The following is a guest post by Barry Smith of YouChoose.Community, a friend, veteran church planter, assessor, coach, author and nonprofit founder.
We’ve all heard it, and it can be paralyzing: “I’m just not getting fed anymore!”
It’s a dagger to the heart. It’s the comment that breaks the pastor’s back. The phrase that makes the most pious planter want to cuss like a sailor. It’s the excuse, if repeated, that can make us want to quit.
It could be a façade they’re hiding behind. But you know you’ve been preaching your best stuff and nothing has changed. Let’s assume they legitimately feel this way. What’s the basis for this ridiculousness?
1. The pastor and/or preaching has changed
They’ll say something like, “Things just aren’t the same. It used to be so exciting and interesting. The pastor was so passionate. It’s like everything he said spoke directly to me. But now I just can’t relate as much. I’m just not getting fed anymore. I want deeper teaching.”
A bad way to respond: “Every pastor knows that a person’s discipleship is their own responsibility. To give credit to or put blame on a weekend service is shortsighted, if not ludicrous. Grow up, parishioner, and take responsibility for your own growth!”
2. The church got too big
“It’s like no one notices me anymore. I don’t know anybody. And when I miss a service, nobody calls me.”
What you might think to yourself: “Are you flippin’ kidding me? Too many people are getting saved and growing in their faith? How horrible. We’ll immediately kick some people out so you can be more comfortable. You’ve probably already disconnected, stopped tithing, or never even got involved in growing in the first place.”
3. The focus has changed
“I’m just not sure I buy into the vision anymore. It’s turned into a big show. And all you do is ask for money and tell us to invite our neighbors. It seems like you only care about unchurched people. What about me? Don’t you care about me anymore?”
Your flesh reacts: “Of course we care about you, fool. Think about it… it was all of this horrible outreach mentality and concern for people outside the walls of our church that actually connected you to our body. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even know Jesus if it weren’t for our church.”
A More Spirit-Led Response
There is a solution to all this insanity: start a 3/3 (three thirds) group. These groups have been called many things over the years:
- faith community
- house church
- missional community
- small group
- discipleship group
It doesn’t matter what you call them. What’s most important is what happens in the group.
The Three Thirds
The top of the fraction stands for the 3 topics of the group:
They are like the 3 legs of a stool: if one is short or missing, the whole stool is off kilter.
The bottom of the fraction represents that 1/3 of the total time is spent on each topic. They are equal in importance. Too many discipleship settings spend time exclusively in Bible study, memorization, and prayer. Obviously, those things are important. But they miss inviting the Spirit to lead them in applying what they’ve learned, and then sharing at the next meeting how they did at obeying what God told them to do.
The 3/3 group gains further success by its being made up of their 11 closest family and friends. They never have to birth, split, branch, or multiply. These 12 gather on a weekly basis and spend time studying Scripture, applying it to their lives, and holding one another accountable in a loving environment. And when you get each of them to have a top three list of people they’re praying will meet Jesus, AND to help other groups form as well – that’s going to produce disciples who make disciples.
When everyone spends an equal amount of time in each of these three legs, they will consistently obey what the Holy Spirit leads them to do.
Nobody can be “just not getting fed anymore”! Growth is all but guaranteed! And this type of discipleship group eliminates most weekend service complaints because everyone is getting fed by God and not a weekend service. This is humbling to the primary communicator… but it is effective.
I’ve known Barry for almost 20 years and love his heart for reaching people and starting new things. He’s the founder of YouChoose.Community – an online ministry where you choose when, where, how, and with whom you do faith. YouChoose has communities in California, Indiana and India. You can learn more at www.YouChoose.Community, www.barryonline.com and Family With Purpose, a company through which he and his wife serve families.