Far too many people, especially young people, are being turned off by Christianity because too many preachers are making it seem like they have to live like a nun or monk to be a true Christian. Before you listen to what a preacher has to say about how to live a true Christian life, begin to read your bible for yourself. There are a number of translations of the bible available for you—pick the translation or translations that work for you. Don’t simply read your bible but study it. Purchase biblical study aids that will enrich your study and give you deeper understandings of God’s word. Read and study your bible for yourself!
Now, I’m not suggesting at all that you should not go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God. You should go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God to accompany your reading and studying of the bible. Just don’t let the teaching and preaching the man of God does be your only engagement with the bible. In fact, God commands each person to study His word to “show thyself approved.”
Many young people feel like being a true Christian is simply too difficult because preachers make it seem almost like they cannot do anything, especially anything that’s fun. I want to let young people know that you can have fun and still be a true Christian. Of course, there are clear things that the bible point out that you cannot do, but there is so much more that you can do while you enjoy a personal relationship with God.
Although many preachers believe that it’s a sin to listen to non-Gospel music, such as rap and pop music, I want you to challenge them to give you some substantive teaching about how this is a sin. Don’t simply let them rap one, two, or three scriptures to you—challenge them to give you some true and deep biblical teaching about this subject. What you will discover is they will not be able to offer you much bible-based teaching about this subject. However, I want you to be on high alert for them to attempt to present their personal opinions and preferences as if they are grounded in the scriptures and biblical principles. You don’t want to be living your life based on someone’s opinions—live your life based on what God’s word truly says. Don’t let preachers shame you out of listening to non-Gospel music by telling you that non-Gospel music is “the Devil’s music.” “The Devil’s music”? Really? Some Gospel songs can be far more depressing and damaging than many non-Gospel songs.
When preachers tell you that you cannot go to the movies, I want you to challenge them on this subject in the same way I have discussed about challenging them on their opposition to you listening to non-Gospel music. You can be a true Christian and go to the movies.
Now, if you do want to be a nun or monk, I applaud you for wanting to live a life of this type. However, for those who don’t want to be a nun or monk, I want you to know that you can live a victorious and saved life in this present world and have tons of fun! You don’t have to be a “bible thumper” to go to Heaven and you don’t have to talk about God every second in order to make it into Heaven.
Don’t miss out on the full life that you can be living simply because you failed to read and study your bible and only listened to what your pastor had to say about the bible. At the end of the day, your pastors are men of God but they are still human beings, and, as we all know, all human beings are not perfect and do make mistakes. Being a Christian means that you are a personal follower of Christ. Your pastor cannot live your walk with God for you—you have to live your walk with Christ for yourself.
In no way should this article be perceived as an attack on any preacher, but it’s more of a call for people to realize that they need to experience God for themselves, and one of the most intimate and meaningful ways to experience God for yourself is to read and study His word for yourself.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects a person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this blog. The choice this month was too simple. When you think about the month of November as a time to reflect on who and what you have to be thankful for, one of the most important people who I have to be thankful for is my pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson. This man is the epitome of what a holy and righteous man of God is and should be. His love for helping hurting people “unsettles, unnerves, and unhouses” us and lets us know that it is not about our own selfish interests, but it’s about a spirit of compassion for loving and giving to others. In a time when we have questions about the salvation and leadership of certain clergymen, Bishop Fortson is one man we don’t have any questions about. His leadership is simply impeccable. At some churches, the preachers don’t have time to talk to you and even pray for you personally. Bishop Fortson always takes time to pray for you and talk to you.
While many saved and unsaved people criticize preachers about always wanting money, Bishop Fortson is not interested in getting your money. He is interested in how to get you into Heaven and into showing you how you can live a victorious and prosperous life in this present world. Soul winning is Bishop’s top priority—not money! This is why the Lord has blessed him so richly and thoroughly.
I very much appreciate Bishop’s prayers and love. Even while I’m about 15 hours away from him, he’s always praying for me. I appreciate that so deeply. Some preachers are “so deep” that you cannot talk to them, but this is not true about Bishop. He’s a person you can talk to like anyone else. He’s going to tell you what the bible says and what God spoke to him about your life, so don’t get mad when he tells you just like it is. When he tells you just like it is, he does it with love. You should appreciate his candor. We have enough preachers today who are not transparent, but we can be thankful that Bishop Paul L. Fortson is one preacher who is not going to hide anything from you.
This man of God has fed the homeless and given them shelter. We need more selfless people like him in the world. We also need more selfless preachers like him.
When it comes to how he teaches and preaches, he is going to tell you what God said without sugarcoating it. He teaches the bible in a way that adds nothing to it and takes nothing from it.
I could really go on and on about this great man of God, but time and space will not allow me. One day, I’m going to write a book about Bishop Fortson so that it will be a blessing to his members and to the world. The world needs to hear about and learn from this great man of God.
I encourage you to visit Bishop Paul L. Fortson and his lovely wife, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson, at Paradise Church of God in Christ at 4234 Hendrix Drive in Forest Park, Georgia. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about times and days of church services, and/or you can leave a comment on this blog for more information about church services and directions.
Again, it is with great pleasure that I name Bishop Paul L. Fortson as The Revolutionary Paideia November 2010 Person of the Month. Bishop, thank you for your love, service, commitment, leadership, and example. Revolutionary Paideia highly endorses Bishop Paul L. Fortson. God bless Bishop Paul L. Fortson, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson, and family!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison