Enabling vs. empowering
The Old Testament characters, Abraham and Moses, stand out as men of great faith. It is interesting to note that the greatest “works” that they performed were after God had invested significant time in their character development.
For example, God didn’t just tell Abraham to raise his knife over his son, Isaac one day out of the blue. He promised Abraham that his offspring would come through Isaac, who was a son from his ‘own loins’. Maybe Abraham didn’t know how the two could be harmonized (sacrifice of his son with offspring through the same son), but God spent a lot of effort working on his character before the dramatic request.
Moses, too, was worked on as God orchestrated his life to be a shepherd. This was surely a very lowly job for a prince of Egypt. And, it took 1/3 of his life (40 years). God invested quite a bit into Moses’ character before He told him to lead Israel.
In both cases, God did not spoon-feed his children. He helped them to develop what they would need to in order to perform extrodinarily. God didn’t just drop a “Holy Spirit Bomb” on them and they were instantly transformed. God spent decades making them into the people who met their destiny.
Likewise, in education and in the particular churches in this country, there is a tendency to have a low view of the people of the church. They are seen as people who need to be spoon-fed and who can’t be trusted to meet their own basic needs. Instead of empowering people within the church, Pastors may see their role as an effort to be a shepherd. This becomes convoluted as the assumption that the sheep don’t know anything runs in the background.
Thus, the pastor may assume that the people of the congregation are children. The pastor then works hard to research and study and create a professional Bible study. He leads and directs the people in this way, but may not be assessing the abilities of the people within his congregation correctly. By continuing to do all the theological thinking and work, the congregants never become mature. They always defer to the pastor.
The pastor is supposed to do this, and this and that. Congregation members feel the comfort of being treated like a child who is in arrested development. They live in a dysfunctional home where they are never asked to produce anything. Eventually, they will point the blame at the leadership.
Hopefully this is not the path of your church. Hopefully, each person is becoming ‘activated’ for self-feeding. Hopefully, they feel that they can contribute to the effort of the church. Hopefully, the pastor and other leaders help to empower them to become mature in their faith rather than enabled in their immaturity.
For God’s sake, it is Christ’s will …