I have three grown children. I love them and am grateful for who they have become. I enjoyed being a parent at every phase of my children’s lives, including adulthood. And I have been teaching other parents how to raise their children since mine were toddlers through counseling and parenting classes.
Now, imagine my 40-year-old son bursting into one of those classes yelling “Dad, I’m hungry. I need you to feed me!” because he couldn’t feed himself.
I suspect you would question my parenting abilities.
It is the parent’s responsibility to raise his or her children to be responsible and capable. If they can’t feed themselves, it says something about how we raised them. It is our job to teach and train our children so that, when they are adults, they are ready and capable of being adult servants of the King.
God provided His children with the spiritual nourishment we need. But many of us are malnourished because we don’t know how to feed ourselves. Instead, we find a preacher or teacher we like (meaning s/he tends to say things we like) and try to live on a weekly helping of the Word—digested and given back to us like a baby bird eating what his mother has brought him. When we tire of the preacher we say “We aren’t being fed!” and move on to the next, and the next, and the next.
There is a lot of debate about whose fault this is. I have come to the point where I don’t care. The fact is we have a generation of people who call themselves Christian who don’t know the Word and don’t know how to study it.
This is important.
Why do young people fall prey to the false teaching of the world?
Why do so many of us struggle with love and forgiveness?
Why is our prayer life focused on ourselves?
Why has worship become a spectator sport for so many?
Of course, there are other things involved, but in my experience when someone knows the Word, they are far less likely to fall into these traps.
What’s the answer?
Christians need to rediscover the joy of studying God’s Word themselves—not reading it and discussing it, but actually studying it. Virtually every Christian is capable of studying the Bible at a level that exceeds what they’re being taught. It isn’t complicated—God is a great communicator. But God apparently intended for us to put effort into the study of His word (2 Timothy 2:15), and those who claim to follow Jesus need to be willing to do this!
Christian leaders need to rediscover the joy of training their people so that they don’t need to be fed because they are feeding themselves. We need to experience the joy of seeing people who have been as dependent on us as babies being able to search the scripture for themselves because we have taught them how.
This will take some adjustment. This step will be as hard for leaders as for individual Christians because few of us have been trained to do this. But we can do it, and we have to if Christians are to be able to faithfully follow the King in confusing and stressful times like ours.
The Essential Faith Project is committed to helping anyone who wants to make Christians able to feed themselves! Within the next few months, two resources will be made available through our website: www.essentialfaithproject.org. One will be an online course training Christians to study the Word, the other will be a set of session plans to assist Christian leaders in training their people.
Know Jesus, and Be Faithful!