Tag Archives: God’s Word

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 “Are We Still Making Disciples”: “Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible”

 

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Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible

So many of the rules of the church have been loosened because we want to seem welcoming to an ever growing segment of society that doesn’t see the need in physically coming to church. While I understand that we need different methods in a different world, there are some things about the church that should be non-negotiable.

I once preached a sermon entitled “When Jesus Is Your Draw”, taken from Luke 5:1-10. In the text, Jesus goes out into the boat with Peter to catch fish. Peter had gone out the night before, as he explained to Jesus, and had caught no fish.

However, even after explaining to Jesus that the fish weren’t biting, Peter says to Jesus, “Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net”. Once Peter followed Jesus’ instructions, he caught so many fish that his boat couldn’t hold them. There were so many fish that the text says his net broke and he had to call another ship over to take in the overflow of fish.

The text also states that there were so many fish that both boats begin to sink. However, what I always noticed in the text was what didn’t happen. While the net was broken and the boats began to sink, nowhere in the text does it say that any fish got away. Peter had gone back to the same place that he had gone the night before to catch fish, but to no avail. The difference was that Jesus was now in the boat. After this, Jesus told Peter, “From henceforth, thou shalt catch men”.

This text is a great lesson in what we as disciples need to draw people. All we need is Jesus. We’re in a day and time where we’re “marketing” the church in an effort to reach a new generation. I have no qualms about this as this generation responds differently than generations past. You have to reach them through their phones, either by text or social media, and you must do so in ways that grabs their attention.

I’m very active on social media platforms and I use them to promote books, ministry events, and I even post a live video feed from the studio during my radio broadcast. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with different methods to draw people to church.

Where I have a problem is when Jesus comes up missing in the marketing plans. Where I have a problem is when we’re promoting services, but we aren’t promoting the Savior. Jesus is the center of the church, so how do we expect to make disciples of Christ, without promoting Christ?

When what you used to do doesn’t work anymore, you have to come up with a new strategy. Yes, believe it or not, there is a strategy to discipleship. When Jesus sent His disciples out in the 10th Chapter of Matthew, He didn’t do so without giving them instructions. He told them what to do, how to do it, and He even told them what their demeanor should be as they did it. Yes, God is intentional!

However, in the midst of new strategies and new approaches, we can’t water down the Word of God or Jesus in the process. No matter what our approach is, it must be centered on The Word. No matter what we’re doing to grab people’s attention, we must always make Jesus the center of attention. We can think outside the box, but we should never think outside The Bible. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what we’re doing is in vain.

The world has convinced us that crowds matter when we’re putting on a program. Where we used to believe in “where two or three are gathered”, we now don’t believe it’s worth it unless there are two or three hundred. We’ve been convinced that the flyer can’t be too churchy, or the wording can’t be too Christian. We have buzz words like “fire”, “anointing”, and “breakthrough” that causes people to run to our churches.

We make sure that we have the praise team or the preacher of the moment. In the name of creativity, we do all that we can to draw people to our flame. However, when you’re doing something for The Lord, the who and the why are always more important than the number of people that show up.

No matter what program we put on in church, there ought to be three objectives:

  1. Glorifying God
  2. Getting someone saved
  3. Keeping someone connected to God

I know we like to fill the room, but our main objective should be filling the people up with Jesus. Again, this isn’t to disparage anyone that’s looking for creative ways to fill up the church. In fact, I encourage every church to have some sort of marketing plan that targets the people that are current members (we can’t be so concerned with the fish we don’t have that we neglect the ones that we do), as well as the people that you’d like to see at the church. The point here is that Jesus must still be the main reason we do any of it.

As we see in that Luke 5:1-10 text, when we take Jesus into the world, even in places where we were once unsuccessful, He draws where we once failed. And He’s so powerful, that even when we fill up our churches and people begin to overflow, because He’s the draw and He’s what people came for, no one will get away.

When we make Jesus the center of any program that we’re putting on, we are fulfilling our purpose as the church. When we draw people to Jesus with Jesus, they will stay because of Jesus.

Whatever we do in the church must begin with The Bible. When we come up with ideas, we should ask:

  1. Is this Biblical? – Are there any Scriptures that supports what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’re doing it?
  1. Who’s getting the glory? – Is what we’re doing lifting up the name of Jesus or our particular ministry, our cause (if the cause isn’t Christ), or even our invited guests?
  1. Is there an opportunity for someone to be saved? – This is beyond simply opening the doors of the church. Is what we’re doing actually being done to draw people out of the world and to Christ?
  1. Does it point to discipleship? – For those that are in attendance that are already saved, will it cause them to go out and witness to someone else about Christ or just witness about the event?

I know this may seem a little stuffy to some people, and maybe we’ve gotten to a point where we believe we don’t have to mention the name of Jesus every time we invite someone to our church. But if you don’t want to mention the foundation of the church in what you’re doing in the church, supposedly for the church, then one has to wonder if any of it is really about the church. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what are we really doing?

If we really want to fill the church, there are some tried and true methods that we can use that will ensure that the people that are coming are there for the right reason. Evangelism still works. Witnessing still works. The testimony of your personal life when you’re in the world still works. But no matter what the method, we should all be doing as Peter did. We need to get Jesus in the boat, or in the case of our discussion, in the marketing plan.

Then, we need to develop a nevertheless spirit. Maybe we tried some things the old way and didn’t get the response that we wanted, so then we have to ask ourselves, did we drop the net on our word or on the word of Jesus?

By simply obeying what Jesus said and when He said it, Peter did what he always did when fishing. But when he did it at the command of Jesus, the outcome was completely different. If we’d only follow His Word, we’d catch more fish than we could hold.

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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.

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.

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.