Tag Archives: God’s Word

Dealing With “Spiritual Anxiety”

In my 2017 book “Overcoming Your Pharaoh”, I dealt with something that I called spiritual anxiety, which is essentially worry. In the times that we’re living in with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many are struggling with worrying and faith. I’ve decided to share a section of this last chapter of the book to encourage God’s people. I pray that you are blessed by it.

How far has worrying gotten you?


In Matthew 6:27 (NLT), Jesus asks us a pertinent question: “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” This has been a critical teaching point for me, not just when I’m teaching others, but for my own edification as well. When I sit back and think about it, worrying has never solved a problem, has never made a situation better, has never put money in my bank account, and has never improved a relationship in my life.

Literally, worrying has never done anything for me, but it has taken my peace away. Even for those that have worried and stressed over things to the point of actually getting up and doing something, you must understand that your action brought you something that worrying never did. And if God didn’t move in your actions, your problem would remain. But worry has never done anything for us.

The stress that it adds to every situation is a distraction, a hindrance, and is bad for both our physical and our mental health. I understand thinking on some things, but there is a difference between thinking on some things and worrying about things. You’re not getting bad news and not thinking about it. An overdue bill when you don’t know where the money will come from, finding out that you or a relative is not in the best of health, learning that your kids have some issues that are out of your depth, or maybe finding out that your marriage is in trouble. You’re not getting any of this news, or news like it, without giving it some thought.

You’re fine just thinking. You’re human just thinking. However, it’s the dwelling on these things that will cause you to lose faith. It’s the pondering instead of praying that will cause you to lose hope. It’s trying to control some things that you couldn’t even prevent from happening in the first place that will threaten your sanity. It’s staying up all night when you claim to have faith in a God that never sleeps nor slumbers that’s troublesome.

The answer to the question we asked at the beginning of this section is a simple one. How far has worrying gotten you? Not far at all. In fact, you’ve gotten nowhere. It may not have caused you to sink deeper into your problems and your issues, but it certainly made you feel as if you had. It takes an inconvenience and makes it feel like an impossibility. It turns a dilemma into desperation. As Jesus said, it doesn’t add anything to your life. It comes just as another bill that’s due, and you pay with your peace of mind.

I speak to you as someone that has some experience in worry. I’ve had those times where I didn’t know which way was up. I had to learn that worry was never in any equation that led to a solution. I had to come to a place where I realized that worry will paralyze you. Worry will confuse you. It will cause you to stand still when action is required. It will cause you to act unnecessarily and irrationally, when all you had to do was stand still because your deliverance was on the way.

It’s still true that God won’t solve a problem that we haven’t fully released to Him. This is the trick the enemy plays on us. He keeps us worrying because worry will cause us to pray without really believing that God will hear and answer. Worry won’t do anything for us, but God can and will. When we succumb to our problems, we lose sight of the problem solving nature of God. Worry will throw you into a sea of “what if it doesn’t work out” before you ever even realize that you were always standing on the shores of “God says it’s gonna work out”.

To purchase a copy of “Overcoming Your Pharaoh: Battling our issues, our instances, and our insecurities”, visit www.krjpublishing.com

In Times Like These, We Need A Word!

Last night, I was reading the intro to my book “Are We Still Making Disciples”. The opening line of the book is: “We’re at a critical time in the church today”. It was true when I wrote it and it’s even more true today. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and when such moments come about, the church is brought to forefront for various reasons.

Being faith-based, it would make sense that people would look to the church in uncertain times. We’re looked to in order to provide comfort and encouragement during a difficult time, and in many ways, we’ve answered the call. However, we’re also looked at during this time because some of the people that have been attending our services regularly seem to be unsure. And while at some moments we “questioned” their faith, one could argue that they have about as much faith as they’ve been encouraged to have.

What I mean is in some cases, the object of their faith is what we’ve been pushing. In some cases, we haven’t pointed them to God as often as we should have, and now, in the midst of extreme uncertainty, they don’t know where to turn. So then, the question becomes, what have we really been telling our people?

We’ve spent the better part of the last 25 to 30 years telling people about God’s stimulus plan and how we’re all gonna be worldly rich, often ignoring the fact that not only is what we have here on earth of no consequence when we die, but none of it will be of any benefit when we’re face to face with God. In a moment when the government is issuing out money to it’s citizens in the name of survival, its all being given to people that should be staying inside for their own safety.

It’s in situations like this when cliches and catchphrases fade away and people begin to wonder if God is listening to their prayers because people are still dying in the face of this disease. The person that’s praying that God replaces their next breath isn’t concerned about material things, 401k’s, their cars, their “breakthrough”, or even how God is gonna make their haters their motivators. They’re concerned with their lives. They’re concerned with their souls.

They need to be able to draw on a reassuring word and not one based solely on what happens on this side of their current Jordan river situation. It’s during these times when people don’t need a superficial and fluffed up word. They need a true and sustaining word. During these moments, people need to know about a saving Savior.

One of the great challenges to the church during this time is to examine what our message has been to our people. Some of us in the preaching ministry have spent so many years trying to move people emotionally that we’ve failed to move them spiritually. There are people that have listened to us that are so disillusioned and uniformed about God that they don’t even believe that a plague would come by His hands and not necessarily the devil’s. This is one of the pitfalls of us serving itching ears as opposed to addressing lives that have yet to be transformed according to Romans 12:1-2.

A “prosperity” word is hardly the life preserver our people need when both rich and poor can be killed by the same virus. A “God’s gonna make you rich” word isn’t what people need when we don’t have enough ventilators to go around in order to help people breathe. In this moment, people don’t need to be reminded about how they’ll overcome the hater next door, they need to know that God will deliver them from the illness outside their door. In this moment, people need to know that God is still in charge, even though people are dying.

While we share Scriptures of doom and gloom and an angry God, we must also share the hope of Jesus Christ. People need to know that God is still a healer, even though people are still at risk and getting sick. They need to know that even if God doesn’t answer their prayers in the fashion that they prayed it, He still able!

Some time ago, I did a series on my radio broadcast called “A Church In Love WIth Itself”. The purpose of that series, just as it was with “Are We Still Making Disciples”, was to refocus the church on what we’re supposed to be about and who we’re supposed to be. I’m just convinced that there are times when God will either cause something to happen or allow something to happen that should refocus us.

As it pertains to the church, I believe that this season is a season in which the truth of God’s Word needs to go forth. We’re in a season where God has leveled the playing field and the haves and the have nots are in the same boat, facing the same danger, faced with same mortality. Because, quite honestly, that’s where we’ve always been. For this reason, in this season, and for this cause, we need a word. And this time, the church must deliver.

In the midst of a challenge, “faith shaming” has become a thing

As we’re dealing with the challenge of this Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it seems as if the faith community has begun to challenge one another’s level of faith. Christians that have shown concern have had their trust in God questioned, at times in a hostile manner, with a Scripture provided to seemingly soften the blow (i.e. “God said it, I didn’t”).

Christians that have decided to keep their distance (staying in doors, missing church) have been accused of falling to the wiles of the devil and possessing a spirit of fear, and not that of a sound mind. Christians that have chosen to be cautious have been accused of turning their backs on the same God that has kept them. They’ve been accused by people that act as if they’ve never doubted God a day in their lives. Yes, we have entered into an area of “faith shaming” where we propose to know what’s in one another’s heart, and we’ll even throw discernment around for good measure just in case people wanna question how we’ve come the conclusions that we’ve come to.

Many of us have even thrown around our conspiracy theories for good measure, shaking our holy heads at those who aren’t up on our various theories, failing to realize that by pushing such things, we actually create another form of hysteria and create a culture of people that will be paranoid about EVERYTHING, never believing that God is in EVERYTHING, even those things that He simply allows. We’re missing the fact that if we push man’s theories more than we push our theology, that God is STILL able, we’re not helping the church, we’re harming it.

It’s true that faith must be exercised during this most challenging time, but I’m concerned when we as the church will try and drag people to a level of faith as opposed to compelling them, not just with words and The Word, but more importantly, with actions and how we exercise our own faith. We must be careful not to convey an attitude that suggests that because we have faith, we’re taking all of this lightly, and if that’s the case, we need to rethink our position.

Faith doesn’t mean there’s an absence of danger, it simply means that we trust God in the midst of danger. There was danger in Daniel’s lion’s den situation, but God kept him. There was danger in the fiery furnace of the 3 Hebrew boys situation, but God kept them. I would submit to you that if there’s no danger, one doesn’t need as much faith. While we’re walking in our faith, we shouldn’t seek to minimize what we’re actually walking in just to make the trepidation of our brothers and sisters seem less valid. Even if you have the strongest of faith, just know that you weren’t born that way. And even now, you still have moments of weakness. Only a robot can say otherwise.

It was Abram (who would eventually become Abraham), the father of faith, that was told in Genesis 12:1-4 to leave his country and kinfolk and move as God commanded because God was gonna make him a great nation. By Verse 10 of that same Chapter, he was in Egypt because of a famine, encouraging his wife to lie so that they could get what they needed. If you know the story, you know how disastrous this could’ve been for all involved. Instead of showing great faith, Abram showed weak faith. And yet, God still kept them from harm and they left the Pharaoh’s house unscathed.

It was this same Abram in Genesis 16 (after a one on one conversation with God in Chapter 15), along with his wife, that chose to impregnate Hagar because he couldn’t quite see how Sarai (Sarah) was going to have a baby in her old age. In his quest to “help” God, he showed a lack of faith and tried to do it his way. And yet, once again, God kept him.

In the midst of these circumstances, Abram was growing in his faith. The lesson for us is that faithful individuals are not born, they’re grown. For us to condemn people that haven’t grown as we have will actually stunt their growth and cause them to retreat when we do return to some sense of normalcy.

Those episodes that Abram faced tells me that in one moment, even the chosen of God can move in faith, and in another moment, they could be doing things against God in what they believe is an effort to help God. But if we are God’s people, even in moments of weak faith, God will still keep us. And while we may be seeing people displaying weak faith during this time, they need to know that God won’t abandon them because of it. They need to know that God will be patient as they grow, even if we act as if we won’t be.

As we go forward questioning the faith of our fellow Christians, we must remember that we weren’t always as strong as we are now. But we must also remember that God didn’t keep us just so that we can shame people that aren’t on our faith level. He kept us so that we could encourage them. Know that there is a difference between encouragement and criticism. Encouragement lifts you from where you are and criticism condemns you for being there in the first place.

If there’s anything that I want the church to get from all of this is that we’re all growing in faith at our own pace. Some may not be as strong as we are. Many that claim faith haven’t really had their faith tested in this way before. And while we should be bold in proclaiming our “unwavering” faith, we should be sensitive to those that have yet to reach that level.

The best thing that we can be in times like these is an example. While some will respond well to us being instructional about our faith, many more will respond to us being exemplary. If we show what we want them to see, they’ll have more than words to aspire to. Don’t use the Bible to beat them into submission, use it to show them why you have submitted. Not only do some need to grow in their faith, but we also need to grow in our compassion towards those that are yet on their way.

A Word of Caution: The Charges Were Never Dropped Against Us

If you know me or you’ve followed this blog, you know how I am about catchphrases in church. I do my best to combat them. I know that people wanna be clever and say cute things or things that will get them likes and shares on social media, but I always remind people that when it comes to the Word of God, clever, but out of context is still wrong. God’s Word deserve more respect than that. It should never be watered down or manipulated until it’s on par with a catchphrase.

One of the catchphrases getting traction these days in Christian circles is the statement “Jesus dropped the charges”. The first time I heard the phrase, it was in a viral video where a woman was giving her testimony. In short, she said she went to court one day, believing she had a warrant, but to her surprise, the warrant was nowhere to be found. From there, she exclaimed “Jesus dropped the charges!”, and the church went up.

I found it hilarious. I probably even shared it on my Facebook page, because contrary to what people may think when I tear down a Christian catchphrase, I love a good laugh. However, it’s all fun and games until people start taking that joke as Bible.

And here is my issue with things like “When praises go up, blessings come down”, or “Too blessed to be stressed”, things that aren’t supported by Scripture. People begin quoting them so often that they become the fabric of our churches. Combine that with people that won’t come to Bible class to see that some of these things aren’t anywhere to be found in the Bible, and you have people that will quote catchphrases as if they actually are Bible Verses. This seems like a small thing, but it can be quite problematic to the faith.

When we start leaning on things like “Jesus dropped the charges”, we fail to examine what that statement is saying. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love a good joke. As long as it stays that way when it comes to what we believe in our Christian faith. When we examine that statement of charges dropped, we must realize what that means. When charges are dropped, people go free and nobody pays a penalty. Nobody, that is, but the victim of the crime.

When charges are dropped, it’s sometimes due to a lack of evidence, and other times, people being falsely accused. In the case of the young woman in the viral video, she could’ve fallen into either of these categories and thus, the charges were dropped. However, in the case of sin, even though grace and mercy was given to us, there is no lack of evidence and we are by no means innocent or falsely accused.

A quick trip to the book of Romans helps us to understand all of this. In Romans 3:23 we find that we all have sinned and fallen short of His glory (charges filed). In Romans 6:23 we find that the wages of sin is death (punishment established). However, in Romans 5:8-11 we find that while we were sinners (guilty) Christ died for us, and through His blood, we escaped condemnation (freed, but not innocent). Yes, we got off, but not because God backed off. We got off because Jesus stepped up.

The crime of sin that you and I commit on a regular basis is a crime against God, and therefore, God is the first victim of our crimes. David says to God famously in Psalms 51:4 (NLT):

“Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgement against me is just.”

David understands his guilt and he understands who he’s harmed. He also understands that whatever punishment he receives is just. And if you know the story of David and Bathsheba, you know that even though God didn’t take his life, there was still a price to pay (2 Samuel 12:13-24). When you and I sin, we can throw ourselves on the mercy of God’s court and sometimes we won’t pay as harshly as we should for what we’ve done, but that will never, ever be because God dropped any charges against us.

As David said, the evidence is against us. We have fallen short of His glory, just as the Bible says we will (Romans 3:23). Hebrews 9:22 (NLT) tells us that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness”. This means that charges are never dropped as it relates to our wrongdoing. Somebody had to pay.

When we reduce grace, mercy, redemption, and forgiveness to mere catchphrases, we minimize the work of the cross. We minimize the sacrifice that Jesus made for us by taking our place on the cross. He who knew no sin became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) can be translated, He who did nothing wrong paid for the wrong that was done. No, Jesus didn’t drop the charges, Jesus took the charges.

Again, I’m not trying to ruin anybody’s fun, but the church must always remember what’s true. Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT) says:

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.”

We must remember that if everybody gets away with it, then grace is rendered unnecessary. The moment that we forget the fact that someone else paid for what we did, that’s the moment we begin to live recklessly, and that’s the moment that we become ungrateful. I hate to be a wet blanket, but in the midst of our having fun, let us never forget what was done for us on Calvary just to get a few likes, laughs, shares, and amens. Be creative, but be sound. Have a laugh, but have respect for the truth of The Word.

Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that He “endured the cross, disregarding its shame”. My brothers and sisters, there are no dropped charges for the Christian. If I can borrow another catchphrase, “Jesus paid it all”. That one fits because He really and truly did pay for our sins. The nail prints in His hands and feet tells us that someone faced punishment for what we did. Embrace your freedom and celebrate your escape. But in the midst of your celebration, never forget how you got free in the first place.

Yes, Jesus loves me. It really is that simple!

Every now and then, we misapply the phrase “It don’t take all of that”. Many times, we’ll say it without understanding what it really does take. For example, my praise may seem a bit much to a person that has no idea what I’ve been through. However, there are times when the statement is apt. There are times when we make something complicated, when a straightforward explanation is all that’s needed.

When I was young, a staple song at Vacation Bible School every summer and even in Sunday School was “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”. This simple song was reassurance to young Christians, as well as old, that Jesus loved them. As we got to the end of the chorus, we sang “for the Bible tells me so”. In the most simple and direct terms, we saw that God’s love was evident through His Son, and the verification of that fact is found in His Word.

If God’s love can be outlined in such a simplistic way, why have we begun to make the work of evangelism and disciple making so complicated? I don’t know about you, but I’m still blown away when I read two particular passages in the Bible: John 3:16-17 and Romans 5:6-8. It’s in John 3:16-17 that I see just how much God loves me. So much so, that He gave His Son to save my soul, rather than sending His Son to condemn me.

However, it’s in Romans 5:6-8 that I see just what type of person God is in love with. It’s in those verses that I see that He loved me while I was rejecting Him. It’s in those verses in Romans 5:6-8 that I see that God doesn’t love me because of me, He loves me in spite of me. It’s a love that’s difficult to comprehend, but somehow, simple to explain.

As the church looks to carry out the Great Commission, we must be careful not to complicate why people need to come to Jesus and what it means to be saved. We must be mindful not to over market and over strategize what God has made simple in His Word. I know we desire to remain relevant in an ever changing world, but we must do so without sending out the wrong message.

We can’t cloud God’s love with a whole lot of minutia. After all, whatever we have to say about the Word of God is small time if Jesus never comes into the picture. As we often say in Baptist circles, if you haven’t mentioned the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no matter what you have said, you haven’t preached the Gospel.

The message of salvation is centered around the fact that yes, Jesus loves us. Our Bible tells us just how He demonstrated that love. However, we have perverted the Gospel with prosperity preaching and our own theological aspirations. In an effort to show people how financial benevolent our God is or in our quest to get an education just so that we can appear to be the smartest and most spiritual people in the room, we walked away from the simplicity of the Gospel. We’ve taken an incredibly complicated love story, one that was made simple with just a few Bible verses, and made it hard to access for some people.

We have become as Pharisees, who harped on the law so much that the coming Messiah was no longer in their view. To those that were seeking salvation, it no doubt seemed impossible to be saved, because disobeying the law came with a curse. The Pharisees had the challenge of being face to face with Jesus, and therefore, they needed to be convinced of who He was. We, however, have the whole story. We know the outcome.

In our quest to be clever, we’ve complicated Christ. In our reach to be relevant, we’ve reduced being redeemed. If we’re not careful, we’ll weigh people down with rules, regulations, and religious activities, while causing them to miss the simple fact that we are saved by grace, and that grace comes from the fact that yes, Jesus does love us. If we’re not careful, we’ll attempt to exclude people from the Kingdom because they don’t dress like we do, worship like we do, sing like we do, minister like we do, or serve like we do. If we’re not careful, we’ll do our best to cause people to try and get saved according to our mandates, and not by simply believing that Jesus saves.

Again, in its simplest terms, God loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son. His Son then died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, rose on the third day, ascended to The Father, and He’s coming back again. He’s not coming back just for the rich. He’s not coming back just for those that have been to seminary. He’s not coming back just for pastors with large churches or ministries, authors with radio broadcasts, or even those that are uniquely anointed to do Kingdom work. He’s coming back for a church of believers. He’s coming back to get a people that He loves and that love Him in return. How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so. It really is just that simple.

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.

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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