shepherdI once posted a question on Facebook, “PASTORS: Are you hoarding and lording or leading and feeding?” and received precious few responses. I was actually surprised because I thought most would stand up and claim that they were doing the latter and not the former. I have come to the conclusion that far too many pastors and leaders are controversy-averse, shying away from anything that moves us out of our comfort zones. We need to stop this and start facing difficult subject matter head-on.

The church is terribly lacking in dialogue. God said to Isaiah, “come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). Why, then, don’t we? There are some serious issues that are facing this sick and dying world and church as usual ain’t helping!

We have Islam growing and seeking to expand its reach into the fabric of our nation and we simply say, “Can we all just get along?” No, we cannot. We must preach the Gospel! Jesus drew the line in the sand in John 14:6, when He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Christianity is not just another religion, it is a way of life. Better yet, it is THE WAY TO LIFE! We must be loving and civil but we must preach the truth nonetheless. Instead of allowing Islam to make inroads into our communities, we need to push back gently, explaining that Jesus is not a way, He is THE WAY!

We have young black men killing each other at an alarming rate. More and more young people are incarcerated and, thus, indoctrinated into a life of recidivism. Black women have the highest rate of HIV-AIDS in the country. Teenage pregnancy is an epidemic. Depression runs rampant. All the while we wring our collective hands, quoting scripture and doing nothing. There should be news stories in the media and by word-of-mouth reported daily of how the church is mentoring young men into leadership, counseling of young men and women on how to maintain sexual purity, how the joy of the Lord can break the stronghold of depression. These are the things that require our immediate attention and resources.

Picture this scenario: one Sunday a month, instead of packing the pews, listening to the latest solo and the whoop of the man of God, how about we deploy into our respective communities and manifest the kingdom. Imagine the impact if you go to someone’s door and ask them, “What can I do for you, today?” Some folks don’t need a material blessing, rather, they just need a person to talk to, or someone to speak a life-changing word to their children. But for those who do need a material blessing, let’s take the money that has been set aside for bigger, grander facilities and use it to really bless someone! You know, food, clothing, gas money!

We need to be preaching the Love of God and the Liberty in Christ. We need to preach the standard of holiness, which is separateness and integrity, not whether a woman wears pants or whether a man has long hair! We need to teach the blessing of giving and the principles of sowing and reaping minus the bondage. You know what I’m talking about: telling folks that if they don’t tithe, God will get the money from them in medical bills or something else. As if God, who created EVERYTHING with HIS WORD, actually needs our money!

We are called to be separate; a peculiar people (I Peter 2:9). Trouble is, nobody wants to be peculiar. Folks want to be normal, living in their insular, climate-controlled homes, working their ordinary 9-5 jobs, and worshipping in their big, pretty churches. Peculiar means UNUSUAL or DIFFERENT; we are called to stand out, not blend in! We need to get out of our collective comfort zones and get out and minister the medicine of Jesus Christ to the world. Are we going to be content with increasing our membership rolls or are we going out to make disciples?

Discipleship is hard because at its core is discipline. It takes discipline to be physically, fiscally, and spiritually fit. But discipleship means enduring some hard truths. One of my high school coaches once told me that my work ethic (at that time) was insufficient for college sports. I bristled at that statement but, considering the fact I did not play college ball, he was right. Discipleship is not for the faint-hearted, it requires saying and hearing tough things about others and ourselves that are necessary for growth. We need to be about the work laid out in Ephesians 4:11-16, training and equipping the saints to get out and do the work of the Kingdom, not just fill a space in a pew.

Now, if you are a pastor or leader reading this and you can look yourself in the mirror and know this doesn’t apply to you, please let it roll off your back. On the other hand, if you are convicted by these words, say “ouch,” repent, roll up your sleeves and get to work!

God loves you and so do I. Let’s get the work of the Kingdom done!

2010 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)

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