Judgement & Jealousy in the Pews
I love social media. As an entrepreneur and brand coach, I know how important social media is. For churches, it has helped spread the gospel even faster. Churches and pastors are now able to connect to members, visitors, and the world in just a few seconds. However, social media has also given many a platform to tear down the church walls instead of building them up. I understand that we all have our opinions. However, it's a really sad thing when we have more haters within the church walls than outside. When it comes to mega-pastors and televangelists, this is where I have come to draw the line. I've been trying to figure out if people are 3 year olds or mature adults who understand how to confront a brother/sister in Christ. In the bible, especially the New Testament, it brings up repeatedly how to approach someone within the faith that we disagree with. Instead what I see is pure mockery instead of praying. If I see another Joel Osteen or TD Jakes Meme tearing down these brothers in Christ, I'm immediately blocking that person. My main issue is that we're producing more division instead of bridging gaps and promoting what we DO love within the body of Christ.
How did your mockery or post bring a soul to Christ? How did your rant about why you hate or dislike a certain preacher or teacher teach someone about the love of Christ?
No where in the bible does it say that we are rip apart someone even if we don't agree with their theology. Now if you can find it for me then I will edit this article. However, these types of actions do not mimic the heart of Jesus. What's even more hilarious is that the same time we spent ripping apart someone else could be spent teaching God's Word to others. Your hate and dislike is a waste of time. It's also not done in love.
Many claim that they can discern but discernment is always done in love. Even when you correct another person in the faith, it's supposed to be done in love. If we would be honest, many of our judgements are done in flesh and not by the Holy Spirit. When we judge another, it should be well-rounded. I will be honest. There are some teachers of God's Word that don't have the most sound theology. There are some that are selling anointing oil for $15.99 and charging you for a prophetic word. Do I agree with what they do?
No. However, I know that as their brother and sister in Christ, I must pray and continue to teach and spread the Word of God that I have been commanded to do. God will reveal and expose what He desires. However, if I can't say or do something in love, my judgement is nothing but an opinion surrounded by stinky flesh.
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
The scripture above is used by many to talk about "sugarcoating" doctrine. Again, I do agree that there is unsound doctrine being teached. I do see teaching that is pleasing to the flesh. However, I love what it says at the very end of this passage. It starts off with BUT. In other words, yes all of this madness is going on BUT you need to focus on the work that you have been called to do. It says FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY. Notice that it doesn't say fulfill another person's ministry and take over what they are doing because you don't like it. It doesn't say to fulfill another person's purpose or calling. It doesn't say fulfill your jealous desires to compete with another person's ministry. It says fulfill your ministry. It's really simple. It's just that as humans we make it really complicated. We take on this "judge" role and we begin to prosecute and indict other brothers/sisters in Christ as if we are God. Look, just focus on what God has called you to do. Either you love wasting your time or you just don't want to pray for the same person you condemn.
Many stir up so much division that it's worse than the sugarcoating preacher/teacher. Sometimes your hateful mouth does more wrong than horrible doctrine. Yup. That's the real comedy.
I'll never forget when people were talking about Creflo Dollar purchasing a jet of some sort. My timeline on Facebook was crazy. I sat here thinking about a man that was looking for hope or a woman that was about to give up on life and instead of you being focused on your ministry of spreading the gospel, you are filling up my timeline giving your 2 cents about someone else. I personally could care less about Creflo's jet because I was too busy talking to people within Girls of Royalty and 4A Ministries about stuff that we needed to get done. It's all about the mentality. The hilarious part is that the church had more to say than the world. We have too much to do for God to talk about nonsense.
Now let's talk about jealousy within ministry. I think it's time to really talk about this because it's something that touches not just the leaders and members but also our perspective and purpose.
If anyone was to ask me what was the number one thing though that broke my heart when it comes to things that I'm seeing in certain circles within ministry, it would be competition. We're humans. I get it. Ministry is about dealing with the heart. So it shouldn't be surprising when you have people with competing spirits. People now compare churches as if they are God sitting on the throne. People make their own lists of who is important in the Kingdom of God like children picking crayons in a box. There are gossip sites and YouTube channels dedicated to gossip within the church and condemning pastors and rating their theology.
When something happens to a ministry a person did not favor, attack immediately comes out of their mouths. Some even rejoice when a ministry or pastor fails or a horrible experience happens. What has gone wrong in our local collected bodies? Pastors and members now compare the size of their church to others and discount the moving of God period as if God must have at least 100 people present in order to move. What's going on?
- Heart Check & Motives
You can always tell where a person's heart points by how they lead. If they are always trying to outdo ministries that are in their area or within the same demographic pool, that's an issue. There's also an issue when members leave because someone has a larger facility or a cooler worship experience. The church is the body not the building. The church meets within a building because A/C and heat are a blessing! Within this building, the members of the body of Christ encourage and strengthen one another. The pastor educates the members with God-given and inspired teachings. Within this body of Christ, the Holy Spirit moves and the gifts of the Spirit (should) flow in full operation. The members contribute to one another and look to give more than they receive. I believe that one major reason why leaders find themselves competing is because they depend on members more than God. I learned this personally by looking at my home church. In the early 2000's my grandfather was getting ready to leave the earth. He was the founding pastor of Revival Fellowship Church and started many churches in the North East and in the South of the USA. He was passionate about souls! I remember seeing him preach at tent revivals and in churches all over! He was committed to Christ and did not hold back! My parents had been put over a small church in New Jersey in a small town called Salem. This was probably the smallest location out of all of the RFC churches. The church was pretty much a storefront and probably didn't hold more than 50 people. On certain Sundays, we would get a few people. There would be other Sundays where it would be only a handful. We had church rain or shine. It was about the body of Christ. I watched my parents follow God and not man. My grandfather soon passed away and my parents took over the churches.
People turned. Their hearts turned. The church dwindled and we were back to being a small church at one location in Delaware. What I saw was that people were following my grandfather but not God. They didn't agree with my Grandfather's decision to pass the church to my father and mother. They loved to hear him preach and they waited for his every word until he gave his last one. The same people that kissed me on the cheek as "Pastor's Grandbaby" soon became ghosts of the past.
My parents did not mind though. I'm sure they were a bit hurt and probably confused. However, they understood that God did not call them to please the members. God called them to please Him and God would honor that. My parents were never too fond of being like other churches. Our church doesn't have a lot of the latest technology. For several years our church had a Jurassic Park website (horrible looking). Because our church is small, our budget isn't huge. However, we've learned to be really creative. We have some awesome things coming soon within our church. Yet, we've never been focused on what other people are doing. We've had people leave and tell us that we didn't have enough programs. I remember someone telling us that we don't have enough events and initiatives.
My response: Have a blessed day.
I've read some awesome books by leaders like Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel on church and church growth. The #1 lesson that I've pulled from these two is to be strong and firm on establishing your church culture. Every church has their own culture. Competition changes your culture and then pushes people into a direction that God never intended. You may grow but I'd rather grow slow with God then fast by my flesh and desire to top someone else. You will burn out when it isn't God driven.
Here's another thing. When you focus on competition in ministry, you stop building off of the creativity to do your "God-work" and focus instead of using your creativity for competition. This is the one arena where everything must be God driven. You will be driven by the success and the failures of others. When they achieve great heights, you will feel an urge to take your own vision and push it to overcome theirs. The moment they hit lows, you will feel as if you are in a better place than them and feel great. If you find yourself at this point, you're in a sick condition. There's nothing wrong with looking to other churches for inspiration but competition is a spirit that will drown your church and the members with it.
The moment we start looking at what people are doing, we will begin to compromise our purpose. God never meant for ministries to compete. He meant for ministry to support one another. However, many can't even support each other because some are scared that someone will have the upper hand. We treat our churches like the stock market. Who went up today? Who dropped? Members begin to say: Should I sell? Should I buy?
Churches begin acting like companies. They push out products to compete with the other companies. They want to please their stockholders (members).
God is saying: This is not the stock market. This is the church. So we must ask about where the heart is and what are the motives.
- Rejoicing When A Leader Falls
This is the one thing that makes me sick (probably because it happened to my own family). When my parents went to prison in 2012, I then knew what jealousy in ministry really looked like. My parents were indicted for tax fraud for a family business a couple years ago and the enemy thought he had won. They shouldn't have went (the accountants should have). However, that's not the point of this article. In 2012, our church lost their pastors for a short period of time. How people really felt about my parents came out once the news had spread about what happened. People who used to visit and be members of our church years ago (when my grandfather was alive) begin to talk about how my parents deserved what had happened to them. These were apparently "brothers and sisters in Christ". Did they pray for my family or even for me? Nope. Instead we had people prey on the ministry asking who would lead it. Some even tried to establish themselves as "substitute pastors" who were really just members looking to take their pride to the next level. Of course, they no longer attend our church. People were gossiping left and right saying that the church was going to close. When the storm came, people talked more than they prayed. People began telling others that they needed to go to another church and they even told them where specifically they should go.
People were waiting for something horrible to happen to my parents and when it did, they rejoiced in another man's pain. See it wasn't a matter of what was right or wrong. It was a matter of: Will you pray for your brother/sister when they fall? Will you help them get back up? Will you love in spite of? More people contacted members within our church for gossip than asked if they needed anything or if they were alright. They just lost their leaders for a moment of time. I'm trying to figure out where Christ was in all of their spiritual gifts.
I am reminded of Paul in Philippians 1:12-30 (MSG). I URGE you to read the entire thing because it's that amazing.
I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else too, found out that I'm in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they've learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the Christians here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah. It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better––they think––for them. So how am I to respond? I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on! And I'm going to keep that celebration going because I know how it's going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don't expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn't shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can't lose. As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We'll be praising Christ, enjoying each other. Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people's trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they're up against:defeat for them, victory for you––and both because of God. There's far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There's also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. You're involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through, on which you are now getting an updated report in this letter.
What happened to my parents taught me a very valuable lesson about jealousy in the pews. It taught me that there is nothing more powerful than the gospel of Jesus Christ. When my parents went into their prison camps, they were able to spread the gospel. My mother told me that when she got into the prison, she would get up early to pray. The women would watch her. My mother wasn't shaken by what people said about her. She knew that her light would shine even in the darkest of places. The women began to ask her questions about God. Soon, they would wait until she would get up and would pray with her. She began to lead women to Christ. My father did the same thing. He would ask us to ship him books from Christian authors. He would share the books and lead bible study in the prison. On Sundays, they would watch the word of God on television and then have a small bible study. My dad would pray for the men. My mother left after receiving early release. I will never forget that day. It wasn't that she was getting released that hit me the hardest. There were women lined up on the hill that were all ethnicities. They were yelling and waving goodbye as she walked down the hill to the car. I couldn't even believe that the prison had let all these women come outside to say goodbye. My mother had impacted that prison. For an entire year I was in pure agony from not having my mother physically near me but God was using that prison as a place of purpose for my mother. Just like Paul, my mother was given a pulpit. If you want to know where your faith really stands, get thrown into the lion's den. My mother had lost weight and had received almost years back due to the rest she had received in the prison. My mother was a work-a-holic. This woman was a hard worker and that one year in prison gave her a required rest that she hadn't had in years. When my father came home almost two years later, the years of our pain was at an end. It was almost hilarious as he went through the process of coming home. He stuck out like a sore thumb. My dad is a man of true faith. You would have thought that his experience would have silenced him or had taken away his joy. If anything, it fired him up. The energy that he has now for the things of God is nothing but supernatural. When He was inside the prison, he would send me emails with prayers and confessions. He preached to me from within the prison cell. I should have been encouraging Him but it was the other way around.
When people are jealous of you, they will try to throw rocks. However, I like what one of my father's spiritual dads said. He said: I will not throw back at you the rocks you throw at me. Instead, I will use them to build a bridge because one day you will be following me.
Don't take your eyes off of what God has called you to do. When I spent time heavily as a creative director for brands, I would always ask them one question. Why do you do what you do? Why are you passionate about this mission? The moment you start copying someone else's vision or competing with it, you will instantly lose yours. There is nothing wrong with having a cool sanctuary and having a cool logo and flyers. However, there aren't enough events, designs, and buildings that can overtake the anointing.
The one thing that I love about RFC (my home church) is that it was where God planted me. I have grown so much and have learned so much. As I assume the new role as Creative Services Director at this church as a full time volunteer, I am learning to stay focused. You have to be focused on souls and cultivating those who attend your church. Never be intimidated or feel defeated because of your size. No it's not perfect. It has its flaws. However, it's a church made of humans. If it didn't have flaws, it wouldn't be a church. Church is about growing with people and learning how to grow within yourself. I've learned where I have failed as a person internally and externally. The body of Christ forces you to evolve and change.
I've been to churches that are larger and have "cooler" things to do. However, whether you've been planted by God at a large, medium, or small church, know that you're planted. That's a wonderful place to be. RFC is a small church. Yet, we have never felt like there was an issue with our size. If you keep on having an issue with your size, the issue isn't the size. The issue is you and how you see what God is doing. Every soul is important to God and if we can not care for the small, what good is it for God to send more? With our small community, I have accountability like never before. If I don't show up to church, I'm going to get a text from somebody. I remember one of the older saints asking me where I was because they hadn't seen me for some time. I appreciate that. I appreciate how at the small church I have the ability to be hands on with projects and help push our church further in technology.
I do believe that God has given me these talents to help my church. I believe that with my knowledge and expertise, I can push the vision of my parents (pastors) and really help impact our small body. You don't impact with the goal to gain more people. You impact with the goal to impact those present and to change lives through God's power. You have to have a pure heart with an intention to touch the people. Don't look for a pat on the back from people. Never depend on people's praises because ministry is not about you. It's nice when people acknowledge you but ministry is something that you can not go into and focus on you. It's the most unselfish position you can take. Some people rush to it with the idea for fame and money. It's not a pretty walk through the park. You're dealing with the flaws of man. The church is the home for the flawed. If you are seeking for a place that seeks perfection, try working at the makeup store or work in a plastic surgeon's office. However, the church's job is to help people deal with their flaws with the power of Christ. God gives us grace to change our lives into something that will testify of His goodness.
Learn to appreciate what you have. Learn to find the beauty in the work that you do. Our eyes must be focused on Christ. Read what Paul says again in Philippians 1. Yes there will be suffering. People may talk about you and may try to tear you down. You may feel as if your ministry or calling isn't good enough compared to others. However, keep your focus on what God has called you to do. You've been through too much to give up. You actually can't give up if you pray. Prayer is what kept my family and I. It is what will keep you. It will strengthen you in the hardest times.
Remember that the message of the Gospel is not about who can do it better. It's about how can we serve God in a way that impacts and draws others to Christ. The enemy is busy doing his job. Just make sure you are doing yours.