2008 State of the Body of Christ Address!

I am writing this post to address the recent events in The Body of Christ that has left many individuals bewildered. This is my State of the Body of Christ Address! It is actually just a call for the Body of Christ to put on their thinking caps in this critical time period. The Church has some challenges at this very moment and there are certainly more challenges coming. The Internet is buzzing with news about one televangelist’s infractions or another. It is indeed a challenging moment for many believers. I believe that the last 7-10 years have recorded some of the church’s greatest triumphs, but I also believe that the next several years-(If God Delays His Return) will record some of the church’s greatest challenges. Just when we were saying, “Peace, Peace” then came these major challenges!

Television Ministry is such a powerful outreach tool that it has enabled many preachers to reach multitudes and multitudes of people. A by-product of this type of outreach is that it makes the television minister a virtual celebrity, whether or not that minister seeks fame or not. These television ministers are put on a pedestal that elevates them above the state of the local pastor. It is exceptionally difficult for the infractions of a prominent televangelist to not make National News and cause a reproach that the Body of Christ has to work for a long season to overcome. Should we reconsider some of our television outreaches?

I am a proud member of the Church of God in Christ, a denomination that has just celebrated it’s 100th year of existence. Our denomination is getting over the loss of our Presiding Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson earlier last year. This was a celebrated man of God that maintained a humble personality and kept the common touch. His death was an incredible loss for our national church, that has left our national church in transition. The Bishop Charles E. Blake,  who is the Presiding Bishop of The Church of God in Christ, Inc. ; he won an election by The General Assembly of The Church of God in Christ, Inc. in November 2007, and he will get to finish out Bishop Patterson’s term. He also has to win reelection in November 2008. What changes will these transitions bring to The Church of God in Christ, Inc. as a whole? Are other denominations experiencing these type of political transitions or even political upheavals?

We are seeing an entire generation of our Fathers in the Faith starting to depart from the scene. Is this generation receiving the torch from these Fathers of the Faith, or are these Fathers of the Faith taken their torches with them, instead of passing their torches to the next generation? When will the church get tired of preachers sitting on other preachers to keep them from excelling? How many cities across America has stories of the older preachers fighting the younger preachers?

The Prosperity Gospel have won many believers to it’s teachings. I would submit that God does not want believers waiting until they die to receive their pie in the sky. Many of the teachings of the old church did need addressing. God does want believers to prosper! I can’t say that he is calling the church to the Bentley Ministry or the Bling Bling Gospel. Have we taken the Prosperity Gospel too far? Many are busy gaining the whole world and then losing their own souls. Has prosperity and money been the subject of too many of our sermons in this crucial hour?

The Church Growth Movement of the last decade has left many of our churches seeing numbers as the only gauge of successful ministry. How many members do you have is the first question that is posed to a Pastor when one meets him. The question should be, “How effective are the ministries of your church”? Are we focusing on quantity of members so much that the quality of members has declined? Should we celebrate numerical benchmarks that we exceed as much as we celebrate the number of our members that are committed to Holy Living and the tenets of Holiness? Should positions and titles mean so much to believers and workers in the church?

Are the marriages of the Saints or even preachers doing better than the marriages of those of the world? We live in an age of divorced clergymen and clergywomen. What should our response be to these individuals? Why are so many of our first ladies just that? Should having a first lady mean that there shouldn’t be a second lady or third lady? Can we attack lust and sexual immorality with the same zeal that we possess when we are running after prosperity?

Have we abandoned the Social Gospel of the sixties and the seventies? Are we still our brother’s keeper? Will we fight for the little man, or will we stay politically correct so we can keep receiving the key to the city, and other perks from the governments of our cities? Should the church remain silent when wickedness, racism, oppression, and sins of all kinds reign in our world? Should we remain silent about the sins of Homosexuality because of the tide of public opinion that is seemingly turning their way?

There are many different denominations and reformations that are marching under the banner of Jesus Christ. Can we find our common ground instead of our doctrinal differences to rally around? What couldn’t an unified Christian Army accomplish? Isn’t it amazing that some of our churches fight over doctrinal differences like the Hatfields and the McCoys. Wouldn’t it be better to spend this time in a joint effort to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world? Do we not realize that our enemy is busy uniting his forces to try to destroy our churches? Are we cognizant that our enemy is entering his last hour, and he is playing for keeps. Are some in the church asleep at the helm?

Will we realize that Jesus is really coming back soon? Are we at ease in Zion? Are we asleep in this last hour? Will we return to prayer and fasting? Will we forgive others in the same manner that we desire for God to forgive us? Will we stop being so judgemental and critical of other members of the Body? Will we forsake our stupor and get to work like a people that are preparing for the return of Jesus Christ? Will we realize that the return of Jesus Christ doesn’t take a back seat to the next major conference, or national election that is coming up? Let’s get right church and get ready for the church’s greatest test and then the church’s greatest hour!

Respectfully Submitted,

Pastor Stephen F. Smith