Word Tabernacle Church Office of the Senior Pastor James David Gailliard State of the Church Report, Saturday, August 11, 2018
I greet each of you today in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Grace and peace be multiplied to each of you through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
In Machiavelli's The Prince, he wrote: "It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from the fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them."
This adequately sums up the future we face as believers in Jesus and as members of Word Tabernacle Church; living out our faith in a rural Eastern North Carolina community in need of transformation, but lacking a real desire for it.
It is comforting however to know we are in good company. Allow me to share some quotes from even the brightest leaders who can be misled into thinking as a society, we have gone as far as we can go:
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”- Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents, 1899
“The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.” -a President of Michigan Savings Bank advising against investing in Ford Motor Co., 1903
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” -Thomas Watson, President of IBM, 1943
“Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” -Daryl F. Zanuck, Head of 20th Century Fox, 1946
“You ain't going nowhere son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”-Grand Ole Opry's Jim Denny to Elvis Presley, 1954
“There is no need for any individual to have a computer in their home.”-Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
Or my personal favorite, “Perhaps your church needs to get credit counseling first. We can recommend someone in Durham.” –Executive, Southern Bank to Pastor James D. Gailliard, 2014
Four years after purchasing a former Home Depot and thirteen years after organizing our church, I am still convinced our best days, greatest victories, and most significant impact is still to be accomplished. For this reason, we have continued with renovation, announced an aggressive Campaign to Thrive, and re-structured operations and ministry.
In preparation for this report, I reflected upon the frequency of my prayer requests by identifying the primary requests I have made most frequently to God. One of those requests is simply, “Lord help me to store it, say it, and show it that your people will be inspired and not manipulated to truly get it.” The question is probably, “What is the “it”? The “it” is the vision of our being; called by God to drive culture, impact communities, and lead cities. This requires an anointing like the sons of Issachar. In First Chronicles 12:32 we are told, “of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command;”
The sons of Issachar understood chronological time, but they also understood spiritual and political time.
The sons of Issachar could discern what God was doing and when He was doing it.
They knew when one move of God was ending and when another was beginning.
They could discern when a leader was falling and when another was rising.
They could even tell you who the next leader should be. They knew who to follow and when to follow him or her.
Furthermore, the sons of Issachar also excelled in knowledge of God’s law. They were full of wisdom. In fact, God chose the sons of Issachar as one of the three tribes to go out in front of Israel whenever the nation moved. Judah (the praising people) went first; then Issachar (the wise and discerning ones); and lastly Zebulun (the financiers). The sons of Issachar were so sharp and spiritually astute that the whole nation depended on them to know what they should do and when they should do it.
Here are two examples of how astute the sons of Issachar were:
They supported a female ruler when it may not have been popular. In the times when Israel was governed by judges and before it had kings (around 1100 BC or earlier according to some scholars), a woman rose up to judge the land. Her name was Deborah. Although women did have rights in Israel, it was still unusual for a woman to sit in authority over the nation. Nevertheless, God was with Deborah. He placed her in authority and the sons of Issachar knew it. Therefore, they sided with Deborah and went out to battle under her leadership.
They supported King David before he became king (when he was NOT popular with King Saul, who was in power at the time). Before King David (the 2nd king of Israel) began to reign, warriors from the 12 tribes started gathering to him. All the tribes were split in their support of David except for one tribe – Issachar. Why did all Issachar support David? They knew that God had called him to become king and they knew that his time had come. They could discern the changing of the times.
Matthew Henry’s commentary described the tribe of Issachar in this way, “They were men of great skill above any of their neighbours, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. They understood the natural times, could discern the face of the sky, were weather-wise, could advise their neighbours in the proper times for ploughing, sowing, reaping, etc. Or the ceremonial times, the times appointed for the solemn feasts; therefore they are said to call the people to the mountain (Deuteronomy 33:19 ), for almanacs were not then so common as now. Or, rather, the political times; they understood public affairs, the temper of the nation, and the tendencies of the present events. Those of that tribe were greatly intent on public affairs, had good intelligence from abroad and made a good use of it. They knew what Israel ought to do: from their observation and experience they learned both their own and others’ duty and interest. In this critical juncture they knew Israel ought to make David king. It was not only expedient, but necessary; the present posture of affairs called for it. They were men of great interests; for all their brethren were at their commandment.”
I can’t help but to reflect where our nation would be had people in the past not held on to their convictions and pressed their way past public criticism, apathy, and doubt to make decisions with a spirit of discernment and full understanding of their times.
I believe we are powerful rather than powerless. I believe we have been given great favor, opportunity and resources by God to be the change agents necessary for our community and region to thrive holistically. This is in fact, the history of our nation and the history of the church.
What if, at the height of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt looked out on America and said, “I see one- third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished ... and there’s nothing we can do”? There’d be no Social Security — and today, 22 million Americans would be in poverty.
What if John F. Kennedy saw Russia getting ready to point nuclear missiles at us from Cuba and said, “There’s nothing we can do”?
What if Lyndon Johnson had said, “I know we say all men are created equal, but there’s nothing we can do”? There’d be no Civil Rights Act. No Voting Rights Act.
What if Barack Obama had said, “I know millions of Americans don’t have health coverage ... I know we’re mired in two seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ... I know we’re in the worst recession since the Great Depression, but can we change things? No. We Can’t.”
The history of our nation is one of visionaries who could see past the current state and discern the times and where the nation or the community should be.
We must never forget the deep historical roots of the church in general and specifically, the black church. Dating back to the 1517 publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses”, The Protestant Reformation was a 16th century religious, intellectual, cultural, AND political upheaval that was so impactful, it splintered the Catholic Church of Europe. God had placed in the hands of believers a mandate to set structures and beliefs in place that would define an entire continent. Here’s the tweetable version – “Our history proves we have influence over a continent and yet we lack the conviction to impact a community.” May we never forget, The Protestant Reformation was not only an argument for religious redistribution, but also for political. Were it not for The Protestant Reformation, much of the intellectual and cultural flourishing we now enjoy would not be present – the music of Bach, the university systems, capitalism, and The Protestant Church.
We, as a church must be the next generation of reformers. We must be the next generation of the sons of Issachar. We must be the next generation of men and women that believe, “We Can!” Are we willing to live for what we believe? Are we willing to give for what we believe? Are we willing to serve and sacrifice for what we believe? We are the by-products of courageous and sacrificial men and women who had been indwelled by the Holy Spirit and equipped to proclaim light to darkness.
Campaign to Thrive is our God-given dream, vision, and desire to see men and women flourish in faith, family, fitness, and finances. This is not new. That is the lie and the deception of the enemy. Word Tabernacle Church is not new. What we believe is not new. What we teach is not new. It is old. It is so old that it is ancient. It is the doctrine of the early church fathers, of the martyrs, and of the Apostles. It is the doctrine of Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, Jarena Lee, and Martin Luther King Jr. It is the doctrine of He who was present and active in creation, Jesus Christ who we are told was the word made flesh. In other words, it is a doctrine so old that before it was on paper, it was made flesh and before it was made flesh, it existed as spirit.
One of the most telling questions any of us could answer is, “What keeps you up at night?” I sit up at night reflecting upon the statistics around salvation/church membership, health, family, employment, education, and housing. I cry over the plight of many of the people I pastor and certainly over many of the residents in our community. I find myself asking God what happened to the time in our community when black preachers were most influential, as W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about in The Souls of Black Folk, “the most unique personality developed by the Negro on American soil," a man who "found his function as the healer of the sick, the interpreter of the Unknown, the comforter of the sorrowing, the supernatural avenger of wrong, and the one who rudely, but picturesquely expressed the longing, disappointment, and resentment of a stolen and oppressed people."
Some argue that “the church is dead”; that it has lost its prophetic and progressive voice; and its capacity to mobilize for reform on the local and national stage. Others argue the church is very much alive and points to the results of the 2008 Pew Religious Landscape Survey which shows African Americans are more likely than any other ethnic or racial group to report a formal religious affiliation. Even those who count themselves "unaffiliated" describe themselves as "religiously unaffiliated."
I believe in the Pastoral, prophetic, and progressive voice of the church. I believe in the people in our church. I believe we are one decision away from radically changing the spiritual, cultural, social, political, and financial landscape of our region. There have been too many advances, successes, and enhancements made to begin to enumerate them in this report.
I am asking each person who will to do the following:
Pray for the church, the vision, and our community during your daily devotional time.
Take seriously your growth as a Christian with regular church and Bible Study attendance and participation.
Participate in a “Thrive Group”.
Serve in ministry.
Generously support the church and vision with your finances.
Commit to your physical, mental, and dental health.
Become more financially stable and secure.
Commit to a dedicated family time.
Speak well of the church in general and your church in particular.
Share your faith and commit to leading one person to Christ.
Participate in the Voter Information Project. Registration + Education + Participation = Alteration
Thank you for your faithfulness. I celebrate where God has brought us from and wake up each day with zeal and excitement over where He is taking us.
James D. Gailliard