Gay Brunt Miller
I love watching birds, especially in the spring when they build nests, lay eggs, hatch, and then care for their young. I am particularly fascinated by watching babies who have fledged but continue to follow their parents around, mouths wide open, waiting to be fed.
At some point, however, I begin to wonder when they will be mature enough to feed themselves. Even when they appear the same size as their parents, they hop behind their parents, loudly chirping, “Feed me! Feed me!” They appear big enough to get their own food, which is right at their feet, yet they expect their parents to drop the food into their gaping mouths.
I often hear people in the church talking about “being fed.” It’s the reason people frequently give for leaving a congregation or not liking a pastor. “I’m just not being fed.” This brings to mind the image of those full-sized babies crying “Feed me!”
Are we like those baby birds? Do we expect to be fed for the rest of our lives? Or do we, at some point, become the feeders?
As we and our congregations move from passively accepting our status as “the quiet in the land” to opening our hearts and our congregations to engage the world around us with God’s mission, I contend that more of us will need to become “feeders” rather than crying to “be fed.”
Many people around us need and are looking for the Good News that God is inviting us to share. Church is not just about us, and the Good News is not just for us. It is intended to be Good News for a world that is desperately looking for Good News. And many of those searching do not have a foundation on which to build. They need milk and are not ready for the meaty teaching for which those who are more mature in Christ may long (1 Corinthians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 9:7, Hebrews 5:13).
So how do we nurture those who are new to the journey without losing our own souls? Where do we get our solid food? I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that part of the answer is that more of us who have been on the journey for a while will need to step up and become the feeders. We can’t expect to continue to be fed. In assuming the responsibility to feed others, I believe we will also learn to feed ourselves (Hebrews 5:12 …though by this time you ought to be teachers…).
Are we ready for solid food? Are we ready to become part of the solution? Or will we continue to say, “Feed me!”?