“But I blame some of our pastors for this lackadaisical attitude many church members have about church attendance,” Prophet Malcolm continued.
“Why is that?” Bishop Akron said.
“One, they themselves are not preaching the whole counsel of God. Two, they do not have their own homes in order, for as the Bible says in First Timothy ‘for if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house how can he take care of the church of God?’ Three, these pastors are living in sin themselves and so they cannot really stand in the pulpit and preach with authority; therefore, they pick and choose parts of the Word which they feel will make the people happy and which will not convict them. I believe for a preacher to be effective in his preaching, he must first preach at himself; he must first preach at his own sin and get his heart right with God. If he does so, then he will hit everybody else. But it seems many of these sinning pastors are quite happy in their sins.”
Bishop Akron swallowed but managed to eek out, “That’s the height of hypocrisy.”
“It is,” Prophet Malcolm said. “It says in the book of Psalms that if I do not confess my sins the Lord will not hear me, so the Lord is not hearing the prayers of many pastors because they refuse to not only give up their sins, but first they refuse to even confess their sins because once they confess their sins they know it is incumbent upon them to repent, and many do not want to do that because they love their sins more than they love God. An evangelist friend of mine shared with me that a church went through the expense of flying him overseas to preach at a revival meeting they were having. He said the pastor picked him up from the airport and on their ride to the hotel the pastor shared with him, ‘Brother So-and-So, I do not know if I really want revival. I have not even been praying to that end.’”
“Oh, really? Now why would he not want revival? I mean, if he and the members get their hearts right and begin to live as they should then that should turn out well for him,” Bishop Akron said.
“But that would also mean more attacks from the devil,” Prophet Malcolm said matter-of-factly. “But as I talked more with the evangelist, he said the pastor shared with him that there was so much sin in the church which he had preached about and still the people were not willing to get rid of their sins. The pastor even admitted that he had some struggles which he was not sure he wanted to give up.”
“Well, at least he was honest,” Bishop Akron said.
“Yes. I give him credit for that. God can work with an honest person. A lot of pastors don’t realize that if they play church then inevitably the members are going to play church also. If they don’t pray then the people aren’t going to pray. If they don’t go soul-winning the people aren’t going to go soul-winning. You can’t get people to do what you aren’t doing yourself.”
“Paul told Timothy some are ever learning but never really coming to the truth. The people come to church Sunday after Sunday with their minds already made up before they pull into the church’s parking lot that they are not going to listen to, let alone obey, whatever the pastor may preach especially if it is against their sin. I am beginning to believe some so-called Christians see church as just another place to go to on Sunday mornings because they have nothing else to do. They see church as the Christian ‘happy hour’ minus the alcohol. They come to ‘get drunk in the Spirit’ and then go home and sleep it off. Then when they wake up on Monday morning, they are back to square one; they no longer have the Power to victoriously bring them through the week as the devil does a rope-a-dope on them.”
“Oh, they drink the alcohol before they come,” Bishop Akron said with a chuckle. “I don’t know how many of my members’ breath reek with alcohol so much so that Wrigley’s spearmint gum cannot camouflage it.”
Prophet Malcolm broke into a laugh.
“Why bother coming if you know you are not going to listen and take heed?” Bishop Akron said.
“Like I said, they have nothing else to do on Sunday mornings at eleven o’clock—it is tradition. And some of them come on Wednesday nights not to pray but to play.”
“And some to prey. P-R-E-Y,” Bishop Akron said.
Prophet Malcolm laughed. “You said that right. I have had to break up and preach against some of the unmarried love birds in my church. They spend the whole eleven o’clock hour eyeing each other and shouting ‘Amen’ at the same time. And some of the women don’t say ‘Amen’, they say ‘A man.’”
“And they know when to say ‘Amen,’ too,” Bishop Akron added with a laugh.
“They sure do. I don’t mess too much with them if they are single cause I remember my courting days with Sadie. But those who are married and are giving another person they are not married to the lover’s eye or the lover’s glance, as I like to call it, I step in. I pull them aside separately either in person or over the phone and let them know that I see what is going on and that I want it stopped before it gets out of hand and leads to further sin. Some give me a hard time, but for the most part, they cooperate.”
“I especially see it among the teenagers in my church,” Bishop Akron said. “I just leave them alone.”
“As long as you don’t allow it to get out of hand. Just let them know you have one eye on the Bible and one eye on them,” Prophet Malcolm said.
Bishop Akron laughed.
“I say to parents before you get to wondering and fretting as to why your child shows no interest in church, check your Christianity? Are you being a living testimony in your home before them? Are you spending time in your private prayer closet at home? Are you having family devotions with your children? It’s time to stop playing church!”
“Amen. And with that I’ll say good night,” Bishop Akron said.
Bishop Akron rested his chin on the back of his hand pondering their conversation. He could identify with what Prophet Malcolm was saying, but he loved the praises of his members more than he loved the praises of God. He had learned quite early in his ministry not to rock the boat lest it capsize. As for my sins, my struggles, well, we’ll see about that.