Grace & Truth

The Rev. Emanuel Webb Hoggard

I really don’t like to hear people’s grievances with other churches.

I’ve heard every variation of comment. That church is too dark. They are too loud. All he does is yell. All she does is teach. All of them are so shallow. I’m not too fond of big churches. There is hardly anyone at that church. They are just in each other’s business, a bunch of busybodies. They are light on the Word. That church doesn’t have any Word. They just talk about what’s in the newspaper or on Facebook. I’m from the old school, and I don’t like these relevant churches.

All I need is my Bible and my hymnal, so why do I need to read off the wall. He only knows how to sing those old songs. This church never sings any old songs.

What does it have to do with anything? Most of our issues with churches are wrapped up in personality and preference and very rarely with Spirit that unifies us. The Spirit of God fell on the early church, and they began telling everyone about Jesus.

At the end of Acts 2, we see that everyone met regularly at the Temple and in each other’s homes. They committed themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship. They ate together and shared with one another if any needs presented themselves. They fulfilled the mission of Jesus. And, in response, God showed up in mighty ways and added souls to their number every day. The church was on the move.

Jesus, before he went to heaven, asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Poor guy didn’t have Google or Twitter, so He wanted to know the publicity about his ministry.

Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ! The son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “You are right, Peter, and on this understanding, I will build my church.”

Jesus is the thing that unifies us. Jesus is the center of our churches, gatherings, assemblies and congregations. When we allow manmade doctrine, buildings, music or personality to be our unifying factor, we are sure to fail, but when Jesus is our ultimate and only focus, the gates of death and hell melt right over before us. Satan cannot stand against Christ’s church unified in Spirit and Truth.

So, let us be people who stop focusing on what we don’t like about our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us be people who embrace those utterly different from us and show them what genuine care looks like. Let us bless those around us every chance we can. Can we display the power of God through miracles and the power of love?

The world needs us to put our preferences aside and place our perfect Savior back in proper perspective. Let’s focus on Jesus and being filled with His Spirit again, and who knows, our perfect little churches might have those needing salvation added to us every single day, just like the very first day of the church.

Pastor Emanuel Webb Hoggard is Pastor at Askewville Assembly of God. He can be reached via email at

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at