Tag Archives: Church Harmony

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.

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The church is not a destination, it’s a launching pad

Rev JacksonWhat I find most fascinating about the growth of the church in the Bible (Acts) is that it was never accomplished be people that stood still. As Jesus gave His disciples that Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), the operative thing for them was to be mobile. They couldn’t spread the Gospel standing still. They were to tarry for the Holy Spirit, but once the Spirit came (Acts 1:8), they were to get moving. If this is in fact the mandate for Christians (followers of Christ), why are we fighting so hard to stand still?

As I look at the state of some churches today, particularly those without pastors, it seems to me that the Commission has become less important than the building itself. There isn’t as much emphasis on who’s getting up out of their seats and taking the Gospel out into the world as there is on who’s sitting in what particular seat within the church. We’ve forgotten that the church was never meant to be a breeding ground for people that want to stay seated and maintain control of the building. The church is supposed to make disciples that are willing to go.

So how did we get here? Well, it isn’t any one person’s fault. We as a congregation of believers lost sight of what is important. Those that are in leadership became more enamored with what they were doing at home than what they were called to do in the world. Pastors have decided that building bigger churches is the answer to drawing more people, as opposed to making disciples that can go out and draw (sheep will get other sheep).

We’ve placed people in key positions in our churches that don’t do much more than Sunday morning service, so they don’t know the value of ministry away from home. As churches, we’ve focused more on insolation and isolation than we have on exploration, exclamation, and salvation. That mentality is counter to what Christ Himself told us to do.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. It’s imperative that we take care of church business, but we should never do so at the expense of or in place of God’s business. What we’ve failed to realize is that just because we’re taking care of something in the church, that doesn’t necessarily make it God’s business that we’re handling. God’s primary business is salvation. God’s primary business is drawing people to Christ. This isn’t done in business meetings. It’s done through preaching, teaching, and evangelism. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a pulpit or a church building to do either of these things.

When the Word of God takes a back seat to our personal interests in the church, we cease to prepare people for discipleship. Our membership becomes afraid to invite people to church because an argument might break out or the Word isn’t going forth. Opportunities to save souls fall by the wayside because every attempt at ministry is thwarted by “business” and “protocol”. And if teaching is secondary, knowledge is as well. You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t learn what’s not being taught.

If any church is more concerned with who’s in charge than who saves souls, it is in fact a church that’s in peril. It’s human nature to want to be in charge of everything, but it’s spiritual nature to know who’s in charge of everything. Many will come into church and say “This is God’s church”, but very few understand what that really means.

For example, there’s a difference between natural leaders and spiritual leaders. One is good for the world, and one is good for the church. Knowing God gives you the discernment needed to tell one from the other and would eliminate the need to ever argue about what should and shouldn’t be in God’s church.

As our churches have changed, we’ve become more focused on who we can mold into the spiritual leadership that we feel we need, and less focused on making the disciples that the world needs. We’ve forgotten that God will choose His own leaders from those that are converted by looking at their hearts. We’ve forgotten that when we’re in the Spirit, we don’t choose leaders, we simply agree with whom God has already chosen.

We’ve forgotten that we should be launching people into the world that love Christ rather than trying to turn into the next megachurch, turning out the next “hot” preacher, or having the best praise and worship team. The world needs Jesus, and we can’t give it to them if we’re so focused on who’s running the show. We can’t give it to them if our only purpose is to grow membership instead of helping people to grow spiritually.

I’ve heard it said that pastors are CEO’s, but I don’t agree with that. CEO’s make business decisions, but the church is not an organization, it’s an organism. It’s people working together for the cause of discipleship and Kingdom building. A pastor’s primary job is to feed and lead as inspired of God, not control, staff, and promote according to his own wishes. He is supposed to be more concerned with what’s profitable for the souls of the people than he is with financial profit and loss.

Pastors have begun making disciples for themselves and not Christ. The loyalty of the people belongs to man, not the Son of Man, and this has harmed the local church, and we should all be concerned. As I said in a recent lecture, the people should never quote their pastor more than they quote God’s Word. I’m instantly leery of people that love the building more than they love the Builder. I’m concerned when our churches are filled with people that covet a financial report more than they covet Psalms 51:10-13. When we’re more concerned with where we sit than whom we serve, it should give us all pause.

The reason we’re fighting so tough for the control of local churches is because we’re trying to find a place to be seated. Whether those seats are in the pulpit, on a board, or even our favorite pew, we care more about our place in the building than we do our place in the Kingdom. But true disciples are always on the go. They don’t come to church to take a rest. The come to church to be recharged so they can go back out on a mission once again.

Church was never supposed to be a place where we hurry to get there so that we can hold our spot. It was never supposed to be where we land, but where we launch from. It was never meant to be a social club, but rather where we gain the spiritual social skills to reach others. If we aren’t developing these traits in our churches, we’re either in the wrong place, or we’re the wrong people.

Things I learned at church…

Rev JacksonSooner or later, we in the church will have to take responsibility for what we’ve done to influence the negative behavior of the world. Didn’t expect that from the Reverend, huh? Yes, we often talk about how worldly ways are creeping up into the church, and that’s very true and it’s a very real issue. However, we often fail to realize that we’re doing damage to the world as often as they’re doing damage to us. The world may not be fighting us as much as they’re fighting us back for what we’ve done to them.

The church used to be a symbol of peace, love, hope, and salvation for the wayward souls of the world. They knew where they were wrong, but they saw us as the hope that they could one day get right. But we’ve changed. We’ve blurred the lines. We’re not what we used to be. We beat on them as much as the unsaved does. We’re no longer doing the missionary work we’re called to do. Our most active auxiliaries now are The Complaint Board, The Backbiting Board, The Judgment Ministry, The “I Won’t Forgive Or Forget” Team, and The “You Ain’t Been Called” Outreach Program.

It’s true, some of the worst behaviors we’ll ever learn, we’ll learn in the church. We’re overly concerned about the world coming in and tainting us, without realizing that we’re already tainted. We shouldn’t fear the world coming in because that was actually God’s plan. What we need to do is better prepare the people that are a part of us, so that they’re able to receive the world when they come and impart Christ onto them, instead of teaching them how to fight people by using a few scriptures that they’ve memorized, but don’t understand.

With that being said, here are seven things I’ve learned from “Christians” during my 40 plus years in church. See if you can identify:

1. Some people will only follow a leader if they can lead them – In a place where leadership is desperately needed, it appears that many are actually looking for glorified sheep of their own. The problem is everyone’s an expert, but never a student. They claim to want leadership that will listen to their concerns and guide them, but what they really want is someone that they can control. And in the event that they get a leader that they can’t control, they assume someone else is controlling that person. It couldn’t be that this person is following God’s orders, and those orders just happen to be contrary to their thinking, oh no. As I’ve always stated, those that plot and scheme will always assume that everyone is plotting and scheming. I submit to you that sheep need a shepherd, and if your leader is following you, you’ll both end up lost because you’re both sheep.

2. Those that contribute the least will always have the most to say – Have you ever been having a political conversation with someone that has all of the answers for the country, but they’re not a registered voter? They give you excuses like “my vote won’t matter” or “it’s all a conspiracy”. Then why are you here in America? Why are you complaining? Church is no different. The people that contribute the least in church, whether it’s time, effort, or money, are always the ones filled with suggestions and complaints. They’re the first to tell you what to do with an account full of money that they’ve contributed little to nothing to. They’re just like people that don’t wanna pay taxes, but somehow expects the government to take care of and protect them. Which leads me to my next point…

3. People will only work when conditions are “ideal” (Which means they’ll never work) – There are people in church that will tell you that the only reason they won’t work or contribute is because “things aren’t right”. But once they do get right, they’ll jump on board. What they’re really saying is “I want it done my way and I work when I want to, not when the church needs me”. But when are conditions ideal for discipleship? When people sought to be disciples of Jesus (Luke 9:57-62, Matthew 8:19-22), He explained to them that conditions aren’t always favorable. He told them: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head”.

There is no comfortable way to serve God. It’s hard work, but the pay is out of this world! If the church must be perfect for you to work in it, I gather that you’ll never do a thing of substance there. The church doesn’t need workers to keep it perfect, it needs workers because it’s perpetually imperfect. As Jesus ended that discourse on discipleship, He said: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God”. If God isn’t worth the sacrifice, especially when things aren’t perfect, then you aren’t worth the Kingdom.

4. Forgiveness is sometimes just a word. Some people stay mad forever and ever! – For a group of people that have been saved by a graceful and forgiving God, we sure are on short supply of forgiveness. We say we’ve forgiven and are ready to move forward, but no church member is really ready to move forward if they’re standing still (see previous point) while talking about the past and old issues. True forgiveness is about disconnecting from the past so that you can move forward. However, the first time something happens that we don’t agree with, we connect it to a 20 year old issue that we’ve allegedly let go of. There seems to be no such thing as water under the bridge. We assume that talking about it doesn’t mean we’re not over it, but I challenge that theory.

For example, if someone broke your heart years ago, but you rebounded nicely into a nice marriage with the love of your life, you don’t spend all of your days talking about your ex. You’re over it and you’ve moved on. That’s forgiveness. You remember what happened, but you don’t waste time talking about it anymore because you don’t want it disturbing your peace. You remember the pain it caused, but you’re not hurt anymore. That’s healing.

Scripture tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and the reason some issues won’t die in the church is because people keep bringing them back up and implanting them on a new generation of believers. I submit to you that if someone joins your local church and you feel it’s your job to tell them who to “watch out for”, if you mention anyone other than Satan because he’s not pleased that they’ve turned their life over to Christ, you have unresolved issues and the person they really need to watch out for is you.

5. Everyone’s a witness, but no one’s a criminal – Speaking of forgiveness, isn’t it strange that sometimes in church, everyone is owed forgiveness, but no one owes? We all know who messed up things in the church, but we fail to see our hand in it? Never realizing that even inactivity can be sinful if you know what’s right and did nothing to confront wrong (Luke 12:48). We saw what everybody else did, but it would take an O.J. Simpson-sized trial to convict us, and we’d still expect the glove not to fit. We’re so aware of everyone else’s shortcomings, but are surprised to find out that we’re guilty too.

Even as I’m writing this piece, I have my faults just like everyone else. Scripture tells us that we’ll often look past our greatest sin to see the smallest fault in someone else’s life (Matthew 7:3-5). But how much stronger would all of our churches be if we just took care of the wrong in our lives? If everyone on the block maintained their own lawns, we’d live in a beautiful neighborhood.

6. Anyone that disagrees with you is an enemy – Disharmony doesn’t come from disagreements alone. It comes from people’s inability to accept the fact that they’ve been disagreed with. Church folks are the worst at this. They fear individual thinking. They see every dissenting opinion as an attack on their own intelligence. Heaven forbid that someone has a differing point of view.

No one has ever grown without someone else challenging their thinking on their most dearly held beliefs. Even if you never change your mind and come to agree with the person disagreeing with you, it should force you to strengthen your argument. It should force you to further research your position to find out why you feel the way that you feel. And if you find out you’re wrong, you should be strong enough to own that and change.

When you have close relationships, especially the ones we should have in the Christian community, you should be able to handle a difference of opinion here and there, even if it becomes heated because we’re passionate, without having to promise to be mortal enemies afterwards. More than anything, we have to accept the fact that there’s a difference between what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s opinion. Right is right, wrong is wrong, but an opinion is how I feel about it. And we all have a right to one.

7. Many have scripture in their heads, but not in their hearts – Herein is the crux of the matter. All that we have discussed here is a matter of scripture. Not just the memorization of scripture, but the application of scripture. Even good, well-meaning Christians struggle with this one. Many people in the church can tell you what the Bible says, but they can’t always show you how they’re living it. Bible class is still the least attended of all services in the church, and that’s true no matter how large or small the congregation is. And that’s not the fault of the church (unless it’s not offered), it’s the fault of the Christian that refuses teaching.

Consider how we learned the secular songs that we love. Once we’ve committed to them, we learn them “by heart”. It’s written in our hearts to the point where if we hear a song that we grew up on 20 years ago, we not only know all of the words, but we remember all the dance steps that went with it. We don’t blandly recite them without feeling either. We apply them with emotion. The memory of such songs elicit a response. Scripture should be the same way. We shouldn’t repeat scripture without a desire to act something out. Knowing scripture is important, but living it out brings about a change in your life.


What we learn in church determines how we affect the world around us. We can’t show love in the world if we can’t show love to those that we call brother and sister. That’s even true in a secular sense. If you don’t have a sense of love for those that you call family, those outside the family have no chance. If we really want to know why the world is bringing a lack of love into the church, it may be because we keep sending people that lack love out into the world.

So what have you learned in church? That’s a rhetorical question that begs for an answer. We must remember that some of the “messed up” people in the world got messed up at church. The feeling of superiority of a few people that know a few scriptures and give a few dollars in church, but have issues with everyone in the church because they don’t live the love they claim, is crippling us.

We can no longer allow just anyone to be our voice, whether inside or outside of the church. “Jesus is the head of the church” is just a catchphrase for some people, not a mandate. There needs to be a new shift. And much of the negative that we’ve learned in the church needs to be unlearned for our own sakes.

Practicing what we preach: Preachers have a different set of responsibilities, not rules

FullSizeRender (1)One of the great challenges of true leadership is walking the talk. Not just giving instruction, but being willing to follow that which you’ve laid out for others. And in the event that those rules don’t apply to you, showing that you are following the ones that do apply to you. This is especially true when it comes to preaching and pastoring. In fact, we are the basis of that popular phrase “Practice what you preach”. It’s so vitally important that we’re living by that principle because people in their flesh are often unable to look beyond God’s representative and see Him for themselves.

It is through the preacher that many are introduced to God. While we can’t save, we can point people to The One who does. Because of this, our jobs are more critical than any other within the body of Christ (Note: The importance is on the job, not on the individual doing the job). While we have been blessed with such a great call, we have not been given the free pass that many, both within and outside of the ministry, think we have. We have not been given a special rules exemption by God. This responsibility is sacred and it must be treated as such. Though we throw that catch phrase around rather loosely, “Practice what you preach” is probably the most important mandate available for any minister of The Gospel.

The human side of a preacher or pastor can often affect the spiritual call that he’s under. For example, if there’s anything that bothers us on our 9 to 5 jobs, it has to be higher ups operating by a different set of rules. I mean, doesn’t the employee handbook apply to everyone? Don’t we all work for the same company? I know you’ve gotten a few promotions, but rules are rules, right? Well, not always.

If you’re working a secular job for a number of years, you get comfortable. You’ve gotten a few raises, a few promotions, and you’ve got a little seniority. Just as it is on a secular job, the longer you’ve been doing it, the more comfortable you feel cutting corners and not following all of the rules to the letter. Now, if you’re blessed enough to have a few subordinates, you won’t allow them the same latitude (unless, of course, you have some favorites, which we all do). You make sure that the people “working under you” abide by all of the rules as stated. And if you’re ever questioned by them about the obvious double standards, you remind them of how long you’ve been doing this, what your title is, who their immediate boss is, and the fact that you’re in good with the big boss, so you’re privileged. Does this sound like church to anyone yet?

A preacher or pastor can’t in good conscience stand in the pulpit and instruct the people of God in the rights and wrongs of Christian living, and then act as though he is above the law. People in church can spot a hypocrite from a mile away. Even as they say “amen”, they’re still aware when you don’t practice what you preach. In fact, they lose respect for you. Not because you’re not perfect, because they already know that and they’re not afraid to tell you. They lose respect because you’re acting as if the rules don’t apply to you. You lose credibility and the ability to correct them because if you can pick and choose what to follow, why can’t they?

Nowhere in the qualifications for a Bishop (1 Timothy 3:1-7) were we issued a different Bible. The same Bible that applies to the “layperson” applies to the pastor and preacher. We all have the same rules about adultery, fornication, gossip and backbiting, forgiveness, etc. God meant those words for all, no matter what your position in the church.

People are turned off from traditional churches because some of our pastors and preachers act as though they’re above the Bible. But it’s not God that’s behind this elevation, oh no. It’s often man’s ego, coupled with members and their hero worship/groupie mentality. When I published my book “An Understanding with God”, the original premise was dealing with preachers and pastors that behaved as though having a greater understanding of God’s Word gave them leeway that other Christians didn’t have with God concerning sin.

Now, I don’t want anyone to get this wrong. Understand that both the pastor and preacher are under a special anointing from God. They have been called to a greater work. It is a work not to be taken lightly, nor disrespected. The Bible states in both 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalms 105:15: “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm”. However, those scriptures are in reference to the mistreatment of the prophets, not godly correction. None of us are above that. In truth, the fact that we’re called to a greater calling doesn’t alleviate our responsibility to live according to God’s Word. It increases that responsibility.

Preaching has enough challenges without we preachers acting as though The Word doesn’t apply to us. There’s automatically an expectation of “holier than thou” placed on us as soon as we accept the call. People believe that because we’re preachers and pastors, we’ve somehow been given some supreme ability to avoid sin. They assume that the devil won’t attack us because God is covering us. They began throwing our past around like its current events. They forget our humanity.

While there’s nothing we can do about people’s unrealistic expectations, we can do something about the idea that we don’t have to serve the same God that they do, under the same ordinances listed in His Word. We can be sure that people understand that our call doesn’t make us exempt from God’s orders for the Christian community as a whole. We can practice what we’ve been called to preach.

All of the teaching and preaching that we do on love, forgiveness, keeping God’s statutes, and overall Christian conduct should serve as a reminder to us first, before it becomes schooling or a corrective measure for those we’re charged with leading. Every word in our lessons, sermons, lectures, and Bible classes should sting us first. If we aren’t living what we’re teaching from the Bible, each word that we speak should be a bitter taste in our mouths until we’re trying our very best to do so.

We must remember that we don’t preach so that people can see how great we are, but so they can see how great our God is. We aren’t to preach a word of chastisement with a tone that suggests that we’ve somehow conquered sin. We ought to speak as though we’re beneficiaries of God’s grace and mercy, just like the people we’re speaking to.

This isn’t a call for you to be overly critical of the preachers or pastors that you know (remember 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalms 105:15), but you should be concerned when they’re aware of everyone else’s shortcomings, but blind to their own, particularly when they’re obvious. The easiest way to lose people is to tell them to do something that they know you should be doing to, but you’re not. We can’t be “do as I say, not as I do” preachers. We must be a living and breathing example of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not just a shadow.

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.