On yesterday’s OITC, I got a little long-winded (hey, I’m a church girl, what do you expect?) so I had to extend this into a two-part series. If you haven’t read the first part of the 10 Things That Need to Stop!, you can click here to read #1-5. Thank you all so much for your feedback. It is really so encouraging to know that I’m not as “out there” as I was beginning to think I was.

Let us continue…

6. Stop it with this title foolishness. PLEASE. For the love of God. STOP!!! (I had to laugh at this point a friend made yesterday: we can call the Savior by His first name, but everyone else has to have a title. LOL!) Look, I respect any true prophet, bishop, apostle, pastor, evangelist, overseer, deacon, minister, or elder. I really do. But your title does not define who you are, nor is it necessary to identify you in the body of Christ. Let your work speak for you. When the miracles, signs and wonders follow you, the people will know exactly who you are. The Black church tends to use titles to separate the two classes – clergy and lay members, but that tradition has caused a lot of foolishness: for example, people using titles they haven’t rightfully earned, people striving for titles instead of striving for GOD, people becoming arrogant about their titles, bragging about their titles, lying about their titles, flaunting their titles, and worst of all, using titles that don’t represent their true calling. Not to mention all the “new” titles we’ve created that can’t even be found in the Bible!!!! (<— now THAT is a hot mess! Man-made titles? We should be embarrassed, not proud!)  How can we defend that to an unbeliever?  This is, unfortunately, more common in the Black charismatic church than in any other. And this is part of the reason the church as an institution has lost its credibility with unbelievers. We should be embarrassed, but again, we’re not. It’s just part of our culture. But for Bible believers, the precedent set in the Word of God should trump culture. In the Bible, Paul was just Paul. Timothy was just Timothy. Peter was just Peter. Philip (the evangelist) was just Philip. For crying out loud, just be happy being John or Sally. Let’s try that. God’s way is still the best way.

And before I move on to #7, let me add this: stop relying on politics to bestow titles, licenses, ordinations, consecration and installation. It’s ridiculous, and again: EMBARRASSING! I’ve never seen so many 19 year old apostles in all my life… ain’t even pastored a group of your baby sister’s teddy bears, and you’re an apostle? And how many pastors join these home-made organizations because they are promised the title of bishop? I remember the day when you had to prove yourself; work your way through the ranks… start out as a junior missionary, serve there faithfully for years and years before becoming a missionary… then serve there faithfully for more years before becoming an evangelist. Nowadays, you hoop one good time and somebody will give you a collar and call you Assistant Pastor. SMH!

7. Stop tolerating character flaws and unholy lifestyles in leadership! (I Timothy 3) Nobody is perfect. But doggonit, church leaders need to be above reproach, and if they can’t, they need to sit down until they are ready to serve with clean hands. Unbelievers don’t trust the church (and neither do many churchgoers) not just because church leaders aren’t living holy lives, but because we try to cover it up, deny it, lie about it, and won’t confess it (which is a Biblical principle). That’s what makes a hypocrite. Falling into error doesn’t make a hypocrite; trying to pretend you’re holy when you’re not is what makes a hypocrite. Apostles, Bishops, and Pastors (or Overseers) need to hold each other and their subordinates accountable! Enough of this “fake it till you make it” foolishness. Enough “struggling” and waiting on deliverance and breakthrough. As I said recently, some things don’t require deliverance, they just require a DECISION. And if you wear a title, you should’ve made that decision before you accepted the title. You can decide to live holy. I don’t care what you struggle with; either you’re going to live holy or you’re not, and if you’re not – take a seat next to Sis. Jane in the 3rd row.

8. Stop abusing the pulpit! I think sometimes we forget that God is watching. When pastors take the mic and use that time to advance their own agendas, boost their own egos, ramble for hours about absolutely nothing of substance, or verbally assault the people of God, they will be held accountable. The worship service is not the time to be throwing off because the leaders aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. Too many pastors are guilty of gossiping over the pulpit, which causes the saints to (a) try to figure out who pastor is talking about, (b) discuss it with other saints after church, and (c) judge the accused member based on what they heard from the pulpit. Paul said in I Corinthians 2 “when I came to you to preach, I was determined not to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, declaring only the testimony of God. I didn’t want you to have faith in me, but in God” (paraphrased). The pulpit is for the declaration of the gospel. Save the extra stuff for a meeting. We need to be re-trained to keep our minds on Jesus from the time we enter the sanctuary until the time we leave. All these announcements and rebukes and storytelling and jokes and things are just distractions.

9. Stop raising up people who don’t know the Word for themselves. We got so caught up in building the enterprise we call church, that somehow we stopped teaching apologetics. Too few churchgoers can defend their faith and tell you why they believe what they believe. They can quote the scriptures they memorized, but if you challenge their interpretation in context, they are lost. They simply parrot what they’ve heard, and believe what they’re told because everyone around them believes it. Then when they get eaten up by an atheist or Jehovah’s Witness, the only thing they can do is plead the blood and walk away. It’s a lost opportunity to win a soul for Christ. We’ve got to teach the troops to articulate why they believe what they believe, and how to counter the arguments that contradict their beliefs.

10. Stop opening up all these doggone churches! *sigh* I’m going to tell you something you already know, but probably prefer to ignore. From the first century until recent decades, churches were built and established based on community needs. The people of a particular town came together to worship, and the local church was established. Today, as you know, that’s not so much the case. I could rant, but I’m going to keep it simple: if there aren’t a group of people in the community that need a place to come together to worship, you may need to reconsider your motives. Not wanting to submit to your pastor’s leadership is NOT a valid reason to start a church. Wanting to beef up your “pastoral resume” by having “one church in seven locations” is NOT a valid reason to start a church. Wanting to increase your “footprint” is NOT a valid reason to start a church. Even receiving a prophetic word is NOT a valid reason… Sit down somewhere and serve. And get clarity on the pastoral call before you go shopping for a location. Not every pastor is called to pastor a church. (You’ll get that when you get home… lol). <— hey, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to throw a cliché at least once! 🙂

BONUS: I had to throw this one in there… stop failing to teach love. Those who don’t show love don’t even know God… our tongues are sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Their gifts and deeds mean NOTHING if we don’t show love. It’s the commandment on which all the laws and prophetic words depend. It’s our ID card as Christians. I would like to see the body of Christ love each other – and unbelievers – better. I really hate this thing we do when we expose one another, discuss one another, judge, etc. I know some people can find scriptures to say that that’s okay, but I can find some to say that it’s not – so it comes down to motive and intention… and I think that nine times out of ten, the motive is to be messy, condescending, and busy… not to be helpful and loving.

To be honest, this list could end at 20 things… or maybe even 30. Not to mention the 20 or 30 things that a pastor would say the lay members need to do to make the church better. But no matter where it ends, it isn’t anything more than words on a website if we, the body of Christ, don’t step up to the challenge and commit to effect change for the Kingdom (the true Kingdom, not the clichéd fad word we like to use today).

As always, I welcome your feedback. What do you think? Do you see things getting better in the church? Or do you think they’ll get worse?