I often think that God is going to judge my generation of preachers and pastors for allowing the people under our influence to become so familiar with God that they no longer fear and honor him. We want our churches full so badly that we don't care to exhort people to exhibit Christian Behavior, not realizing that God does not show up in power where He is not honored. So we have churches full of people who have been in church for multiple years but are simply "Fans" of Jesus stopping short of the biblical mandate of being "Followers" of Jesus, "Liking" Christ and at the same time not loving Him enough to Honor Him. But I'm praying that God give me and my fellow shepherds the courage to declare the truth, that you can be a "Fan" of Jesus and still go to hell because we do not "Follow" Jesus. The true mark of whether or not we have been changed is whether or not we feel compelled to serve God fully and live in obedience to Christ by following His commands as laid out in scripture or if we do as Jude says in Jude 1:4 "Turn the grace of God in to sinfulness" by constantly excusing a lack of obedience to God with statements like "God Understands" or "It's not that serious" which actually speaks to the depths of our apathy and how disconnected we are to the heart of God because the truth is God does not accept nor does he "understand" disobedience as a matter of fact he hates it so much that he created a place of eternal punishment called hell for those who do it; furthermore, ALL OF GOD'S COMMANDS are THAT SERIOUS, including the often neglected disciplines of faithful attendance in corporate worship and the command to honor God with your finances and support the ministry of the local church.
Now, I will say this, I think that some of our forefathers may have emphasized this too much in the wrong way. Using poor exegesis to manipulate people in an ungodly way but at the same time we cannot allow that truth to cause us to under-emphasize what God has commanded us to do. The truth of the matter is every week we stand behind the "Sacred Desk" whether it be a classic wooden pulpit, a rolling podium or a music stand, LIVES ARE AT STAKE. We have a responsibility to sound an alarm that danger is imminent but salvation has been made available through Jesus Christ.This has never been so important because the sad reality is that this generation of pastors in the African American Church specifically will be the first to confront a generation of "un-churched" (those with no exposure to Christian worship) people because they are a generation who have been raised by the "de-churched" (those who for whatever reason fell away from Christian worship) Preachers the burden is on us to inspire people to truly walk with God and to honor His commands. We must recommit ourselves to the proclamation of the truth, to the centrality of the Cross, to the authority of the scriptures, to the necessity of empowerment of the Holy Spirit and to the importance of corporate worship. We must inspire those whom we lead to love God more than just on Sundays for 90 minutes and to obey Him in every area of their lives and to raise children who will fear and reverence God so that when the spirit calls them to salvation they will not hesitate to answer. This is my hope and I pray He gives us courage and strength to perform the task. And when you mount the pulpit to preach week after week, don't let small crowds discourage you, but rather believe that God will meet every need and provide for His Church. Let us make the focus of our preaching preachment to grow Big Christians not big crowds because the book of Acts teaches us that Big Christians may sometimes bring great crowds but they ALWAYS do great ministry.
Grace and Peace.