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Tomorrow our family will gather, like most of yours, to celebrate Thanksgiving. I'll be giving thanks for many things this year, but one of the tops is for my kids.

I'm particularly thankful that not one of my kids will ask me to cut up their turkey for them or feed them their cranberry sauce tomorrow. In fact, the girls are ready to help prepare the meal. We won't have any babies with us this Thanksgiving, but if we did, they could feed them their Gerber Turkey and Gravy. This is no big deal, of course. It's just a natural part of growing up.

So why do we so often hear long-time church folks say, "I just need to be fed!"?

I blogged about this the other day (click here to read) and shared about two possible reasons. Today I want to share my thoughts on what we can do.

If you consider yourself a mature Christ follower, you are now responsible to do 2 things: (1) feed yourself and (2) feed others. See Hebrews 5:11-6:1. The writer's main message here is what I'd like to tell those who say, "I just need to be fed!": GROW UP!

Pretty simple and should be pretty natural as we develop, but for some reason, this is often the exception rather than the rule in churches and small groups.

There is no magic formula here. Your way of feeding yourself may be very different than mine, but I will share here how I am making room in my own life to feed myself.

When I was a young Christian, I read the Scriptures kind of like a young child reads a picture book. I wasn't going for a whole lot of depth, just getting some basic understanding of the Bible. I read through the whole Bible, but could not have told you much more than the basic story. It was good; I needed that introduction to God's Word, and I was just learning how to feed myself as I read through it. But (and here's the important part) I'm glad I'm not still reading the Bible that way.

Today I read with more concentration, and by that I don't mean mental focus as much as I mean intensity or purity, like a laundry detergent is more concentrated. So now I read less, usually much less, Scripture each day, but I really take time to hear from God in what I read that day. This is the spiritual practice of meditation or reflection on God's Word.

I take an hour or two each day and I usually read one chapter of Scripture, sometimes even less, depending on how I sense the Holy Spirit leading me. Sometimes I read the passage from two or three or more versions. I read a couple good Bible commentaries. (My favorite right now is Warren Wiersbe's commentary set, although I also consult several others as well. I use WordSearch, so all of this is right there in one place.) I also journal my thoughts as I meditate on the Word, writing what I hear God saying, and I often include a prayer.

I'm just finishing reading through the minor prophets. Lots of people skip over these, thinking they're boring or irrelevant. As you learn how to feed yourself from the meat of God's Word, however, you'll find, as I have how much rich flavor and nutrients God has placed in these books. If you will take the time, God will reveal himself and his will through these passages like you've never seen before. You can do this. Your small group members can do this. It must become just as normal and natural as learning to feed ourselves from the dinner table.

Once I begin feeding regularly on God's Word myself, I can also feed others as well. But notice that I used the word begin. You don't have to have it all completely figured out to start feeding others.

When my kids were very young, I began involving the older kids in helping to feed the younger ones. So 3-year-old Jordan would hold Dru's bottle in his mouth. Four-year-old Sarah would feed Annie her strained peas. Yeah, it was messy sometimes, but it was worth it!

Tomorrow I won't be feeding my kids their Thanksgiving meals. And not one will say, "Daddy, I just need to be fed!" They've learned how to do that long ago. Now it's time that you and the members of your group learn to do the same in your growing relationships with God. I'm writing more about that in my new book, Small Group Vital Signs, to be released early next year.

How would you respond to someone who says, "I just need to be fed!"?

How can you as a leader help your group members learn how to feed themselves?

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Comment by Michael Mack on December 9, 2010 at 7:53am
Amen, Walter! I had a similar discussion with some folks on our team at church. We were discussing the fact that some so-called mature Christians were leaving to find other churches where they would be fed. I suggested that maybe we needed to rethink out definitions of who is and who isn't "mature." Perhaps we assume people are mature because they've been around for awhile or they are involved in certain church programs or they go to a lot of Bible studies or even that they've assumed a position of leadership. But the bilbical definition is that they have learned to feed themselves and they are feeding others. We need to disciple people from the start with this in mind. I believe that takes some one-on-one attention in the midst of a healthy, small, Christ-centered community where people know one another and are caring for each other.
Comment by Walter Merilic on December 8, 2010 at 8:32pm
If you call yourself a "mature christian" and you're still saying this I would question your maturity. I would tell them the truth, you just need to feed yourself and not depend on only others to do it for you. Most people dont let thier mothers feed them as they get older, they do it theirselves. This is a lame excuse for mature christians. Some people are lazy and expect to understand the bible through osmosis. Like anything it takes work. In Rev. 3:15-16 Jesus says "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth"(NIV). God does not want lukewarm christians he wants people who worship him in Spirit and in Truth, people who are on fire for him.

This is where good discipleship comes in. If we teach babes in Christ to feed themselves from the start we would have less people using excuses. We need to have better bible studies in church. I've been to some church where they just read other inspirational books and study them. We need to be studying the bible. And we need to have leaders teaching others how to study the Word. But before that we need to make sure the leadership knows how to study the bible. And most importantly it's up to the person to disciplin themselves to study. We cant force them(babes in Christ) to study.

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