Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church Podcast. Today Apostle John A Bennett is joining us from the Church of the Apostolic Revival International in Durham, North Carolina. Apostle Bennett, it’s great to have you today.
A pleasure to be here.
Apostle Bennett, you have a lot going on at the church of the Apostolic Revival International. Would you give us just a bird’s eye view of what’s going on at the church and what your position is there?
Quite a few things are going on. A majority of our members are millennial aged persons, we have a handful of middle age persons, and a smaller amount of baby boomers downwards. However, we deal with a lot of gang prevention programs out of the Initiative Church. We do a lot of inner city issues, such as gang prevention, young mother’s programs, a young father’s program, parenting programs. We do things, we lead such as feeding the homeless, the hungry, providing clothes for those without clothes, and trying to get people socially situated in that area.
The thing you started with at the very beginning, you said that the majority of your members are millennials, which took me off guard a little bit because a lot of churches are trying really hard to get millennials in the door. And yet, that’s the majority of your membership.
It is, it is a very extensive conversation in this time, and I constantly come across things on the internet, in the paper, and of course within the to society asking, “How do we get millenials in our church?” In actuality, millennials are in the end of church. I don’t think that they’re leaving the church, some of them. A great deal of him are born in the church. And so, however, I started our ministry at the age pf 23, and I have six children, all of them are millennials. And they have a great deal of friends. A lot of the persons that are in our ministry have quite a few children, young people growing up into adults. And so, beyond those that are birthed in the church, or if they have friends that they also connect it to, they also bring to the church, as well.
Maybe you don’t have a simple answer to this, but I know it’s got to be in the minds of a lot of the ministers listening. What do you think you’re doing that is keeping the millennials there in your church or attracting them?
Well, I think one of the things that we do try to give some attention to is changing in methods. A lot of times people believe that when you change your method that your message has changed. The message, of course, is the same. However, the methodology is a method that we use to draw millennials and millennials today, they’re very Socratic. They are pragmatic. They don’t necessarily do what’s right, but they’ll do what works. And we try to not form our ministry from a pragmatic perspective, because we believe in doing what’s right we also believe that doing what’s right actually works. But I do realize the kind of generation that we’re dealing with. And so, we try to at least understand where their generation is, the concept of that generation, take the time to listen to that generation. And we develop a spirit of acceptance, even if you disagree, because that generation they more wanna be accepted and they feel that you really accept them, that there is real genuine love, and that you’re transparent in your message and your conversion with them. Then that’s one of the great things that that generation looks for.
I really appreciate what you said about having a spirit of acceptance, even if you disagree. Most of the conversation around this I hear ends up being pretty negative towards the millennial perspective and thinking they don’t believe in absolute truth and trying to convince them of somebody’s more traditional ways of looking at the world. So, I appreciate that freedom you give there to have some people who might disagree, but you accept them regardless.
Yes, most definitely. You have a right. Even the Lord said, “Whoever, we’ll let them come. It wasn’t a force, it was my choice.” And so, you have to, the church have to lead it where you share the word of God with people, and you leave the choice to the person and you still love them. Because that’s what Christians do. Christians are supposed to love one another and love God, but also love the world that He gave His only begotten son. He loved the whole world regardless to what their position was or is, what they’re doing or what they’re not doing. God put the sins in the whole world, and the church must keep that at the center of they’re understanding when they’re reaching out to different generations, that we should love and accept everybody.
As you’ve hinted at, the church of the Apostolic Revival International has a lot going on. So, I’d like to know a little more about how the church is structured and what are some of the more official programs that you run, and what are you directly involved in at the church on a day to day basis?
Okay, well, our church is composed of boards and auxiliaries. The boards are several pastors, elders, ministers, deacons, missionaries, or delegated authority responsibilities to maintain it under the vision of the church. And they oversee various ministries, and see to it that they all are connected to the vision of the church. They train and equip others to do more of what they do. And the auxiliaries are composed a ushers, youth ministers, single ministries, elderly ministries, music ministries, whole missions and full missions, and they’re responsible for things like the president elderly ministries, as well as server logged community outreach missions. They see the hungry and reach out to the unfortunate on a weekly basis or throughout the week, and gauge and gain prevention programs, unwedded mother programs, and the like. I’m responsible, however, for imparting wisdom, knowledge, and getting direction to those that spearhead those boards and auxiliaries. My role and responsibility on an average week is to teach and preach the gospel, strengthen those in leadership, pour into their lives and families as they minister to the rest of the congregation and abroad. And that would be considered, at this present time, the senior pastor of this congregation.
You mentioned how important it is for these board and auxiliaries to keep in mind the vision of the church. What is the vision of your church?
Well, the vision of the church is threefold, and because man is a trichotomy we try to minister to every part of the body, soul, and spirit. So, the spiritual part is, a lot of times the church want to be more spiritual and ignore the spiritual and physical beings. And so, we believe and we teach health and w we teach exercise and taking care of your body, so forth and on. And money management, things that you know you need as a foundation to make it in a person’s daily life. Of course, we teach the word of God for the spirit man, the spiritual man, and also body, soul, and spirit. The soulish man, of course, the soul is composed of intellect, reasoning, consciousness, imagination, and affection. And so, those things have to be fed, intellect have to be fed. The reasoning have to be shared. We try to see to it that we minister from a threefold perspective.
That’s great. With all the leaders of these boards and auxiliaries, what are some of the administrative challenges you face as the leader of those people in communication, or maybe in some of the programming?
It was clear to me observing others in the senior pastor that this calling will not be free of issues. So, I quickly discovered that some leaders have utopian concepts of ministry, however, over the years I’ve learnt not to look at issues as problems. I really considered every issue as a challenge and deal with them according. So, some of the administrative challenges that are safe is taking the responsibility of constantly galvanizing leadership, constantly communicating instructions and changes as it relates to the vision of the house. Dealing immensely with incompetence, accountability. As a beautician, you know, trimming split hairs for the continued growth of the ministry. Observing the damages of micromanagement more submitting to emplace macromanagement. Creating and maintaining a golly atmosphere that demands complete reverence for God and respect for one another, regardless of their position, titles, or robes. And I don’t only do this locally. I do it abroad at several other churches on top of that.
You talked about how important communication is, how do you communicate with these people both locally, and you said you’ve got other churches that you’re also overseeing? How do you make sure that communication is staying strong?
One of the things that we have, we have a fellowship every Sunday. There is a very powerful fellowship we play and choose a place going to a city, and the churches come together and the program it set out for the first hour to hour and 15 minutes. I’ll come out and lecture and share some of the challenges that the church will station all together and bringing out points and concepts of how we could be a part of the solution. And then we’ll hear from one of the pastors, and then they will share a lot of part of that service. And we do that every Sunday. On top of that, we have server conferences that we also have in our church, leadership conference referred to Powerful Ministry Conference, which we just. Was an awesome time. And a lot of our leaders and pastors, of course, weren’t in attendance at that conference. They were able to be trusted from other ministry giftings, other pastors, and other apostles that came in and shared with us, to pour into us so we’re in tune with what God is doing in this age. I have a very strong relationship with the pastors that I cover, and with the leaders that I cover, a very, very strong relationship. Relationship really is the key to that.
Now, with how important your vision is and how many of these pastors that you’re mentoring and pouring into, what do you do to make sure that you are staying rooted and strong and energetic for the challenge ahead of you?
Well, the first thing that I observe, as far as myself, I observe to learn more about my role and the Bible, seeking Biblical answers and strategies. To not only broaden my concept and give specifics to directions, but is used as a means to enlighten others, to enlighten others of God’s structure first. I also have several senior pastors that well endowed with wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and experience, and they have availed themselves to share and partly equip me to retire high and deeper depths in my calling. So, I have my problems in meeting with them. The pastors that I deal with there are approximately 15 pastors I think at this time and a host of elders and ministers that we deal with, and they’re very, very submitted, very respectful and very engaged. So, the ones in are local assemblies, because there are three times out the week, Sunday in two services, Wednesday in Bible teaching, and then on Friday night for the youth department. And they’re very engaged in the vision of the church, the concept of what we’re trying to put out and convey to the world. So, we spend time, a lot of time, in prayer. That’s one of the things that we kinda prepare our minds in the meditation, and then everyone is responsible actually for knowing the vision actually for themselves so that it’s not one person’s concept. If anything happened to me, our leader can carry. And so, the thing is that the main thing that I emphasized is to them is that I’m not raising followers, I am raising leaders. I am teaching you to lead. So, we produce more of what we are, then much more can get done.
That’s a really important distinction, not raising followers, but raising leaders.
Now, many of the people who listen to this podcast are coming from more of the really large suburban churches. And so, I wanna know from your perspective in perhaps working with some of these churches before and the huge difference between the suburbs and the inner city, I would just like to hear some of your reflections on any kind of work you’ve done with the suburban churches. If you have anything you would like to say to the ministers at those churches.
Well, the first thing is you have to remember the one who called you and the nature of your call. You wanna remember what and who you call to. And I would say that as ministers, we should not make full proof of the church. Only Jesus builds His church, but we should make full proof of our ministry. And while we’re making full proof of our ministry God will take care of His church. The Bible says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” And remember, you can’t oversee who you don’t see, but those you you see you can oversee or you can see over rapids. Then I would encourage those to get a real edifying pastors that know how to build and encourage you to hold to God’s hand, even with people let go of yours. And remember not everybody is in this thing, some for reason, some for a season. But God has a remedy that will stick through with you until the vision comes to fruition. The Bible says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He would direct your path.” That’s what I would say to encourage those pastors in suburban areas and even if they’re listening from the inner city areas, I would encourage them because that is a standard encouragement.
Now, I have to ask Pastor Bennett, how old are you?
I just turned 50.
You just turned 50. And how many years have you been in the ministry?
Well, I’ve been preaching since the age of 16.
Okay, so you’ve been at this and in this world for a long time.
Well, of course, there is a growth because I was a teenager when I entered into the ministry, and I thank the Lord that both my pastor and my parents understood that we don’t wanna take his childhood from him. So, there’s level of growth, even though I was preaching at 16, they were still a level of growth and maturation that had to take place. I started pastoring at the age 23, and that as it stands now the passion has been for 25 years.
So, if you could sit down with a group of young people between the ages of 16 and 23, who had this passion and this calling, what would you wanna say to them?
Well, I would just share my experience with them. I would tell them that I was pretty much raised in a small church in the inner city of Washington DC, had the opportunity from a child to watch and cling from other pastors. I think that’s important that you want cling to those who are doing in ministry what you desire, watch that he was a hard working, innovative individual. Illustrated the humility. He shall be the epitome of humility, show great interest in souls, he took the time to share his faith with others and preached and taught and monthly shared his faith with seniors and youth. And I watched this. I watched this as a child. I observed him, praying to him, counseling them, marrying the single, burying their loved ones, feeding the homeless. It was these labors of love for the welfare of others that actually inspired a creator in me in my early teenage years to do some of the same things. I came back to the town. I attended college and started with a small group to minister with the same kind of love of concern and tenacity. And they’re continuing to those days, so those that are between the ages of 16 and 23, just learn as much as you can, get as much as you can, can as much as you get, and the time will come when you have to open the can and use what you have canned.
Wow. That’s wonderful. Pastor Bennett, thank you so much for being on the podcast with us today.
Thank you so much. Thank you for allowing me.