I Corinthians 3:1-3, Hebrews 5:12-13
The one thing I hear the most from Pastors, "you cannot force feed anyone." As I understand that, we cannot make excuses for them either! We need always to be encouraging growth. We need to be excited about being in the word in so many different ways. Sharing testimonies, sharing what God is doing. It is a living word, and if it is not living in us as Pastor's, we cannot expect it in others.
It should discourage us more that people are not hungry, are not seeking, are not desiring to grow and be stronger. I have always said, "I would rather run folks off with the word, letting the word do what is does, and not giving people excuses why they cannot be more involved." When folks come to us as Pastor's, and tell us what they cannot do, what do we do?
In some cases, so we will not chase people away, we certainly don't want the numbers and giving to drop! We tend to allow people to get by, we allow their excuses to control them instead of the word and the Holy Spirit! We allow words like I can't in the body. When we do this we are contradicting God's word!
Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Not some things, not a few things, but all things! When we give in to peoples excuses for lack of growth and involvement, we are telling them is God is limited. He cannot do all things in them! One reason may be, do we as Pastor's really believe God can do all things through us? The Apostle Paul was discouraged with this kind of activity in the body and challenged them. He was not worried about feelings or friendships. He was concerned with their relationships with God!
What we have to ask ourselves, are we Pastor's or buddies? Are we more concerned with church growth, numbers, or spiritual growth, quality? We need to ask ourselves, are we preaching the whole counsel of God or are we watering it down so not to offend? Are we comfortable with people just sitting on the word or standing on the word?
I Corinthians 3:1-4,"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?
When your congregation feels you are their buddy instead of their Pastor, these are the things that can happen in the body. We need to be pushing them to be in the word, to pray, to grow in their relationship with Jesus. That may mean we are not too popular. But we are being Pastor's, and at times we are not going to be the most popular person in church.
We are not God and we cannot force them to change, but we can challenge them with the word, in love, and let God's word do what He promised it would do! It will not return void! Pastor or buddy, numbers or quality, friendship or relationship? It is up to us as Pastor's, Sunday school teachers, group leaders, to preach the word, be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (II Tim. 4:2)