goal, as a wise masterbuilder, wherever he went.

57   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

All expository preaching is topical. It sometimes is just broken down into many topics rather than just one. I find the idolatry of expository preachings is…uh…idolatry.

Ok now I am having fun, I just figured out how to use the quotes in boxes. Yeehaw!!!

I understand your quote above, but what I find lacking in just topical, is that many times we avoid the some of the tough issues of the walk like sin, unholiness, but rather the sweet you are loved, etc.

When you have expository, hopefully as one goes verse by verse, chapter by chapter, that won’t be missed over. There are enough people in the body who come to church for just the weekend service and don’t become “self-feeders” because I believe that fluff leads to a fluff life.

I think you now what I am getting at but even Jesus, Paul, let ‘em have it soemtimes to straighten us out.

58   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 4:58 pm

nc – even if you communicate verse by verse you wind up addressing TOPICS. That expository myth is just another way to feel self righteous. Kinda like -

“God might accept some worship methods and services, but He LOVES AND APPROVES MINE!!”

59   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Ahhh!!! Simply put, I want all of the “word” topical and expositorily, so that I can learn and walk the walk. I don’t care if it’s self-fed or by a pastor/teacher. Just give me all of it Lord!!!

60   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Well, Thank you very much for your input. I did take time to read each of your bio’s on this site and I am glad to see such a diverse group of people who love the Lord interacting here.

Come by and talk to us over at http://thegreycoats.com/
Love to have your interaction on some of the topics there.

Blessings
IWTT

61   nc    
August 25th, 2008 at 5:38 pm

but isn’t “sin” a…topic?

;)

62   CS    
August 25th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

nc:

“The myth that histo-grammatical reading is the only right way to approach a text exegetically is just garbage.

“In the wake of said hermeneutic we’ve seen an explosion of varying commentaries–a plethora of interpretations.”

What, then, is the correct way to read the Bible? I’ve seen a ton of people who read their own interpretations into the texts (eisegesis), and come out mangling what the Word really means.


CS

63   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Everything is a topic. Name me a conversation that isn’t a topic.

BTW – how do all these expository sermons have a title? How about marriage series? Repentance series? All topical even when springboarded from some connected verses. I never thought we’d reach the point that sermond methodology would reflect a person’s orthodox standing before God.

64   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 5:45 pm

“What, then, is the correct way to read the Bible?”

My way. :)

65   CS    
August 25th, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Rick:

“My way.”

Ba-zing. I liked that. :)

All:

Here’s the catch with the expository versus topical discussion: it is the perception of the types of sermons that follow one primary idea or the other that have shaped the view of these types of sermons.

For example, we can have an expository sermon on 1 Corinthians 7 and look at all other Scripture concerning marriage along with it. Or, we can have a series about marriage, where we look at 1 Corinthians 7 and all other verses about marriage. Both are totally fine.

But then, we have a sermon series about sex, where cheap novelties are what are being used to draw people into churches. The series includes extra-Biblical material, tawdry antics, and a dash of Scripture to make it, “Christian.” So, instead of the focus on being what the Bible says about sex in marriage, or on what God wants in marriage, the focus is on sex itself.

Consequently, because the above-mentioned hypothetical sermon is a part of a “topical series,” the perception becomes that all topical series are an incorrect way of having sermons. Whereas with those presented as, “expository,” sermons, there usually isn’t a chance to string together erroneous teaching there. That’s why expository sermons are seen as superior to topical series.


CS

66   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

nc,

but isn’t “sin” a…topic?

Is this directed at me?

If so, let me reiterate, I have been going to this PDL Model Church for almost about 12 years. There are good points and bad points as in every church program. What I am speaking of that is lacking, IMO, is speaking about everything that is in scripture for us to learn. How are we to walk the appropriate life style without the full councel, and let’s get past topical and/or expository, either or will do as long as it is done? My issue is that in PDL, and this was and is being discussed at the Who is to Blame? Seriously: That’s the New Angle! thread, when you survey why a person doesn’t come to church, and make church exciting and relevant, there seems to be a tendency to not preach/teach from the pulpit much substance. I realize that is because it is purely evangelical in foundation, but you have to still help a person grow and train them and teach them to be able to do it on their own.

Actually, PDL is such a deeper topic than what we are talking about here. I think it is a thological topic to boot and I think theology drives a method. But another post and discussion.

Maybe we are getting off the main topic of this thread. (Even this thread is a topic, hee hee ) Agree or not? We are to be self feeders at some point to continue growing and not rely so much on the pastor?

How about this become self-feeders to eventually move into ministry to help the pastor. I do that was mentioned above. Hmmm, have we gone full circle?

67   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 6:10 pm

The nuance is this – Everyone must be a self feeder. Even if the pastor is teaching truth, each person must pay attention, process the communication, and ultimately embrace it in faith and practice.

You can lead a church member to water but you can’t make him drink.

68   IWanthetruth    
August 25th, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Rick,

Right.

I also want to say that the issues that I have recently had in PDL have been stuff that has been brewing over the past 12 years. T

There is so much to what goes on behind the scenes in a church and the people that are in that church are great people who love the Lord and I have nothing against them.

The challenge for me has been deciding where I fall in my theological beliefs and what is right and true scripturally.

I have been to Baptist, Episopalian, Open Bible, Lutheran, A/G, and 4Square. That is a hodgepod of different theologies and I am just trying to figure it all out. That means I have been Calvin, Arminian, Semi-pelagian, charismatic/pentecostal, ye gads zooks!!!

Time to just go back to the bible…

69   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
August 25th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

See, this is where people get mixed up. The PDL program never says to pick and choose topics that people like best. I have been thru sermon series’ at Saddleback that deal heavily with sin. They are just presented in a manner that the unchurched person can understand and receive.

IwanttheTruth, what you have experienced is an unhelathy offshoot of the PDL model.

70   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 7:16 pm

The nuance is this – Everyone must be a self feeder. Even if the pastor is teaching truth, each person must pay attention, process the communication, and ultimately embrace it in faith and practice.

The one thing I’d say that is missing from this is to not only process and practice what is preached to them, but it’s the pastor and mature Christians’ responsibilities to get these people to eventually learn to feed themselves. Let’s not forget that. I think this thread has come full circle though. Do we agree on the general point?

71   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Everyone has an accountability link. The preachers, the teachers, and every single believer.

72   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Joe:Scotty, what do you mean brother?

Rick hits it close with this:

The nuance is this – Everyone must be a self feeder. Even if the pastor is teaching truth, each person must pay attention, process the communication, and ultimately embrace it in faith and practice.

You can lead a church member to water but you can’t make him drink.

Ultimately it’s the Holy Spirit that leads us into the teachings we need. That’s where the desire comes from as He gives us that nudge to drink the water that Rick spoke about.

I was given this a long time ago: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I’ve never seen it fail regardless of the teaching one is under.

I’d be even more concerned when I’m not feeling that nudge.

We can debate on how much milk, how much meat, etc.etc. I don’t think those verses are so much about what kind of food is needed to feed on(expository, topical, verse by verse, etc). I see it more as a motivational speech.

But the bottom line, ain’t nuttin’ gonna work if the Holy Spirit isn’t involved one way or another.

73   pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Ideally it works like this:

Person gets Born again
Person finds a Bible preaching church, gets involved in a small group/Bible Study/whatever
Person grows, as person reads Bible, prays, gets taught
Person matures, takes on a small group
Person digs deeper into Word because of teaching, matures further
Person continues to be fed in church, but must eat daily, so continues to grow as they continue to study, pray, fellowship.
Person disciples others to do the same
And so it goes.

This is the Ideal; as we mature, we should get into the disciple making process ourselves. While we continue to be built up in the faith, we build each other up according to our gifts.

Se Acts 2:42-47

74   nc    
August 25th, 2008 at 9:39 pm

CS,

I’d say that proper interpretation is grounded in several things…

Not the least of which is the historical context of the particular text, it’s genre, it’s contextual flow, it’s clear theological framework, and the histo-grammatical considerations that may or may not be present.

I’d say that verse by verse preaching is a choice to depend on artificial markers (added much later and not by the Holy Spirit) that have no bearing on the meaning of the text and, in fact, give people the excuse to not do the harder work of taking the text seriously within it’s particular literary construction.

Of course, this answer is really “reader’s digest” and reductionist, but I hope that helps you hear where I am coming from.

75   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 9:44 pm

I think that sums it up pretty well fellas.

And Scotty, I wasn’t really addressing any particular teaching style; it’s all good to me. I was just making a lot of words for the fact that we need solid food to grow in to adult hood, and at some point we have to learn to self-feed regularly.

Have a good evening fellas!

76   nc    
August 25th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

PB,

So a person experiences “mission/friendship” –i.e. gets Born again.

Then they experience “worship/fellowship”–i.e. finds a Bible teaching church, etc.

Then they do the work and experience “discipleship”–i.e. Person grows, as person reads Bible, prays, gets taught
Person matures, takes on a small group
Person digs deeper into Word because of teaching, matures further
Person continues to be fed in church, but must eat daily, so continues to grow as they continue to study, pray, fellowship.

Then they do the work of “ministry”–i.e.
Person disciples others to do the same

huh…sounds kind of…

purpose drive

mission, worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry

who knew?

;)

77   nc    
August 25th, 2008 at 9:55 pm

sounds like you and Chris P are in the same boat:

Purpose Driven to the core.

Watch out, you might become kind of emergent too just like him and his church.

;)

78   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Joe: And Scotty, I wasn’t really addressing any particular teaching style; it’s all good to me

It wasn’t meant to personal to what you wrote, Joe. Your OP was great!

I was just a general statement based on all I was reading.

79   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
August 25th, 2008 at 10:09 pm

nc,

Exactly, very PD. Ironic. When the PD program is put in to practice properly it really isn’t bad at all, it’s wonderful.

Scotty,

No harm no foul, I just wanted to make sure you understood what I meant. :)

Joe

80   Christian P    http://www.churchvoices.com
August 25th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

I really think it’s good to have a balance of both… solid milk.

Sorry, I just had to say it.

81   pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com/
August 25th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

If your milk is solid you have….

rotten milk.

82   nc    
August 25th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

PB,

now THAT was funny.

lol!

83   Sandy    
August 25th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Hi, Joe. Boomer Sooner!

84   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
August 26th, 2008 at 1:00 am

If your milk is solid you have….

rotten milk.

cottage cheese or any other type of cheese… so not necessarily “rotten” as in inedible.

iggy

85   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 2:53 am

There is another important part (PB touched on it) of growing to maturity that we did not discuss on yet and that is the area of ministry and servant hood. If we just feed the flock and teach them to feed themselves but not to become servants and ministers of the body we end up with obese lazy Christians.

What I would like to hear from you all is how you think we should help people to become self-feeders (again PB touched on this) end how we get them to take up their ministry.

86   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 26th, 2008 at 5:20 am

“What I would like to hear from you all is how you think we should help people to become self-feeders”

Just as important as teaching new believers the core doctrines of the faith is showing them patience, forbearance, grace, and unusual amounts of genuine love that embraces them with all their baggage. One of the problems with some churches is that these new believers can be confused when they hear from the pulpit and the lips of members judgment, about which theyknow nothing.

They need to hear and see Jesus in us, and we need to be an instrument af spiritual cultivation that allow the Spirit to touch and nudge by example, prayers, and an authentic sense of caring. We should be patient listeners not just talkers, and sometimes anticipating questions. These babes in CHrist should be included in every aspect of body life regardless of their appearance, language, and any other areas that may be uncomfortable at the time.

While they learn to self feed, let them experience the unconditional love and grace of God which will provide a fertile atmosphere in which to grow in Christ, just as we grew and are still growing.

87   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 5:59 am

They need to hear and see Jesus in us, and we need to be an instrument af spiritual cultivation that allow the Spirit to touch and nudge by example, prayers, and an authentic sense of caring.

This sounds like mentorship. Do you think one can start up such a program in a church? How would one structure it?

88   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 26th, 2008 at 6:21 am

“How would one structure it?”

We Americans are always “constructing” something. Why isn’t mentoring and discipling just a natural outflow of being a believer? Mature believers should naturally gravitate toward new and fragile lambs. We have become self centered in our walk, but an important part of a believer’s walk is yoking himself to the weakest in our midst.

An overlooked part of evangelism is to show supernatural love and care to new believers who usually have relationships with unsaved relatives and friends. I have seen God reach some lost people through relationships of new believers withoutthe church even attempting to reach them. The Holy Spirit is not bound by us.

89   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 6:35 am

Rick, I’m not American… GRRR :x GRRR

But yes, I know what you mean. What I am trying to get at is what my roll as a pastor in this. How can I get the people in my church to start doing this?

90   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 6:37 am

How can I get the people in my church to start doing this?

Sorry I meant to say our church. It is not as if the church belongs to me, lol.

91   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 26th, 2008 at 6:40 am

I know, Gene. I was self indicting us who live here. I suggest the culture has infiltrated the church.

I would teach on mentoring, focusing on the last three years of Jesus life as he called and mentored His disciples. Keep the church praying for this ministry to expand in your midst. Perhaps a Sunday school class or weekday class to train interested members.

92   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 6:50 am

I know, Gene. I was self indicting us who live here. I suggest the culture has infiltrated the church.

So true. I think most Christians is totally blind for this.

Perhaps a Sunday school class or weekday class to train interested members.

One good thing of American churches that we don’t have in South Africa is adult Sunday school. To get people here(in our church) to attend anything beside a Sunday morning service is really challenging. I think it comes from years and years of Sunday-morning-service-is-my-time-for-God habits. It makes me :evil: !

Do you have material for such classes Rick?

93   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 6:52 am

My grammar is really bad today! SORRY…

94   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
August 26th, 2008 at 6:55 am

Gene – there are legions of such Material, just google “Christian discipleship materials”. Research their doctrine and mold them to your congregation. :)

95   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 8:30 am

And here I were thinking you will do the hard work for me :lol:

96   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
August 26th, 2008 at 10:13 am

I would argue that all too many churches (see Seeker churches with REVEAL studies) have been shown to never mature past the bottle because of a lack of true conversion. A false convert will not desire the deeper things of the Word. Seeker churches are filled with people who feel perfectly comfortable just being entertained.

Pasterboy, you are assuming a lot from very little information you have about the REVEAL study done at the so called Seeker churches (e.g. Granger). Chris Lyons gave some more stats from the study done there that puts the stats that Chris Rosebrough quoted in a very different light :

1. The survey was done (as far as I can tell) by all attendees of GCC not members only.
2. The 15% Exploring Christ(unbelievers) and 42% Growing in Christ(new believers – babies) adds up to very close to those 47%, 57% and 56% stats. In my mind there is definitely some correlation between them.
3. Having 15% unbelievers regularly attending a church is commendable and should not be criticised.
4. 42% Growing in Christ is quite a huge percentage and we do not know how long these people have been saved or attending GCC. To minister to that many new-believers in a single church is a big challenge. I think GCC will probably put a huge effort in addressing the spiritual growth of these new Christians.

A false convert will not desire the deeper things of the Word.

Any convert (false or true) can get stuck in some stage of their growth. According to the REVEAL study material I have read so far a lot of Christians get stuck at the “Close to Christ” stage and do not move on to Christ centred living. This is true in all the churches the study have been done which are not all seeker sensitive or seeker driven churches.

97   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
August 26th, 2008 at 10:24 am

At the risk of diverging from the OP, I’d like to add that we should not be going to church for what we get out of it. It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus.
I know everyone who commented so far knows that, so I’m not trying to insult you.

But when I remember that it’s not about me, it affects how I view the weekly get-together we so commonly call “church.”

The teaching then, whether meat or milk or cottage cheese, should glorify God in the hearts of those listening and compel them to GO and share that love.

It’s not about me.
It’s about Jesus.
It’s about drawing others into His loving embrace.

When I was teaching regularly at our young adult gathering, we had a group of teachers who met every week. We would start with prayer for our hearts and for the hearts of our congregation. And then we would study the passage together that one person was going to teach on that week. We studied in community. We taught that way. And we asked for and received feedback. The goal was always to help our hearers fall deeper in love with Jesus and to share that love with others.

Corporate worship charges our batteries to go out and expend that energy. Out private devotions causes us to fall deeper in love with Jesus and to go out and share that love with a world who desparately needs His healing touch.

It’s all about Jesus.

98   nc    
August 26th, 2008 at 11:42 am

hmmm…a couple things:

the more I think about this discussion, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that “mature” believers would have the humility to not even label themselves as such…but would only keep on seeking to grow, being acutely aware of their own shortcomings.

Also, I think a truly “mature” believer would also necessarily seek to serve, use their gifts, etc. not sit around navel gazing while getting “their meat”.

just thinking out loud…

99   Joe C    
August 26th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

What I would like to hear from you all is how you think we should help people to become self-feeders

Gene,

Yeah I didn’t as much address the “how” as the “we need to do this”. The other writers here have put together plenty of articles on how to become self-feeders, and while I could write a whole other article on it, I think just telling you what we do in the discipleship Bible study here would suffice.

Basically we follow the concepts found in 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”

And also 1 Cor. 4:16-17 it says “Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. ” And in 1 Cor. 11:1 it says “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”

So basically we handle it by leading by example. The ‘trainer’, ‘mentor’, discipler, whatever you want to call him/her takes the baby under their arm and leads him by showing them how to feed himself, pray, worship, serve all, and love etc etc. The baby will see the teacher reading the Bible everyday, doing a Bible study, praying, fellowshipping and loving the brothers, and this ‘witness’ speaks wonders in to affecting change and growth in their life. You’re also teaching and sharing with them what you’ve learned from the ones who trained you. It’s a great proccess and it’s worked wonderfully for us for years. I’ve seen myself, and other Christians I’ve had the honor of serving by discipling them grow up so much in Christ, it’s great. It’s all under the foundation of Jesus telling us to make disciples by teaching them what He’s taught us.

So practically speaking, that’s how we do it.

“A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. ” Luke 6:40

Peace

Joe