Category Archives: Religion

There’s Still Power In Grassroots Ministry

Grassroots or small ministry has become a dirty word amongst the people. These days, everybody wants to start at the top. Even those that are on the bottom have aspirations that are beyond their meager beginnings. It seems as if they haven’t even asked God if they’re where they’re supposed to be before telling God where they want to go. Nobody wants to plant anymore. We all want to go straight to harvest season.

Nobody wants to be that “little church on the corner” anymore, but little church principles are sorely needed these days. We need to reconnect with that sense of community that we once had as the church. It’s not that everybody knew your business, but there were some people that were concerned about your business, meaning that they cared about what you were going through.

These days, we seem to be isolated both inside and outside of the church. People want to be elevated these days, not so that they can be of greater service to the body, but so that they can be isolated from the body. Believe it or not, the higher you go within the body, the more you should be seen by the body, and not just on the screen, but on the scene. Jesus did His ministry amongst the people, not apart from them.

At the end of 2018, God arrested my attention once again concerning my little corner of the ministry world. I was wrapping up my 12th book and things were going well in my radio ministry. God told me to stay focused. It’s not that I wasn’t or that I was looking to go somewhere that He hadn’t ordered, but it seems as if God was making a preemptive strike on my conscience. He reminded me that He had me exactly where He wanted me in this little corner of the world. Keep writing. Keep delivering The Word across the airwaves. Keep preaching when called upon. Keep teaching when called upon. He reminded me that this is what’s need. A grassroots approach. Don’t turn to the left or right, and by all means, don’t look to see what others are doing. Do what you’ve been called to do.

I’ve taught in places where there were close to 100 people. I’ve preached before 300 people as well. I know, that may not seem like much to some, but I’m not here to exaggerate numbers. I’m on the radio each week in 6 states, potentially speaking to over 1 million people. I even have a podcast. However, some of my best days as a preacher/teacher have come in rooms where there were less than 10 people. There’s something about seeing the impact of the Word of God on people’s faces up close and personal that brings joy to my soul.

Many have perverted their God-given gifts because they’d rather be on a flyer than in the will of God. We can’t allow our ambitions to get in the way of His mission! Our call is to be more attracted to The Light than we are to the spotlight. Even if you’re on the flyer, why are you on the flyer? What are you bringing? We should never look to be the main attraction on God’s program. It should be our desire to be intentional servants.

The church has become more theatrical than therapeutic. It is the job of an entertainer to find out what people want and like and bring it to the stage, screen, or studio. It is the job of the church to identify what the people need and bring it to their attention, whether they like it or not. The fact is, pleasing in His sight isn’t always pleasing to our ears, but we must surrender anyway.

One of the things I find puzzling in ministry is that many of us know what’s not right, and yet, we continue to do it and encourage it. Even in our large spaces, we see the deficiencies in our people, and we continue to make them weaker. A challenging word isn’t just a word that challenges the faith of the believer as they pray for material increase. A challenging word is a word that echoes 1 Peter 1:16 which tells us to be holy because the God we serve is holy.

In my 2016 book “Are We Still Making Disciples”, I no doubt ruffled some feathers when I suggested that we care more about promoting our events and even ourselves than we do about making disciples, which is the primary function of the church. I made it clear then, and I’ll repeat myself here, I have nothing against promoting the church and having a marketing plan. However, I do have something against promoting us above the church.

Whether it be preacher, evangelist, praise team, singing group, or whatever, nothing should take precedence over Jesus. I stated that anything that happened in the church should be looking to do 3 things: Glorify God, get someone saved, and keep someone connected to God. The question was asked, if people leave your event, will they witness about Jesus or the event itself?

It was John The Baptist who said in the Gospel of John 3:30 that Christ must increase, but he himself must decrease. He wasn’t saying that so that he could end his ministry. He was saying that so that the focus of his ministry could have its proper preeminence. “Church” is still popularity driven, but evangelism is still very much a grassroots effort and souls will always be converted one by one, even if a group of people all get baptized on the same day. Even as 3000 were saved in Acts 2:41, we can’t lose sight of the fact that 3000 individual choices were made, and those 3000 were all there as a result of some grassroots efforts on the part of the Disciples.

The challenge for the church is that we recognize when we have become more popular than Christ and shift the focus. The moment they’re drawn by our name instead of the name of Jesus, we must shift the focus. Come off the flyer if you must or do away with it all together, but make sure that Jesus has preeminence. This may shrink the crowds, and dare I say, force us to be more grassroots in our approach to be sure that we’re drawing the right crowds for the right cause, but being set apart and peculiar doesn’t often lend itself to large crowds anyway.

It was the late singer John Lennon who famously said in 1966 that his band The Beatles were “bigger than Jesus”. People were outraged at such a statement and begin to ban The Beatles music in various places. However, the point Lennon was making went over their heads. He wasn’t suggesting that it was the goal of the band to be bigger than Jesus. He was pointing out the absurdity that they were probably more important to some Christians than their Savior.

The church is still facing this crisis because we’ve made some of the things that we do in our churches “bigger than Jesus”. Many won’t even attend a church function if it doesn’t seem like there’s a possibility that it will be standing room only. Worse yet, some ministry leaders won’t put on an event unless they believe they can draw a certain number of people or get certain people on program. I submit to you that if we sometimes do it small, we’ll find out who’s really coming for the right reason. You’ll find out who’ll come out for an event versus who’ll come out for an encounter!

We’ve rebelled against being small, but effective. In an effort to be seen by man, we’re missing the people that we’ve been commissioned to serve. Grassroots isn’t a dirty word. Small group Bible study isn’t an exercise in futility. We must always remember the basics. Believe it or not, God still has a heart for the remnant. He has yet to despise small beginnings. If you start small, but you start in His name, He’ll still do great things within your ministry. That little church on the corner still has power and she should never abandon her call.

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Read an excerpt from “An Act of Grace”

img_0164Read an excerpt from Rev. Kelly R. Jackson’s upcoming book “An Act of Grace: Forgiveness and Reconciliation God’s Way. Release date for this work is January 25, 2019, but you can place your order now! Click HERE to visit the publishing website and place your order!

It’s about reconciliation. It’s about the relationship.

Forgiveness was never introduced as a mechanism for us to gain control or an upper hand over our fellow man. Instead, it was introduced so that we can have control over our feelings of anger, hostility, and our desire to hold on to grudges tighter than we hold on to relationships. Forgiveness was introduced to us so that we can move on together instead of moving apart from one another. And even in the event that some relationships are altered forever, forgiveness is supposed to be the way in which we depart in peace, with no hard feelings.

One of the things that get us caught up in the misapplication of forgiveness is the fact that we’ve twisted God’s design. If you’re reading these pages, chances are high that you’ve been advised by someone in your life to forgive someone so that you can be done with them, as opposed to moving on from the situation. Not only have I received that advice in my life before, but I’ve actually given it in error. However, if we’re really going to look at this from a Christian perspective and a God perspective, grace, mercy, and forgiveness was never given to us by The Almighty so that He could be done with us.

If you’ve read your Bible as I have, you’ll see that God has always desired a relationship with us, and thus, He keeps forgiveness on the table. He’s not trying to let it go so that He can “get some sleep” or “find some peace”. While those things are important to us as humans, it’s not the basis of forgiveness as God designed it. Forgiveness is what God wants us to do so that we can come together. It’s about reconciliation. It’s about the relationship. I would say that anyone that “forgives” with the mindset of being done with someone hasn’t really forgiven at all, or at the very least, they haven’t forgiven God’s way.

Understand that some relationships will go through several changes in a lifetime before it settles in to what it’s going to be. There will be ups and downs, highs and lows, and good days mixed with not so good days. However, reconciliation must be the goal. Having relationships reconciled doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the same as they were before, but it does mean that they can function. Again, some relationships may not be the same anymore, but that doesn’t mean that there has to be any hard feelings or hostility when we come into contact with one another.

Even if you never speak to a person again, sometimes that’s just how that relationship goes, but the reason for never speaking again shouldn’t be because we’ve hardened our hearts and we’re too prideful to reconcile things. As I’ve often stated, some relationships aren’t broken, they’re just settled. That means you’re not mad at them and they’re not mad at you, but the relationship has run its course and that’s that. God understands that and is even accepting of it. However, what God doesn’t accept is our unwillingness to put things to rest.

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Man must release his desire to be forever offended. There’s been a shift in our thinking that has caused us to desire the grudge, as opposed to getting rid of it. Many of us have fooled ourselves into believing that moving on with a hidden attitude is somehow Christ-like. On the surface, we appear to be taking the high road, but underneath, we’re still bitter and angry on some level. On the surface, we pretend to be cordial, but underneath, our hearts are hardened. We say we’re over it, but if the test of Romans 12:19-20 came along, we’d probably fail it.

What grace does is put the offense in perspective. What Jesus teaches us is relationships are valuable. He teaches us that hidden animosity is still animosity in the eyes of God, and He will not openly release forgiveness while we silently hold things against one another. Consider where you and I would be if we believed that our eternity was secure in Jesus, only to die and find out that God had secretly harbored a grudge against us all of these years and heaven had been taken off the table.

This leads us to the understanding that grace is the antithesis of offense. We can either hold on to offense or we can administer grace. One corrupts the soul, while the other cleanses it. We should never desire to be offended more than we desire to be reconciled. Offense is a burden that even God wants to release. Why would we desire to carry that which God wants to put away?

Copyright 2018 Kelly R. Jackson

The Pew Needs To Read Too

There’s always been a great struggle in the church to get the congregation to read more often. There’s a need for them to open their Bibles more often than just Sunday morning when the Pastor gives his text. The desire is that the pew not only quotes Bible verses, but also studies their Bibles. Yes, we all need to study The Word. But what about supplemental reading that could be beneficial to the congregation? Not just a book full of motivational quotes and inspirational sayings, but books of Christian substance that can draw the believer into a closer relationship with God, and closer to the true call of Christians: Make Disciples!

Something that we as preachers often fall into is building our own libraries, but neglecting to help the pew build theirs. It is vastly important that preachers be well read because there is a lot of great scholarly writing available to us that wasn’t available to preachers in years past. However, what we must remember in our search for higher learning is that we can’t forget about the people we serve and the fact that they need something to read that isn’t necessarily as thorough as what we’re called to read, but just as important to their discipleship and their development.

What we as preachers are often doing when we’re reading is trying to sharpen our skills so that we may rightly divide The Word in a way that the congregation can receive from us. We’re trying to polish our sermons so that there may be some understanding on Sunday mornings. But there is a time where the pew will need more than sermon notes. They’ll need more than our three points and a close. The pew needs to read too.

When I began using my gift of writing exclusively for ministry, I thought my books would be popular amongst my preached brethren, but I soon found that such wasn’t the case. God revealed to me why that is. It wasn’t about any jealousy or animosity or anything like that, because there are some in the ministry that have purchased much of my work. It was about the fact that God didn’t call me to write to other preachers. He called me to help the pew. What I write is redundant to a knowledgeable preacher. It doesn’t appeal to them. However, the pew responds in a much different way. The pew receives it in a way that preachers wouldn’t necessarily. And that was God’s plan.

The fact remains that no matter how much the preachers learn from all of their reading and studying, at some point, the pew is going to have to do some reading and studying of their own if the dots are ever going to be connected. Not just their Bibles, but also some other well-written material to help them to make sense of what their pastors are teaching and preaching. Pastors can’t be insecure about this because the truth of the matter is, if they’ve had any type of advanced schooling, there was some supplemental material that aided in their understanding as well.

What was good for pastors and preachers (additional material) is no doubt good for the pew they’re charged with serving. The connection between the preacher and the pew is often missed because all aren’t committed to study. Additional training is always desired, but there must also be an effort on the part of the congregation to assist in their own growth. Pastors should always have some suggested reading for the pew. Something that may be remedial to them could be monumental in the growth of their congregation. The material is out there. The church as a whole must stop being resistant to it. Otherwise, false and sugarcoated doctrines creep in. The fact remains that if the church is really gonna grow as God intended, all of the study can’t be on the pastor’s shoulders alone. The pew needs to read too.

Your Faith Must Match Your Vision 

God is showing some people some amazing visions these days, myself included. There are businesses that He wants to birth, ministries that He wants to bring to fruition, and dreams that He wants to fulfill. The only thing that can stop us is a lack of faith, not a lack of resources. 

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith. That tells me that impossible is where our dreams die. Impossible is what will cause us to lose when we’re born to win. Impossible is a disappointment to God. Impossible shouldn’t be in our Spiritual nature because it’s not in God’s. 

Scripture also tells us that faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Therefore, if your vision is larger than a mountain, you must increase your faith even more. At the bare minimum, we should all have mustard seed faith. Just imagine what a little boost can do for you. 

Scripture also reminds us that with God, nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37). Therefore, we must remove that word from our vocabulary. The struggle that we have with the gap between our vision and our faith is we’re often in moments of discomfort when the vision comes.  

God shows you the business plan when you’re broke with a mountain of bills. God shows you the plan for the ministry when people are still questioning your call and your ability. God shows you the better career when you’re barely holding on to a job that you hate, but you need for your survival! Yes, God will show you the best of life when it seems that you’re at your worst points. That’s not a time to shrink in your faith. That’s when you must grow! 

I encourage those that may be reading this to see God more clearly than you see your circumstances. You could have all the money in the world, but if you lack faith, you’ll be scared to invest it in your dreams. So see the vision more clearly than you see your lack of income and/or opportunity. God will never lead you to it without a plan to feed you through it. Trust Him more than you fear failure. He’s committed to you. Increase your faith. See the vision clearly. Watch God work!

Monday Morning Disciple: “Following His Righteous Lead”

(Be sure to watch the video above)

“He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” – Psalms 23:3

There’s something about God going before us that makes all the difference in the world. Just look at it as if there’s someone that’s always making sure that whenever you go, things will work out in your favor. Just imagine having a feeling that no matter what the day brings, things will always be alright.

However, we can’t be naive about life. There are difficult days, difficult situations, and difficult people to encounter. Being saved doesn’t mean being trouble free. Having gone to service on Sunday, shouted your heart out, and threatened the devil doesn’t mean he won’t try and get the best of the rest of your week. Your Monday morning discipleship needs to be even stronger than your Sunday morning praise.

As this text says, after a Sunday filled with soul restoration, by Monday morning, God is ready to lead us into the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. He leads into right places because He is a righteous God. So even when we find ourselves in rough places and in the wrong company, we can still be right as long as we’re following God’s lead.

If there’s anything that you can get from our theme verse or even Psalms 23 in its entirety, it’s the fact that we don’t have to become a product or a victim of our surroundings. Don’t leave your Christianity at the benediction. Stay on the path of righteousness all week.

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God knows your heart, and that should concern you 

Whether we really believe it or not, God really does know who we are. That may seem like a strange opening line, but sometimes, I think we forget. When spend so much time trying to put our best foot and face forward to our fellow man, that we forget that God knows the truth about us. And when I say the truth, I mean the WHOLE TRUTH!

It should encourage all of us to know that God loves us in ways that the vast majority of the people we come into contact with in our lives don’t. Some people can’t deal with our habits, issues, and shortcomings, but God is different. Even with all that is wrong with us (and there’s something wrong with all of us), God has the ability to look past it and love us anyway. But, let’s be clear: Just because God loves beyond our flaws doesn’t mean He excuses our flaws. 

Herein is our human problem while dealing with a spiritual God. We want our fleshy ways to be acceptable to God, and that’s just not how it goes. We’re approaching God as we do our fellow man. “I’m not perfect, just accept it!” That’s fine when we’re asking for a little bit of grace from one another, but not when we’re dealing with God. There isn’t a “have to” anywhere in a sovereign God, which means He doesn’t have to put up with any of us. He does what He wants, when He wants, and only has to accept what He wants. 

One of our favorite phrases is this: “God knows my heart”. However, this statement isn’t the defense mechanism that we think it is. It’s a warning. It shouldn’t be a statement to get others off your back, instead, it should be a revelation to whoever decides to speak those words. It’s a reminder that if no one else knows the deepest recesses of your thoughts, your feelings, and yes, your motives, it is The One Being that controls it all. 

Understanding that God knows the heart means understanding that no matter what you try and cover up, it remains exposed to God. No matter what you speak, God knows what you feel. No matter what you do, God knows whether or not you’re sincere. God knowing our hearts means God knows the lie in our lives whether anyone else ever sees the truth or not. Saying that God knows our hearts is saying that His opinion is the only one that matters. Believe it or not, that should actually make us uncomfortable! 

I don’t say this to scare anyone because God is a forgiving God, whereas man will never let you forget. However, I do say this so that we can be clear. God’s forgiveness doesn’t mean He’s going to pacify our wrong. God still punishes, whether new age religion wants to believe it or not. 

He’s not going to look the other way when we mistreat one another. He’s still jealous, so He knows when you’re doing things for Him and when you’re doing them for show. He knows when we reverence people more than we reverence Him, and that’s evident by who’s able to get us to move. Again, He doesn’t know the truth we want others to see, He knows the WHOLE TRUTH! 

Once we realize how serious that statement “God knows my heart” is, not only will we stop saying it to other people, we’ll actually adjust our behavior. Because God really does know our hearts!

Dissemination proper: The power is in God, not us

Before we reach, teach, or preach, we must know and understand what we’re talking about, and who has the authority.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us”. – 2 Corinthians 4:7

20141012_194349 (2)Sometimes we misunderstand what it means to have this treasure in earthen vessels. The Word of God wrapped in our fragile humanity. In our arrogance, we assume that whatever slips through the cracks of our brokenness will always represent the goodness of God. The truth of the matter is we ought to take great care when we speak on behalf of God. Because of our brokenness, we’re capable of great information and misinformation.

Something I shared in my latest book, Are We Still Making Disciples, is the fact that all transformation isn’t godly transformation. Meaning that everyone that claims to be transformed isn’t necessarily transformed by God. Every thought that comes to our mind isn’t God’s gospel just because we’re saved. After being dipped in Scripture, we’re still very capable of acting in the flesh. In action and in speech, all while claiming to speak from the Scriptures and for God. I would caution, as we operate in these earthen vessels, that we get an understanding with our memorization.

We’re in a day and age of Scripture bashing with limited study and/or understanding. What’s often missed by the world that hates to hear from the church on any controversial issues, is the fact that the church actually beats up on one another with Scripture just as much as they do the world, if not more. And they do it the same way: with a lack of understanding.

We’re under the impression these days that because we do things a little different than days past, that we are somehow different. We have some updated Bibles and viral ministries, and now we think that we’re progressive. In some cases, we are, but in others, we’re very much the same. We’re not openly pronouncing hell on everyone that we don’t agree with as they did in days past, we’re just a little more subtle now.

We have new school platforms with old school sensibilities, and we think no one knows the difference. We’ve invited everyone in, hoping that they don’t catch on. Where we’re no longer Bible thumping, we’re tablet tapping. But clever judgement in still judgment, and the world isn’t fooled.

One of the primary motivations for me writing Are We Still Making Disciples is the fact that we have so many that lack understanding that are on an evangelism crusade in the name of the church, touting a few memorized Scriptures as though they not only understand, but are living by them to the letter (Romans 3:23 comes to mind).

However, it’s not so much the church sending people out as it is people going out on their own. We have so many social media evangelist, prophets, and scholars, that the church can’t keep up or contain them. People have forgotten the difference between testifying about what God has done for you and the responsibility of leading people to Christ.

With leadership comes great responsibility. If we’re standing on Scripture, throwing it around on our pages, in our friendship circles, in our families and so on, all with the idea that we’re leading people to Christ, we must remember where the power lies. It’s not in our snappy statuses, it’s not in our spiritual high mindedness, it’s not in the fact that we’re memorizing more than we’re applying, and it’s certainly not in our ability to throw Scripture better than we can catch it. The power is in God!

So our responsibility isn’t to be smug or clever with His Word. Our responsibility is to rightly divide it. To keep quiet about what we don’t have a grasp on. To remember that the treasure is in contaminated earthen vessels, and if we’re not careful, the contamination of these vessels can spoil the contents, so that when it’s poured out and it’s consumed, it makes the recipients sick and not healed.

It’s so vitally important that we pay more attention to the fact that God has the power concerning His Word. We are the conduits. Have a zeal of God, but according to knowledge. We must rightly divide before we disseminate. In all thy getting, get understanding.