You Can’t Preach The Word Unless You Eat The Bird!

Disclaimer:  The following should not be interpreted as a complete condemnation of pot-luck dinners and fried chicken.   

Chicken and Baptists go hand in hand like Oreos and milk.  Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish which job is more important.  The eating or the preaching.  If you go to any Baptist gathering where many pastors have gathered you will see two things:  1.  They will be eating.  2.  Many are, uh, how can we say this. . .husky? (wow, that wasn’t politically correct, was it?)  Two years ago at the  Baptist Convention my brother-in-law said, “Wow, those guys are puttin’ a hurtin’ on those suits!”  He was right.  I have come to the conclusion that the buttons on pastor’s shirts must be stronger than most people’s, because those buttons are holding back years of pot-luck dinners and hundreds of banana puddings.   

Why do preachers fight the battle of the buldge so much?  I think it could be because the eating has become more important than the preaching.  In many cases, the bird is more important than the word.  Rural churches are especially susceptible to this because of the family atmosphere that exists in most rural churches.   We call it “fellowship”, but biblical fellowship is so much more than a meal.  Biblical fellowship is centered around the preaching, reception, and practice of God’s Word.  Biblical fellowship has more to do with carrying each others burdens than with pot-luck.  Biblical fellowship has more to do with “hearing and doing”, than with eating and burping.  We have become churches centered around the bird.  How do I know this (besides the obvious pastoral waistlines)?  Because people show up for meals.  They show up to play softball.  They show up for game night.  If your church has a gymnasium, they show up to play basketball and volleyball.  THEY SHOW UP FOR FELLOWSHIP!  Increasingly though people don’t show up for Sunday morning Sunday School.  They don’t show up for preaching.  They don’t show up to pray at Wed. night prayer meeting. . . unless, of course, there is a meal attached.     

“I’m tired by Wed. night!”  “Sunday is the only day I have to rest.”  You can generally translate “tired” and “rest” as “there is something way more important than evangelism, discipleship, prayer, or preaching that I must do”.  The amazing reality, though, is that the same tired and unrested people can fish, hunt, and attend any number of Nascar races and ball games without blinking an eye.  I think preachers have led the way.  Quite frankly, it is easier to “fellowship” than it is to challenge a church with strong biblical preaching.  Preachers, including myself, get used to the pampering.  We get used to the calm created when the abrasive Word is somewhat held in check.  A preacher should be a prophet (truth teller).  It is our job to preach the “whole counsel of God’s Word”.  It would be so great if a church’s fellowship was centered more around obedience to God’s Word, rather than the many ways we can cook the bird.                 

Published in: on February 18, 2008 at 7:10 pm  Comments (5)  


  1. Well said, Pastor.

    I also think that in today’s church where we like our comfort, we have missed the “carrying one another’s burdens” part of fellowship as well. We want to be comfortable rather than be exposed to the needs of others, for then we might have to meet those needs. We hide our own needs because 1) we want others to think we have it all together and 2) we know that deep down, our needs won’t really get met because every one (including us) is into the quick and easy, microwave fix.

  2. Comfort is killing us. I’m not sure if we could meet if we didn’t have padded pews and air conditioning. . . and chicken.

  3. I have two thoughts… You know a good preacher when you see one by the size of his belly (I’ve got some work to do!!!) And perhaps we have miss understood “carry each other’s burdens” to mean we should carry each other’s covered plate to the fellowship hall. It’s like I’ve always said… when you meet St. Peter at the pearly gate don’t forget to bring your covered plate. (my personal addition to the Baptist Faith and Message)

  4. I love your blog. And, I bet this posting makes a lot of sense at most all churches. But, I gotta say, I’ve been extremely fortunate. My brothers and sisters at my present church and also at my previous church have been super fantastic. Those in my Sunday School class are far from perfect. But, they can always be found at every preaching service and every prayer meeting. I believe the other SS classes at my present church work pretty much the same way. If any one of us had to deal with a death, every last member could be counted on for prayers, visits, long talks, and maybe even some fried chicken. More importantly really is that we share our faults with some frequency. During those critical 60 minutes before the worship service, we do study the Bible. But, we also let loose a little and share our requests, faults and sins. We pray for each other and sometimes hold each other accountable. More would be better and in keeping with Biblical mandate. Oh, what a glorious place the church can be. I need it and I’m in love with it. Having said all that, THANKS for your blog brother. It is always a good place to kick my butt out of apathy and complacency.

  5. Hey there net,
    Thank you for your kind words. I too am a part of a church that “gets it”. Again, thanks for stopping by.

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