Pastor speaks about the spirit of God

caines | 6/20/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Meeting the needs of the people Oftentimes when a person walks into the doors of a church, they have questions, according to Joe C. Johnson, 71, who has pastored Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church for 36 years. If you stay in the spirit, God will answer the questions, he said. Over the past three and a half decades that he has led Greater Ebenezer, many things have changed, but the pastors goals to assist the people have not. You dont do church to have a good time, you do church to try to meet the needs of the people, he said. According to Johnson, church members and visitors should not leave the church burdensome and the only way to help the people is by allowing the spirit of God to take control. A lot of times we are so program-focused and we have a set agenda that we dont give God the time to operate so we can meet the needs of the people, Johnson said. Worship ought to not be a predictable pattern. The spirit ought to come in and change some things. He and the churchs ushers, which he calls the spiritual attendants, makes sure everyone is involved, engaged and giving God their best. It should be a life-enriching experience, Johnson said. His mission is to help people realize the blessings of God and to help them grow holistically. The needs of the people One of the churchs top priorities is reaching young men between 18-30. He plans on starting programs for young men soon. They have a special need, Johnson said. We just have to make sure that we do much more and get them out of the street. Johnson is not only a caring pastor, but he may also be described as fun-loving and approachable. He said he likes to meet people and connect with them. I want to [continue to] present myself in such a way that they know that they could talk to me, Johnson said. If people cant approach you, then you cant really minister to them. Over the summer, Johnson encourages church members to take vacations and travel with their families. Johnson has been married to Emma Inez for 47 years. He has three children and four grandsons. He plans on spending time with his grandsons during his summer vacation. Johnson encourages family time because the church is no stronger than their families. If you have weak families, then youre going to have a weak church, he said. Although he enjoys connecting with his members and having a good time, he can also be described as a no-nonsense kind of pastor. Johnson said he does not sugarcoat the word of God. My intent is not to give them a false sense of hope, but to help people, he said. He understands that the past few years have been very hard for his members because of the economic downturn. Therefore, he assures them that this too shall pass. God will always meet your needs, Johnson said. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com