My son is 19 months old and he's learning to feed himself. It's messy, but some food gets into his mouth (the rest ends up on the floor).
Every time he starts to feed himself, I think of the phrase I hear Pastors say in reference to Christians who want the messages to be "deeper". They say something along the lines of, "You don't want me to feed you. You need to be feeding yourself."
While I believe that Christians should learn to read the Bible for themselves and practice the basic disciplines for growth and maturity, this rhetoric is deeply flawed.
#1 – The Bible teaches that Pastors and teachers are gifts to the Church (Eph. 4:11) – Pastors and teachers are called to teach God's Word to believers as well and unbelievers (2 Tim. 4:2) Believers aren't called to grow up spiritually without Pastors and teachers encouraging them, instructing them and deepening their understanding of God's Word.
#2 – "Feeding yourself" shouldn't be our only goal – A Pastor who sets "Christians should feed themselves" as the goal is like a Parent who sets their children reading on their own as the goal to they don't have to read books to their kids anymore. Instead, Pastors should set the godly development and maturity of every believer as their goal. That involves more than believers reading the Bible for 10 minutes a day (although that's a good start). My point is that "feeding yourself" is a good start but not the end of the road.
#3 – Many Pastors who say "Learn to feed yourself" came from Christian home and/ or went to seminary – Obviously I'm speaking in generalities here, but I did not grow up in a Christian home. So when I came to know Jesus at 19, I'm glad that I went to a church where they taught me God's Word and didn't tell me to just "feed myself". They taught me God's Word and I gained a desire to know God and understand the Bible that hasn't worn off in almost 18 years. My point is that it's easy to say "feed yourself" when you went to 4 years of Bible college and already have a solid handle on the Bible. You got discipled. Those in your church simply want the same thing.
#4 – Maturity leads to deeper conversation – I look forward to the day my son has mastered feeding himself. That means he and I will be able to deal with topics that are deeper in significance. However, what I see in most contemporary churches is repetition of the same topics geared towards unchurched people and almost a frustration towards Christians who aren't thrilled to hear the same topic repackaged from last year.
My goal here isn't to be controversial. I simply believe that our call as Pastors is bigger than getting new believers to spend the 1st few minutes of their day with Jesus. It's about seeing men and women saved and leading them from infancy to maturity in Christ.