Tag Archives: Christianity

Anatomy of a dying church

KJ PreachHow is the health of your home church? Ponder that for a moment. It’s a question that we don’t often consider. We assume that because the doors open each Sunday morning, everything is alright. But the gates of the cemetery are open often and many of us go there to visit. We’re frequenting a place where no life exists, and yet we have no illusions about it.

There are plenty of bodies there, but no spiritual life. We know that, and it doesn’t stop us from coming. We even bring living flowers to a place that’s known for death. Our mere presence doesn’t change the situation. There’s no pretending and there’s no doubt about where we are. In a cemetery, people are dead. So, I ask again, how is the health of your home church?

Contrary to what many of us believe about ourselves, we aren’t bodies that possess spirits, but rather spirits that possess bodies. So a body without a spirit is dead. When we consider the state of our churches today, remember that we are called the body of Christ. However, if we have not the Spirit of the living God, we are dead. We may be moving around, we may be singing, we may be testifying, we may even be preaching and teaching, but without the Spirit of God, we are still dead.

Make no mistake about it, the Spirit may come and go in your church. There may be some parts of the service that are more energetic than others. Sometimes that’s because the Spirit is there, while other times we’ve been fooled by the emotion of the moment. What that means is just because someone got excited in church doesn’t mean that it is a Spirit-filled excitement. And if you’re serving in a place where the Spirit doesn’t abide, you are serving in a place that’s dying or already dead.

This isn’t a statement on the individual worshiper. This is a statement on the body as a collective. There may be people within the congregation that are Spirit-filled, but if the body as a whole isn’t that way, then the entire place is dead. Believe me, if there are parts of your body that are alive, but the majority of you is dying off, if you don’t get some help, it’s just a matter of time before you’re overtaken by death.

So what is the reason for the church dying off? There are two critical areas that we can examine: false prophets and a lack of nourishment. Understand that even healthy looking people can still be unhealthy (See Ananias and Sapphira in Acts Chapter 5). Understand that many men called of God have engaged in false prophecy for their own gain (See Balaam in Numbers Chapter 22-24, 31:8, 15-16). If you aren’t fed properly, you die. If you don’t have a means to get your nourishment, you die. All of this hinges on whether or not there is good leadership in place.

Let’s break this down:

There are two things that false prophets rely on from the people: Darkness and silence.

A spirit of false prophecy thrives on a people that don’t know the truth of God’s Word and what He’s called them to do. Also, they rely on the silence of those people. They count on those that know better to keep quiet about what they know, and for those that don’t know better to quietly trust them, and never ask any questions, even if it seems as though things are going the wrong way.

Individual and critical thinking is discouraged, and even looked upon as disrespect. But if you’re not thinking for yourself, you are in a vegetative state. Someone may be about to pull the plug on you. Those that God has placed in leadership can develop a God-complex when they go unchecked. This is why a pastor must have a pastor that they not only revere and respect, but will listen to and follow, because no one is always right.

A false prophet would have you to believe that they shouldn’t be questioned because their knowledge is above yours. However, the best leaders will listen to those they’re leading because when you don’t, you kill their spirit. Even if that leader feels they are right, they must at times entertain the wishes of the people, just in case they’re wrong or to allow the people to see the error of their own thinking. Even God yields to the will of man at times in order to make His point. What leader is justified in being so stubborn that they can’t do the same?

These people fear the individual in the group that will ask “Why”. But even God allows that question, so why shouldn’t man? This was something that plagued Blacks when we were slaves. There was a fear that if we learned to read, we’d gain an understanding. Once you understand, you are no longer in darkness, you are walking in the light. You’re no longer stumbling around, unsure of where you’re going or what you might bump into.

Once you have an understanding, you ask questions when something goes against that understanding. You may even choose not to participate in some things that go against your spirit. This kind of behavior is a nuisance to the false prophet or those bringing a false prophecy. But no one has ever grown mentally or spiritually without gaining an understanding, asking questions, and being skeptical when their questions go unanswered. When you have a congregation of people that’s comfortable living in darkness and afraid to speak up when something isn’t right, there can be no growth.

There are two things that will keep a flower from blooming: Lack of light and a lack of water.

If we in fact seek the light that God gives, we can grow. If we in fact drink from the living water that God provides, we shall thirst no more. The issue in many of our churches is that we don’t realize how dry things have gotten. We don’t realize how dark it really is. We have no idea that the bloom is off our rose. We assume that because we’re standing, we’re alive. But a tree can stand upright for years, rotting on the inside. Without inspection, nobody knows it’s dying until it comes crashing to the earth!

So many of our churches are functioning on ritual and habit. We’ve become inanimate objects. We’re not alive in Christ, we’re just existing. We aren’t sprouting new leaves of knowledge, we aren’t growing and reproducing, we’re just there because we’re expected to be. We’re in church because we’ve always been. We’re in the desert trusting all of the mirages (praise and responses that are emotional, not spiritual) that we see.

We must be like that tree planted by the water in Psalms 1:3, that brings forth much fruit in our season. The Word of God says that our leaves shall not whither and we will be prosperous. However, if the landscape has changed and there’s no more growth, we must be willing to be uprooted and replanted somewhere else. A church that isn’t near the water of life and being kept away from the light of God can’t bloom. That church is ready to die.

So, how can we stop this death?

There are two things that can revive the church: The truth of God’s Word, and the courage and conviction of His people.

There’s no point in Bible Class if it isn’t designed to empower God’s people. The goal isn’t to make the people dependent on the pastor. It is to teach them to be dependent on God. It is to help them to know the power of His might, not man’s. It is to make them so courageous, to convict them so deeply, that they have no choice but to stand on His word!

Our churches are dying, not only because we so often miss Bible Class, but because we don’t apply what we’re learning when we do go. We’re dying because people are more concerned with the conviction of man than they are the conviction of God. They won’t challenge the wrong in their church because they’d rather be alright with the people they see each week.

They won’t challenge false prophets and false prophecies because they’re being taught not to. They’re hungry, but they won’t cry out to be fed like a newborn baby because they don’t wanna make trouble, not really understanding that spiritual death is the most trouble any of us can be in. However, God’s Word is all the inspiration any of us should need when faced with the death of our church.

God didn’t call us to be sideline Christians. We are called to get in the game. We are called to action. He doesn’t want us to act out of order, but He doesn’t want us foolishly compliant either. Sheep are reliant on a good shepherd to lead and protect them, but they aren’t called to follow just anyone. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. If life isn’t being spoken in your church, it’s not of God. Don’t believe that God won’t move in you in order to move in your church. It’s alright to pray, but God’s answer comes through us. Believe it or not, this is a matter of life and death.

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Breaking tradition: It’s time for ministry outside of the pulpit

PhotoGrid_1432925643414Are we serving God traditionally, or according to His Word? These days, whenever we talk in the church about breaking tradition, we suggest removing some things because they’re “religious”. As though there’s something wrong with religion. My Bible tells me in James 1:27 that there is a pure and undefiled religion. Religion is only in vain when the man himself isn’t changed (James 1:26), but there’s nothing wrong with religion itself. However, when it comes to spreading the Gospel, tradition is a threat to stifle what God wanted spread to the world.

It is in fact The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) that tells us to go. Our ministries are called to be mobile, outside the church walls. The days of sitting still in the pulpit waiting for an opportunity to preach are past. This isn’t to suggest that anyone disrespect leadership or strike out on their own. However, it is to state that God has provided so many different avenues for ministry these days that it’s almost lazy for associate ministers or evangelists to sit still inside of a church and do nothing with their calling, and shortsighted for pastors to not allow room for those associates and evangelists to explore avenues outside of the church where the gospel can be spread.

Now, I realize that this thinking may get me in trouble with some traditionalists. I’m definitely on the radar for saying it out loud, but this has always been my nature: Think about it, pray about it, wait for confirmation, and then speak about it. Some pastors have progressed to the point of encouraging those under them to grow in their calling and go into the world and help to spread this Gospel. They keep a watchful eye to make sure that purity and context are maintained, but they’re also encouraging. But, let’s be real. There are plenty of ministers that have been trained, not to speak, but to sit still and quiet. There are still plenty of pastors that believe that those beneath them are to be seen and not heard until they’re comfortable in their own spirit. While this is wise in some cases (as some just aren’t ready), where there’s an obvious anointing on others, it’s counterproductive.

Understand that this isn’t a strike at older pastors. There are many younger pastors that hold to some of the same traditions because that’s how they were brought along (hence, tradition). However, it is a strike against holding to tradition instead of yielding to the Holy Spirit. There are times when God will anoint and ordain outside of what our traditions call for. There are times when God will elevate sooner than our timetable suggests that He should. There are times when God will break up our traditions just to make us aware that He is in fact God and that He is not beholden to the same rules that we try and hold man to.

Times are different now, and therefore, we must understand that ministry needs to be different to meet the needs of the time. There was a time when the only way the Gospel could be spread from city to city, state to state, and country to country, was through physical travel. While pastors were necessary, it was in fact evangelists that spread the Gospel beyond the church walls. However, with the advent of things like the internet, social media, cell phones, and independent publishing, along with the progression of television and radio ministries, we have a lot more avenues to reach the masses. Because of all of these advancements, we can’t allow tradition to stifle the spreading of God’s Word because “we’ve never done it like that before”.

It’s amazing that we sometimes believe that growth should stop with the invention of the thing that we excel in. What that means is we have many pulpit preachers and pastors that can’t handle the progress that ministry has made. The idea that someone could reach people using something other than just the pulpit can be intimidating to someone that only knows that model. What’s often overlooked is the fact that preaching the way that they preach was once new, different, and questioned as well.

Consider the fact that some preachers, and even pew members in the black church still don’t feel as if someone has “preached’ if they don’t get excited or “whoop” in their sermons, as if that’s the only way that God’s Word can be proclaimed. The truth is that God’s Word has prevailed through many changes in delivery over the centuries and millenniums, and there’s no reason to believe that it will stop because a minister has tapped into a new way that God has provided to spread the message.

This is not an endorsement for any and every one to start blogs, YouTube accounts and Facebook pages to spread just anything. A person still needs to be trained in the Word of God, they still need to be mentored, and they still need to be tried and proved before they embark on The Great Commission. After all, that’s what Jesus did with the disciples. But the notion that the pulpit provides some sort of validation that the truth is being spoken is shortsighted. Many a preacher, and even some pastors, have stood in the pulpit and spoken Scripture out of context, as well as given their own theology in place of what The Bible teaches.

The fact is every generation goes further than the previous, because God never downgrades His people. We can’t allow traditional ways of ministry to stifle the growth of the Kingdom. Some of God’s best preachers and evangelist are sitting in a pulpit silent because some pastors have a traditional mindset towards the Gospel. Because some of these pastors have this mindset, they’re silencing people that God has ordained to speak to the masses and to a new generation of believers, in languages and ways that they can comprehend. Some of these traditionalist are attempting to protect the sanctity of “their” pulpits, while at the same time attempting to silence many of God’s new spokesmen and women.

It’s not that God changes, because the Bible says that He doesn’t (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). However, God always presents us with advancements. In technology, in learning, in thinking, and yes, in His servants. The idea that God hasn’t improved on the preaching, teaching, and evangelism of His Gospel is to sell God short. It is to limit God and to say that once He created all of the great preachers of years past, that He somehow became unable to top Himself. But as I’ve often mentioned while teaching Bible class, God has a replacement for all of us, and it’s an upgrade. Even if it isn’t necessarily in ability or delivery, in may be in sincerity towards the work of the Gospel.

The idea of tradition in itself is to suggest that the way it was done before and all of the years since was not only the best way, but the only way, the pinnacle, and there can be no modifications or improvements. To change anything at all is to damage it. How would that have worked out if we never improved from rotary phones to cells? From typewriters to computers? From the horse and carriage, to the Model T, to what we drive today? Some traditions are good and never need to be removed. However, every tradition should be periodically checked, and modified if necessary to reflect the times we live in now. Failing to do so will cause stagnation. The only thing worse than watching the world pass us by has to be standing still without even trying to keep up.

The church has a great many traditions. Some were meant to be oppressive, while others were there to maintain order in God’s house. But our overall mission should be that the Gospel is spread and souls are saved. We can’t get caught up in arguments about how, as long as it’s done according to God’s Word. If something is done according to the Word of God, that’s not tradition. That’s just doing things the right way. But when something is done in a way that we’re unaccustomed to and it offends our sensibilities, that’s when we are to rely on the Holy Spirit. Just because we don’t understand a way that’s new to us, doesn’t mean it isn’t God’s way.

God is not on our timetable, and He may be moving faster because the time in nigh. If we do what we’ve always done, we get what we’ve always gotten. We’re in a new level of spiritual warfare these days, as the Bible warned us we would be (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The devil has tweaked his approach (internet, cell phones, etc), but his message is still the same: death and destruction. Why can’t we do the same thing? Tweak the approach, but maintain the message (eternal life through Jesus Christ).

The blessings in “all things”

FullSizeRender(2)How thoroughly do you read your Bible? Do you skip over words that seem insignificant, but in fact, they hold some significant power in the verse? We’ve all done it before. We look for the most majestic words in a sentence, all the while overlooking the strength that God has hidden in the small and seemingly unimportant. By simply taking the Bible word for word, you can receive the fullness of what God has to say to you.

Look at Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”. Now, we all know that there’s power whenever Christ is mentioned in the text. However, once we get beyond Jesus, we often seek the power in the words “I can”. Yes, it’s in our human nature to focus on what we can do. However, when we do that, we often miss “all things”. Sometimes we misunderstand and misapply it, while other times we overlook its significance. We often see “all things” as an opportunity. We see it as God blessing us with gain. Also, “I can do all things” becomes a battle cry against those that oppose us or in instances where we’re trying to achieve things. But we often miss the entire blessing in the words “all things”.

These two words cover a multitude of things. We must remember that doing all things through Christ covers things beyond what we desire for our material growth. Those words also cover our healing. They cover grief when you feel like you can’t make it through. They cover broken homes and financial hardships. They cover wayward children. And yes, they cover church dysfunction and spiritual growth. Yes, when that scripture tells us that we can do all things through Christ, it really means all things!

One of my pet peeves is Scripture being taken out of context. All of us have been guilty of pulling Scripture out just to make a point, while not really considering the context in which it was spoken. Philippians 4:13 falls into this category. We see that we can do all things, but we don’t go back a few verses to find out exactly why the Apostle Paul was making this statement.

An examination of the Book of Philippians provides some insight. Paul, writing this letter to the church at Philippi from jail, is still rejoicing in The Lord. In the midst of his circumstances, he remains confidant in Christ! Sometimes we struggle to look past our circumstances to the God that controls it all, but as Christians we must always look to Christ rather than focusing on the bars that imprison us. If we aren’t trusting God in all things, we begin to focus on our limitations, and not His power.

By Philippians 4:11-12, Paul tells us in those verses that he has learned that Christ sustains him, no matter what his situation may be. Whether he’s rich or poor, hungry or full, or whether he’s high or low, he knows that Christ is his strength. This gives us the proper perspective. Does this verse apply to our various quests in life to be prosperous or to overcome our adversaries in life? Yes, it does. But we must also remember that this verse is a survivor’s verse. It’s a verse that reminds us that no matter what we may face in life, we can conquer it through Christ (also see Romans 8:35-39)!

Scripture also tells us in Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. So we can’t trust God in “all things” with the mind of the unsaved. When we fail to look to Jesus in all things, when we lack the faith that God can bring us through all of the situations that we face in life, we are thinking with an unsaved mind. Not to suggest that you are unsaved if you lack confidence, but you’re engaging in unsaved thinking.

Its human nature to have fear and anxiety in certain situations, but we as saved Christians ought to have a new nature. We ought to be different. We ought to have a change in our mindset. A change that will allow us to see things in the spirit, not the flesh. Keep 2 Corinthians 5:17 in your hearts: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. Not some things. Not a few things. Not the things that we thought we couldn’t outrun. No, if you’re in Christ, ALL THINGS become new!

The pulpit is not a boxing ring

Old-NewHave you ever really considered the brutality of boxing? The primary goal is to beat your opponent until you win or until they quit. Often times, they’re beaten so badly that they’re knocked out cold. We often sit back and watch all of this happening without really considering the pain of the loser. In fact, we even root for the knockout. While this kind of battle is fine within the confines of sport or a boxing ring, such battles anywhere else would seem barbaric.

What’s worse is when something like this happens in a place that’s supposed to offer love, peace, understanding, loving correction, and salvation. It’s not healthy when the people of God have to sit ringside while a fight is happening between the pulpit and the congregation. An unfair fight because the congregation is fighting with one hand tied behind their back.

A wise preacher told me as he was preparing me to preach my first sermon to never listen to the rumors of the crowd. He told me that when you do, you start to preach for them, or if you disagree with them, you’ll preach at them. As I’ve grown in ministry, not only have I learned how true this is, but I’ve also learned how dangerous this can be to the local church.

The pulpit is not a place to work out your personal beefs with the congregation. This thought was confirmed for me as I listened to a sermon on this past Sunday evening as one of my brothers in the ministry was being installed as pastor. The Pastor delivering the sermon for the occasion reminded us: “If God told you to do something, you don’t need to explain it over and over again. Just stand on it!” It’s a simple statement, but a powerful one. Once you start trying to convince people to stand with you rather than standing with God, your “position” becomes suspect.

We haven’t been called to combat rumors about us. We’ve been called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A preacher must sometimes close his ears to man, while always keeping his heart open to God. By doing this, he’s sure to always speak what God has told him to speak.

For example, if someone is speaking ill of a preacher or questioning his motives, as a man or woman of God, they should expect that. Jesus warned us about such things (Matthew 5:11-12). The fleshly reaction is when fired upon, return fire. But the spiritual reaction, the Godly reaction, may be to preach a sermon about love and let that marinate with the people that are allegedly hating on you. Proverbs 15:1 says: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger”. It’s all about what God would have you to say, not about your feelings being hurt or you being challenged.

The truth here is that God often gives instructions to his mouthpiece that wouldn’t be understood by others. In fact, at times, those instructions are not fully understood by the individual He’s spoken it to. So it stands to reason that if you can fully explain it, there’s a good chance it’s your idea and not God’s. Following God requires faith because we don’t always know where we’re going, what we’re doing, or even why we’re doing it. But if man can break the “plan” all the way down, there’s a chance God isn’t in it. Moses is one of the greatest examples we have of this.

When we turn the pulpit into a battleground against anyone but Satan, we’re not edifying the body of Christ. Think about that boxing match for a moment. Rarely do you find people that just wanna see a good fight. Whether openly or secretly, we’re all rooting for one of the fighters to win. If you’re preaching at someone, the people will begin to choose sides, and when that happens, the perception of choosing between “good and evil” is present. A spirit of separation, or “us against them”, is then fostered. This can cause friends to go against friends, and even family members can be divided. I know this because I’ve experienced it personally.

The call to preach is a scared call, but that can be easily forgotten when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the flesh or in man’s perception of us or what we’re doing. No matter how long you’ve been doing it, your feelings get hurt and you wanna fight fire with fire. This becomes even more dangerous on Sunday morning when we have everyone’s attention, the microphone, and a platform where there’s no allotment for Q & A. It’s so easy to want to get even or to set things or people straight. But is that what you’re called to do?

The only person that man should follow blindly is God. So if you’ve done or said something that people can’t grasp, you shouldn’t be offended if they can’t get behind it. Their faith should be in God, not man. If in fact God told you do something, stand on it! All will be revealed in time. If you remain a man or woman after God’s heart, He’ll be sure to continue to speak to yours, no matter what the people are saying about you or what you’re doing. God has a way of bringing all of His plans to fruition without ever needing man to explain anything. All we have to do is continue to walk in the call and continue to abide in Him. True people of God aren’t coming to church to hear us defend ourselves. They’re coming to hear us defend the faith.

Why is the “church” so mean?

Rev JacksonThis may not apply to everyone reading this, and if it’s not you, consider yourself blessed. But if it’s not happening where you attend, don’t assume that it’s not happening anywhere. If we’re being honest about things, the local church (not the universal body of believers) can be one of the meanest places that we’ll ever attend. Not all churches, but a lot of them. There’s gossip, backbiting, judgment, sinful behavior, and people with self-serving agendas. All of this amongst people that claim to be worshipping a loving God. All of this amongst people that claim to love everyone. How can a place established by a loving Savior be a haven for this kind of behavior?

Understand that this behavior isn’t representative of the God we serve. The reason so many people go running out of the church after being mistreated is because they fail to remember that they’re serving a perfect God amongst imperfect people. Only people that are still capable of hurting one another can cause a term like “church hurt” to become popular. But that isn’t God’s plan, nor is it His doing.

Being mean, disrespectful, or hurtful is like a disease, and any disease that goes untreated can fester and become a detriment to your overall health. Pretending that it’s not there doesn’t help either. We all know that church can be a difficult place at times, and some of us are even brave enough to say it out loud. But knowing it isn’t the same as addressing it and treating it.

How many times will we turn a blind eye and deaf ear to things happening in the church that we know are wrong? How many times will we allow those with the wrong disposition to continue on without correcting them in love? And how many times will people go running from our churches in pain, and rather than trying to fix what’s wrong, we either try to convince them to come back to a bad situation, or just let them go?

Let’s look at 5 things that I believe that are causing our churches to be mean, and one word that we can all look to in order to change it all:

1. Lack of group study – Loving those that love us is easy, but we must be taught to love everyone else. The Bible classes are the least attended service in the church, and yet our pews are filled each Sunday morning with people that claim to have a deep understanding of God and His Word, just based off of church membership. But even a 9 to 5 job will send you to training periodically just to make sure you’re still capable of performing. In the church, such training isn’t mandatory, but it’s even more necessary. But if it’s not mandatory and we don’t see the benefit, we will refuse it.

We’re quick to tell everyone that Jesus was all about love, but we don’t study Him enough to find out just who He was loving on: people with issues, people with illnesses, people with demons, and people less fortunate. He even loved people that blasphemed His name and crucified Him. And yet, we struggle to love people that disagree with us from time to time because we refuse to acknowledge that we’re all capable of being wrong.

How can we throw our Bibles at people when we don’t know it as we should? I’m amazed that we feel that we’re able to know and love the God of the Bible, and carry out His mandate, without ever spending time in His Word with fellow believers (Hebrews 10:25). In order for us to truly know how God wants us to live and how God wants us to love, we must go away from our own understanding and get to God’s understanding (Proverbs 3:5-7). If we can’t stand one another to the point that we can’t even study together, how will we ever carry the love of Christ out into a world filled with sin and in need of genuine love?

2. We don’t preach about sin anymore – We’ve become so afraid of offending, that we’ve softened and/or watered down our message. These days, no one is offended, but at the same time, many don’t know when they’re out of order. Preaching about sin isn’t to be done in order to beat the people down. It’s done to let them know where God’s boundaries are. When we fail to correct the church, how will the church ever know what is and isn’t acceptable, according to God and His Word?

The truth of God’s Word should never be compromised for the fleshly comfort of the people. There are no comfortable seats in hell, and not telling people the error of their ways not only puts the preacher in danger, but it also causes naïve Christians to go out into the world and live below the Word of God, due to a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).

When we fail to raise the bar of Christian conduct in our churches, we in effect adopt an “anything goes” attitude. If we don’t understand the sin in mistreating one another within the church, how much harsher will we be outside of it? Something we must all understand is that people that are kind in church may or may not be that way outside of it, because man can’t look at the heart so we don’t know whether or not a person’s heart is genuine. But if a person is mean in church, it is highly doubtful that they improve outside of it. In fact, they’re probably worse.

3. Our preachers are now celebrities – This isn’t all the preacher’s fault, but many times it is. For most celebrities, the primary focus is to get people to like them in order to garner support. This often means compromising their truth in order to be what the public wants them to be. Preachers must guard against such things.

If there’s anything that isn’t popular, it is truth. Therefore, it stands to reason that popularity and preaching should often be at odds. If you’re preaching in truth, there will always be a section of the church that doesn’t want to hear you. I may be old fashioned, but I grew up in a time where people may have loved their pastor dearly, but if they weren’t living right, he was anything but popular among them because of the message he carried.

Celebrity preaching goes hand in hand with the lack of preaching on sin. Such preaching may garner some people screaming “amen”, but has anyone been changed? Has anyone been challenged about their ways? Has anyone been rubbed the wrong way because what you said hit too close to home? Has anyone questioned your call, not because your theology was incorrect, but because you dared to speak God’s truth, even if it meant that people wouldn’t speak to you after?

Understand that some preachers are popular through no fault of their own. Some are naturally charismatic and that draws some people with impure motives and inauthentic praise. Some preachers are gifted with song and that draws people that have no interest in God’s Word, but they just want to be close to what they perceive to be a man-made fire.

This isn’t to suggest that any popular preacher isn’t preaching in truth. This is to suggest that any preacher that preaches to gain celebrity status and not to spread the Gospel truth of God’s Word, even if it offends those closest to them, will compromise their message. And anything that isn’t the whole truth is a whole lie, and there is no saving power in a lie.

4. The old guard fears their replacements/tradition – No one wants to move forward. People are comfortable where they are and they’ve dug in. Seasoned saints won’t engage the youth in a spirit of training and preparation to take over, and the youth are afraid to challenge the status quo. In our flesh, we all feel threatened when we think we’re being replaced. In the church, we often feel threatened when it seems that God is ushering in a new way of praise, a new way of worship, and even a new way of preaching The Word. And when people feel threatened, they fight.

Doing things the way you’ve always done it, with the same people, is a good way to stunt church growth. The arguments often come about because the next generation tends to mature faster than the previous one, which means young people may be prepared for leadership sooner than the generation before them were. This can breed resentment and animosity from older church members that not only believe more in time (how long it takes to achieve certain positions in the church) than they do in God-given gifts (something that’s beyond our understanding), but also aren’t quite ready to move over or let go. This poisons the congregation and causes infighting.

The truth is God never changes, but we do. Because we change, how we do things changes. We’re serving the same God, but generations and methods of communications change. Some traditions should remain because they are our link to the past. Some traditions keep order in God’s house. However, there are some traditions that need to change in order to keep the church both fresh and relevant. When the old guard refuses to train their replacements, not only do they hold on to traditions and positions too long, they also block the progress of the church and things become stagnant. Who can maintain a pleasant disposition in a situation like this? You either leave or you stay and become bitter.

When you refuse to let go of the position that you’ve held for 30 years in the church, God can’t give you the next assignment that He has for you. We must release this idea of being “old and useless” in God’s church. As long as there is breath in your body, God has a use for you. We should never discount the role of seasoned mentor!

5. Politics – God has been phased out in favor of factions and cliques. People that aren’t doing anything in the church have control of certain positions and certain people. If you don’t kiss up to them, they’ll sully your name throughout the congregation, even when it’s obvious that God has a call on your life. Study of The Word would show them the dangers of such things, but political people don’t feel that Bible class is as important as membership.

I stated on Facebook once that principles haven’t driven people out of the church, politics has. The idea that you need man’s approval to do anything is God’s house in a hindrance. A Holy Spirit-filled church has the ability to see when God has called someone to do a work for Him. It doesn’t matter if that person has been in the church 10 months or 10 years. If you’re filled with the Spirit, you can see God’s hand on someone’s life, and when God is ready to elevate them, you’re ready to receive them.

When we look at the world we live in, politics are only used to push certain agendas and often to crush the voice of people that supposedly have no power. It’s also used to cause divisions and create anger and animosity among the people. Is this how God wants us conducting ourselves in the church? Does God want us so political in church that we drive more people away than we draw? Politics are designed to control the actions and thinking of people. Aren’t we supposed to be under God’s control?

So what do we need?

If there’s anything that’s made us mean in the church, not only has it been bringing all of these worldly attitudes and attributes into the church, but it’s also been our comfort level with these ways. However, acknowledging one word can help us to rid ourselves of these things: Accountability. We have to stop letting it go. We have to stop saying “That’s just them, they’ve been like that for years”, because if that’s true and we’ve said nothing, we’re partially responsible for who they are. We have to stop pretending that we don’t see it. We have to stop pretending that we aren’t hurting.

We must get back to being Bible-based, and not agenda driven, because agendas can and will clash. God’s Word is steeped in His way of love and His judgment. Therefore, we must remove our will from this equation and live His way.

It’s strange that we’ll sing songs about challenging the enemy, but we refuse to challenge him when he’s in our congregation. When he’s destroying the very fabric of what we are, we won’t lean on James 4:7 which tells us to resist the devil (stand on the Word of God) and he will flee. We must confront the wrongdoing in our churches with The Word and with prayer. If we can’t love in the church, then surely we can’t love in the world. It’s time for a change. It’s time for love. But we’ll never get there if we don’t address the hate and anger.

Our statement on the marriage equality ruling

Image-1[1]I believe the Bible is God’s Holy Word, without error. Therefore, I do not believe that God in any way ordained same-sex unions. I don’t believe in discrimination. I don’t believe in bullying. I don’t believe in violence against those that aren’t like us. I don’t believe any Christian can say with any certainty that there aren’t any homosexuals that have claimed Christ in heaven because we’ve never been and we don’t know who repented. My Bible doesn’t teach me that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin or a greater sin than others, but it does state that it is sin, along with many other things that we as humans do (Romans 1:18-32). Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, which means that we’re all guilty of something.

I believe in love and I believe that God loves us all, but I don’t believe that His love for us is a license to do as we please. He has defined in His Word what is right and what is wrong. This Word is for the Christian community and this Word is what WE (the Christian community) can and should govern ourselves by.

If someone isn’t of the Christian faith, I understand that they wouldn’t accept the Bible as their moral compass. I also understand that there are some that profess Christianity that don’t necessarily agree with all that is in the Bible. Again, that is their prerogative and I respect their right to feel however they feel. My Bible tells me that God never changes, thus, He hasn’t changed His mind about homosexuality or any other sin. If others disagree, again, that’s their prerogative and I respect their right to do as they please. However, these are my beliefs. I don’t expect everyone to share them. This is simply what I believe and I have a right to that belief, just as others have a right to disagree.

Since the Bible has been at the center of this discussion, the Bible is therefore appropriate to use in stating our position on the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriages. Scripture says:

“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭18‬ NKJV)”.

So, having said that, the best laws in any country are the ones that don’t cause anyone to go against their moral beliefs. Whether inside or outside of the Christian community, people are going to disagree, and from those disagreements, people should live their lives as they wish, within the law and without infringing on anyone else’s right to do the same. So live and let live isn’t the only order of the day here. Live your life and don’t force anyone else into your standard of living must also be adopted.

We have to move beyond the fallacy that tolerance must be accompanied by agreement. That would be nice, but it’s just not realistic (as many people have tolerated Christians for years, though they didn’t agree with them). Yes, we should love one another as God commanded, but we must also practice tolerance from BOTH SIDES, meaning respecting one’s right to live as they wish, along with respecting one’s right to respectfully and peacefully disagree, and not participate if they feel that strongly about it.

My Bible also commands me to love eveyone as God does, and I still do. No court ruling will change that. I must love this way because God loves me beyond what He disagrees with in my life. As long as a worldly law doesn’t oppress anyone, then we can all live with it. And oppression is in the mind of the beholder, so we shouldn’t try to figure out what is and isn’t oppressive to someone. As long as we allow one another to live according to their own morals, without EITHER SIDE trying to force what they believe down each other’s throats (and BOTH sides are guilty of this), we can more than accomplish the tenets of Romans 12:18: To live peaceably with one another. This is my prayer.

May God bless and keep you all.