Having been in Christian ministry for over 25 years, I have seen and experienced just about everything you can imagine used as an excuse to leave a church.
I have seen the power plays certain folks have used to manipulate and influence the pastor or his leadership board. I have witnessed total fabrications to bring down pastors and leaders; some have worked and some have failed.
I recall years ago, going to an event in Chicago; it was a seminar titled; “Turnaround Churches.” It was a seminar designed to help struggling churches move forward after a difficult leadership breakup or church split.
Our church happened to be doing very well at the time I went to the seminar, and I felt somewhat out of place.
We were going around the room hearing horror stories of church splits and dysfunctions from various pastors, who had come from all over the country, to attend this seminar.
I recall sitting next to one pastor from a large Midwest church. I asked him what brought him to the seminar. He told me, that about a month ago, over 100 families walked out of his church! I was stunned; I thought to myself, it must have been a very serious moral failure of some sort.
I asked him what happened; I was not prepared for his answer. He looked at me with frustration and sorrow in his eyes, then said; “The families left because we chose the wrong color of carpet for the sanctuary.” That’s just crazy!
Having spoken to dozens of folks who have left churches for various reasons, one of the more prominent excuses I have heard over the years is this one . . . “I left the church because I was not getting fed by the pastor.”
This excuse places the fault squarely with the pastor and releases the churchgoer from any responsibility. When this excuse is given, it casts doubt on the ability of the pastor to give that person the type of “spiritual food” they want to consume.
It is a clear indication that the person making this accusation, possibly has come to the church as a consumer, not as a true follower of Jesus. It reminds me of this warning given to Timothy from the apostle Paul . . .
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires . . . “
After a great deal of consideration, I have concluded that the role of a pastor is not to feed the people, but rather it is to teach them how to cook! Let me explain my thoughts . . .
The pastor spends each week considering what type of dish to serve; sometimes he plans far in advance, making sure that all the ingredients come together in just the right fashion.
He works to prepare a single dish; tasty and full of spiritual nutrients; not loaded down with excessive sweetness; but balanced and appropriate for the day at hand.
Occasionally the dish will be heavy with items not usually served; but necessary. Just like trying to get children to “eat their greens” so a pastor may serve meals that look unsavory at times.
The dish is prepared and served, typically on a Sunday morning. Remember, it is only one dish; not enough for everyone to gorge themselves, but enough for everyone to get a taste; enough to make them hungry for more.
The idea is for the churchgoer to want more; a good pastor will invite them into the kitchen; showing them how to prepare their own meals, so they don’t have to go on a spiritual “fast” all week.
The problem with some folks is that they only get a taste on Sunday, they go away hungry (which is the point of the dish served) unwilling to take off their bib and put on an apron; they complain that the pastor did not feed them enough, when in fact that is really, not his job.
Now to be sure, some pastors cannot cook, and may need to go back to culinary arts school for a season. There are pastors who are serving a dish that is, rancid and inedible; if this is the case, it may be time to find a new restaurant.
Study the ingredients your pastor uses; are they listed in the Cookbook? If they are, then it may be that your palette needs a little cleansing.
Therefore, I encourage you to keep sampling the dish your pastor offers each week. Get involved with a small group and learn how to cook; how to prepare your own tasty dishes and share yours with others.
Come on . . . you can do it!
Besides, you look silly, sitting back there with your arms crossed and bib on!
Open wide . . . num num!