Malnourished Churches

This topic came my way via a tweet.  It’s a blog by a guy I hadn’t heard of named Steven Furtick about the common complaint of the North American church that it is malnourished spiritually.  He hits the nail right on the head in my opinion, though, so even though I have no idea who he is I am going to blog it.  For those who aren’t familiar with the phrase, it comes out of a few places in Scripture about taking care of our spirits, too, like we would take care of our bodies, whether that is through community, worship, prayer, bible study, or something else.

Most American Christians aren’t malnourished because of what they’re getting fed on Sunday. They’re malnourished because they don’t feed themselves Monday through Saturday. (emphasis his)

I definitely like the idea, and I think it is totally true.  To keep using the food analogy, you wouldn’t think that eating for an hour every week would be sufficient to keep your well nourished the rest of the week.  So why do we do that with spiritual food?  And I do think that it is often true that those leading on Sunday mornings can do a better job.  Sometimes churches I think see that people aren’t eating the rest of the week so don’t want to “offend” people by giving much substance on Sunday mornings.  Which I imagine feeds back into the cycle of congregants not bothering to spiritually feed themselves the rest of the week because they aren’t having it modelled for them.  So maybe in a lot of cases churches do need to be the ones to break the cycle by really shocking people with a hearty meal on Sunday morning.  And in other cases it is also frequently true that people need to stop trying to live on one meal a week.

Church shouldn’t be a once a week thing.  The feeding we get there should be a part of our lives all the time.  A couple of weeks ago I was talking to one of my classmates, a middle-aged woman who is interested in trying to revive interest for youth in the mainline.  Me being “youth” I guess I qualified as a good person to talk to.  We discussed a few things like using technology and being willing to break some traditions, but the thing that she seemed to absolutely love hearing as we talked about things that evangelicals usually do better for young people is the idea of church as something that is happening all the time and not just Sunday mornings.  That satisfies people a lot more, but the difference is that young people would rather just stop doing the one meal a week when that isn’t enough, while older people will usually keep going Sunday and feel empty the rest of the week.  Young people are more often all or nothing.  I told her something that one of my leaders of a campus group drilled into me:

Church is doing life together.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.