Pastor Michael J.T Fisher
Church: Greater Zion Church Family
Artist Name: J. Kingdom
Church contact: (310) 639-5535 • greaterzionchurchfamily.net
Q: What has been the response of the Parish Without Knowledge Tour?
A: The tour is an initiative that goes to various high schools consisting of 45 minutes of entertainment, inspirational messages and uplifting gospel music from various local artists that are coming up the ranks. And it has gotten a great response. The kids love it. A lot of schools want us to come and minister to their students because they have seen the results of our past assemblies and how the statistics have already shown that when we’ve left, there has been a decrease in fighting, as well as a desire from the young people to participate in P.E. and sports activities.
And it’s catching on. Earlier this year when we started touring we did five schools and so far we already have about eight to ten schools booked for the beginning of the school year.
Q: What is the response from the students? What is the indication that you’re changing lives?
A: They stay in touch with us through Twitter and Facebook. From the feedback we get from them on those social networks is that they’ve become more aware of their responsibility to govern themselves accordingly, whether it’s by healthy eating, breaking up a fight, not participating in the fight, speaking well of themselves and not allowing anybody to tear them down—and that all speaks to the self esteem component. We’re also starting to see a change even in how they tweet and their Facebook posts because they feel inspired.
Q: What is happening at the present with the program?
A: We’re linking up with other organizations that express our same sentiments such as healthy eating as well as anti-bullying and anti-violence. We’re trying to confirm speakers to come in and talk to the young people in between our performances. We’re also waiting for the schools to get settled in for their new semester and we’ll be ready to kick off the tour.
Q: What happened when you got the call to preach? What were you doing?
A: When I got the call I was 16. I answered it when I was 18. When I was called to preach, it’s so funny. The night I said yes to the Lord I was just going to church to please my father and afterwards I was supposed to go out to the club, so that kind of tells you where I was in my life. At that moment I was like any other senior in high school that just had graduated and starting college. I was clubbing, I was smoking; I was partying. I didn’t really see the value in being disciplined. I was ready to be rebellious. I felt like I had been a good boy long enough. Then the Lord snatched me up and humbled me. I said yes to him and I’ve been trying to reach other young men and other young women from that day forward that are probably in the same place now that I was in.
Q: Tell us the different between you and your father’s preaching style?
A: There’s no difference really. For his time and age that he was preaching in, he was just as radical as I am now. He had many young members and they felt he was out of the box because he had a piano player and some bongo drums in the sanctuary. And people think I’m out of the box because we rap and we dance in our church. But if you compare both ministries and align it with the day and the culture, he was just as radical as I am and his message was just as straightforward and cutthroat as mine is.
Q: What have been the challenges?
A: Trying to overlook the resistance that I get from religion has probably been the greatest challenge. Doing God’s work is not a challenge because he empowers you. The reaping of the harvest is not a challenge because God prepares you for that. But looking around and hearing some of the negative commentary from other colleagues or people who are stuck in tradition—battling that has been the greatest challenge for me as a pastor.
When I was younger, it used to irritate me, it got on my nerves and discouraged me, but now I just take it as fuel. They just don’t understand. God has not shown it to them. He’s not revealed it to them. And I can’t be upset with them because they don’t have the revelation. All I can do is just do whatever it is God’s calling me to do and when they see the results, they’ll attribute it to God’s glory.
Q: How challenging is it being a young pastor in Los Angeles?
A: Being a young pastor in L.A. is extremely challenging because you have the adults feeling like you haven’t lived long enough to tell anybody anything. You have the young people feeling that because you’re so young they don’t have that reverence for the position you hold. They kind of see you as a friend sometimes and that can be a challenge. And then you’re young yourself—you’re still battling and overcoming as you teach and preach deliverance to other people.
Q: The church is busting at the seams, has space become an issue?
A: Space is a huge issue. We’ve definitely maximized our potential there at the property we’re currently at in Wilmington and El Segundo. We’re holding three services on Sunday and we hold two Bible studies on Wednesday and during the week it’s chaos because between the choir, praise dancers, rap ministry, the staff meetings and the children—there’s just no space at all. Currently on roll we have 4,500 members. On a average Sunday we see 1,800 to 2,000 members 60 percent of our congregation is 35 and under. It’s great, especially for Compton.
Q: What’s going on now with Voices of Destiny and your solo career?
A: I know everyone is waiting for Voices of Destiny to come out with an album but they’re concentration right now is fulfilling their own individual purpose that God has given them. I remember telling a lot of people when we won How Sweet The Sound in 2010 that I wanted them to participate in it so they can take that collective victory to motivate them individually. Well, two years later they’ve done just that. They’ve taken that testimony of winning and applying it their individual lives. They’re still a choir and they do plan on coming out with an album in 2013.
As far as my personal career, J. Kingdom is doing great. Currently, the single out right now “Champion” is climbing the YouTube charts. Just after three days of debuting it has 186,000 views. I plan on riding that wave until God says to do something different.