Besides us regular folk setting goals for the new year, one of the other things January is known for especially here in Africa is churches launching themes for the year. Most churches have by now declared already what the year will be for their congregants while others wait for their pastor to return from the mountain to give them the “vision” they received from God about the New Year.
For example, on New Year’s Eve Pastor Chris of Christ Embassy declared that this would be the year of ‘flourishing’ (Psalm 92) for his followers, and our very own Prophet Bushiri declared this year a year of “honey” for his followers. Now just a heads up, this post is not about these men in particular although I am using them as an example of pastors/churches that have publicly declared their theme.
This post is rather about the dangers of mishandling scripture, and some things you should be on the lookout for as your church launches its theme or declares the year.
- Is what my pastor/church is doing biblical?? As a Christian everything we do in this life rests on this, because the bible is the word of God, it is our only authority and the authority to which our leaders must abide by. The church’s doctrine is built upon Christ and the teachings of the apostles, with every church practice, any serious Christian must ask themselves “is this in the bible?” “Why does our church do this?”. On that note, is it biblical to declare a “word” from the Lord to the church for the year? Did the apostles or church fathers practice this?
- How is my pastor handling the word of God? One of the most dangerous things I have seen in churches that declare “a word” upon their church is the lack of context in the scriptures used. Most pastors will take a portion of scripture and present it to the whole congregation to run with it. The bible is one whole story, each book has its author, and an audience it was written initially for and the times in which those people live in. Ignoring all these important aspects of scripture interpretation can easily lead us to misquoting scripture and ‘claiming’ the wrong promises for your congregation as they wonder why the Lord doesn’t bless them. Before you ‘receive’ the word that your pastor or prophet has brought for you this year, please make sure he has rightly handled the word of God.
- Is my pastor only talking about the good stuff? One of the most dangerous messages that the church in Africa is currently facing is the prosperity message. Most pastors only care about telling you how much God wants to bless you and make you “flourish” by giving you material blessings and advancement. And yes, that might very well be the case, but in a church of 10,000 people I found it doubtful that God has not planned to BLESS other people with trials and better yet bless them with HIMSELF as the ultimate blessing one can get rather than a new car, house or bae. The greatest blessing your pastor should be talking about is the blessing of God and his on Jesus Christ who blessed us eternally by redeeming us and the Holy Spirit who blesses us by helping us to grow in righteousness. On the same note, there are some pastors that will use money (tithing, seeding etc.) as a means to which you can earn God’s blessings, please be warned that God cannot be bought. He blesses us his own will and when we obey his will and ultimately he blesses us differently and the greatest blessing is himself. He is more concerned in your sanctification than your financial prosperity, and so should your pastor.
“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22, ESV.
There is so much more I could write about all these 3 questions I just mentioned, and I hope I will one day. But for now my prayer is that you will critically look at your church practices which ever church you belong to and weigh them against the bible. I pray that you will be in a place that values God’s word over man’s revelations, I pray that God will keep you away from the love of the things of this world and help you treasure him as the greatest blessing.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42, KJV.
Grace and Peace,