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nigel pollock: sated area

In London last year I saw a miss-spelled sign outside a restaurant which I rather liked. The sign writer had missed out an “e” so instead of “seated area downstairs” it read “sated area downstairs”. [NB: according to the dictionary, ‘to sate’ is to feed to the full]. The idea that there is an area downstairs where you can be sated appeals to me. In this room people sit back, full and happy, filled up to the brim, their hunger vanquished.

We live in the age of the foodie. Cooking programmes, books and classes continue to grow in popularity. What would the anticipation be if the word got out in the community that Gordon, Delia, Jamie or Nigella were providing Sunday lunch in the local church? My guess is that there might be queues of the hungry and the curious quietly salivating at the prospect of what lay in store.

If only the seated areas in our church services could be sated areas. Places where the flock are nourished and leave full, fed by the word of God and refreshed by the Spirit of God, having had a slap-up meal with the people of God, with the Son of God at the head of the table.

The primary job of the pastor is to feed the flock. You may be relieved to know that we don’t have to become celebrity chefs. But we do need to cook. The best cuisine usually involves fresh local produce, some basic principles in practice and a bit of creative flair.

You can’t download food from the Internet. I am not saying the technology to do this will never arrive but at the time of writing the best you can do is download a recipe, watch You Tube demonstrations, or access a culinary blog. The Internet can give you ideas and inspiration but you still need to cook.

I believe in presentation, in creativity, in ambience, in hospitality, in conversation and in humour. But a dinner party with all these things brilliantly done but without food will leave the guests hungry. And hungry guests leave.

If we want to see the flock fed we need to spend time working with the food. Thinking about how we nourish those who are coming not just how we entertain or stimulate them.

Spiritual babies need pure spiritual milk, and our desire is to move people on in maturity so that they can digest adult food. I meet many people struggling to stay spiritually alive in the workplace because they are malnourished. Junk food and snacking can keep you going for a while but a junk food diet will not lead to health and wholeness in the long-term.

I commented to a group of Kiwi pastors that I was concerned that preaching was not a priority in many churches. One of them spoke to me afterwards to put me straight. “Preaching IS a priority in my ministry. It is definitely in the top ten, probably number four or five”. I asked him how he would feel about going to a restaurant that put food as its fourth or fifth priority. He said that he probably wouldn’t want to go but that he didn’t see my point. Which kind of was my point.

So, fellow chefs, shepherds and spiritual caterers, what I am trying to work out in all this is:

  1. When Jesus tells Peter to “feed his lambs”, what did he mean and how do we do that today?
  2. When Peter and Paul speak about milk and solid food, how do we provide appropriate nourishment that helps people grow to maturity in our preaching?

* * *

    Nigel Pollock has a passion for effective evangelism, whole life discipleship and encouraging the next generation of people of influence.  He is married to Ailsa and they have three boys; Luke (15), Jamie (13) and Craig (9).  The family live in Wellington, where Nigel is National Director of TSCF (Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship). Nigel travels extensively around the Pacific Rim and beyond.  Nigel is the author of “Unconditional” and the best-selling “Relationships Revolution“.


    1. Anthony Rimell says:

      Excellent point! At our church we have begun to take seriously the preaching of the Word on a structured, book-based basis. Already people are commenting that those sermons which dig deeper are touching spiritual and practical issues they have either never thought about or had not touched for decades. Shick, horror: people actually DO want to be fed on good food! They eat snacks becasue that is all we are giving them.

    2. Paul Windsor says:

      Nigel – thanks for this…

      One issue I discern in our Kiwi context is that the emphasis is often on the need for good exercise after we have had a feed. The focus is not so much on the feeding itself – but on what we do with the feed. If nothing much is done, this then reflects badly on the feeding in the first place. Indeed it is inherently poor feeding because it did not lead to exercise … and so, the argument goes, the only feeding we should have is that which does lead directly to exercise. This is a recipe for a dumbed-down moralistic and motivational brand of preaching…

      This has not been by own experience. As I rewind my life in light of your post, it is those times of gluttonous feeding for feeding’s sake to the point of feeling sated that have been so influential. Maybe there is where the analogy breaks down as gluttony is not good! But I cannot find any immediate exercise in my life following those times and yet somehow they shaped me for life, slowly and imperceptibly. Major conferences like an Urbana. Or a period in intensive theological training. This is where our Kiwi focus on ‘exercise’ can be unhelpful. It tends to drive us to what we do with hands and feet and heart more immediately – rather than value the slow and imperceptible shaping of our minds which is so critical over a lifetime.

      Can I add one more reflection?
      I liked your comments about celebrity chefs. They are only a download away for people. Driscoll. Keller. Bell… They can be such an intimidating presence for our week-in, week-out preachers. ‘How can I match that quality?’ Our preachers need encouragement. They need to hold their nerve. Because there is nothing quite like the unspectacular cooking that comes from a chef who then sits down at the table with the family, the community, whom they love deeply and whom they know intimately. No internet download will ever match this.

      Thanks again


    3. Josie Te Kahu says:

      Im sending this to my Pastor 🙂 He does a great job of feeding us weekly, and I tell him so most weeks..but I want him to know I really mean what I say..not just making Sunday morning pleasantries :)-

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