Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

Meat for the Masses?

man v food

In the Bible, “meat” is used to describe deeper doctrinal teaching.  In contrast to “milk” which is for babes, meat is for more mature believers, who are equipped to handle, or digest it properly.  It is popular among some churches to serve up as much meat as possible on any given Sunday morning.  This kind of “deep” teaching can be very popular, even attractive.  I mean, who doesn’t want to learn “some NEW thing”?  (ref. Acts 17:21)

So what’s wrong with that?  Personally, after years of following gifted Bible teachers I have done my fair share of listening to these meaty messages as well as teaching them myself to the Sunday morning crowd.  But is the entire Sunday morning crowd at any church mature enough for such teaching?  I will argue that they are not.  Certainly not all of them.  I have been guilty of giving too much doctrine to young, immature believers.  Sure they were impressed and they enjoyed it and kept coming back – but really all I was doing was giving them weapons to be able to go out and tear other people down.  I have since repented of that action and have worked to improve my communication to be more appropriate to my audience.

This thought is clearly communicated in 2Peter 1:5  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;.  According to this, knowledge is to be added to virtue – not to faith!  Once a person begins their new life in Christ, by faith, they will grow IF they follow God’s prescription:  start with virtue (not knowledge).  In other words, start demonstrating that you are willing to actually put into practice what little you already know (“milk”) before you start to eat “meat”.

In our church, I resist dishing out the meat on Sunday mornings.  We offer the deeper teaching ONLY to those that respond to God by following through with a personal discipleship program that we use and by faithfully participating weekly in a small group of peers in our church.  If a person doesn’t take these elementary steps, then they are really not “virtuous”.   This is intentional.  It is our strategy.  I know there are people that want the meat – but typically they are also people that are not currently doing anything in the body of our church.  Those that are participating have the opportunity for the deeper teaching and take advantage of that.

I offer this discussion to you simply to present the strategy of providing what I call “appropriate feeding.”  Resist the urge to give the deepest, most controversial doctrine to the masses and expect them to live virtuously before they get more knowledge.  We church leaders have to be strategic.  We have to have a plan and we have to implement that plan.  If people leave our churches because they want the “meat” without the responsibility then so be it.  We can’t compromise our responsibility as good shepherds and parents just because our “kids” are stomping their feet or throwing a tantrum.

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I agree. The good thing about milk, even for older, hopefully more mature Christians, is that milk strengthens the bones. Even though meet is essential for the more mature Christian to grow, so is milk, it strengthens the foundations of the body to grow. What happens to our bones as we get older? they sometimes get weak because of a lack of essential nutrition and our body isn’t as strong as it should be.

 
 

I am looking forward to the main course next Sunday.

 
 

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