When you go to most institutional churches, it is obvious that the sermon is the main gig. People can be late and miss the time of singing, but still give a sigh of relief because they didn’t miss the sermon. In the place where we attended for a time, no one was allowed in or out of the room during the sermon time so that no one would be distracted.
Due to this focus, people have been trained that they come Sunday morning, sit, and are fed. Whether Sunday morning was “good” or not is all decided on whether the sermon was good, interesting, really touched my heart, or whatever else I want to say about it. I hear the phrase, “I need to be fed,” often in the institutional church…and sometimes in the home church amongst new members. We want the pastor, priest, minister, or teacher to “feed” us. Some people will even switch institutional churches because they “were not being fed.”But in reality, only infants need to be fed.
I’ve never gotten this idea. God teaches us throughout our week, at least he tries to in small whispers if we just listen during our busy lives.
But, the big question is, are our church gatherings supposed to be a lesson time?
I believe this is a twisting of what the church is meant to be. Yahweh made the church (a body of believers) for a purpose. We need one another, but in what way. I think the answer is in the study of spiritual gifts. We are all, as believers, given spiritual gifts. But they are not all teaching, pastoring, evangelism, or apostleship. God gives the gifts hospitality, encouragement, service, mercy. The reason seems to be that we need these things as well.
The problem arises when we see the church as a teaching vending machine. Go get your portion of a lesson. Make me walk out saying, “hmmmm, that was a good sermon” Instead of thinking, “What is my Spiritual gift? Is God calling me to use my spiritual gift right now?”
We gather weekly, and I never think I’m getting together with our church to learn something. This may occur, but it is not my expectation. Instead, because I have been affirmed by our church that one of my spiritual gifts is encouragement, I think about people and their week. I wonder who has struggled, fought with their spouse or child. Who may need my encouragement and listening ear. This is a very different outlook then, “What is the pastor going to feed me this week.”
When we start looking at the church in a different light – a body with many parts fitting perfectly together – Then maybe we’ll stop thinking about “being fed” and think about loving others and doing our part.
Sadly, until the church in a building restructures, I fear that people will be kept as infants and miss out on truly using their spiritual gifts as God intended.