Bishop Dale Bronner speaks to City News about manhood, the marketplace and miracles.
Bishop Dale Bronner is the founder and senior pastor of Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral. He visited City Harvest Church for the second time over the weekend of June 24 to 26, preaching at a Men’s Meeting as well as CHC’s weekend services on Saturday and Sunday. In this interview with City News, he speaks about men and mentoring, explains how believers should seek their passions, and shares a little more about the “Rapidly Approaching Miracle” he has foreseen for CHC.
City News: Bishop Bronner, thank you for two very powerful and encouraging messages this past weekend. Could you tell us more about that “Rapidly Approaching Miracle” that you see for City Harvest Church?
Bishop Dale Bronner: I really do see that God has a Rapidly Approaching Miracle for the house (CHC). Sometimes that miracle is in resources, sometimes that miracle is in the favor of God that comes. Sometimes it is in healing. Sometimes the miracle is a strengthening of God for things that have been depleted out of the longevity of trial. The more the trial goes on, it pulls things out of you, and it classifies you and puts you in a position where you need the miracle power of God. I do see miracles on their way to this house.
You preached on Saturday (June 25) about brokenness and on Sunday (June 26) about pivot points. You also said that you wouldn’t trust a man to minister to you who hadn’t been through something. Could you share with us a personal experience of a pivot point?
Some of my biggest mentors have helped me the most when they have shared the vulnerable places in their lives where they have failed. All of us stand in the need of grace, mercy and forgiveness. It is in those moments that I have really, really connected with people that I have admired and respected—we have a way of putting people on a pedestal, but when they share their humanity…
I’ve been through a dry spell in my own spiritual life where it was difficult for me to pray (chuckles) and I had to push through it. I’ve heard mentors of mine share their experience, saying that it was difficult for them to pray. If I hadn’t heard that, I would have thought something was wrong with me, and that maybe I just wasn’t spiritual enough.
I’ve learned that you connect more with the hearts of people through sharing your failures than you do successes, because everybody at some point is going to know failure. Every child, as they’re learning to walk, is going to fall. That’s not the time to criticize the child and make them feel condemned and afraid about ever getting up and trying to walk again, because if that were the case, we would never walk.
It’s from those who walked before me who have told me in the candidness and honesty of their own experience that, as they walked, or were learning to walk, they fell. And not just one time – they fell again and again and again. God is not merely the God of the second chance – He’s the God of another chance. That’s the message of grace, restoration and redemption the world needs.
You also said that when somebody fails, you’re not there to criticize. But you’re a businessman as well, so how do you balance forgiveness with being shrewd?
It’s different—the heart of a pastor is redemptive. For example, I’ve had employees that I’ve caught stealing. I forgave them, but as a businessman, I terminated them. It’s not wise to continue to keep a person in a trustworthy position with money when they’ve already been caught. They disqualified themselves. I don’t hold anything against them, but I don’t put them back into the same area of their weakness. It’s the same if they were a drug addict who had had a relapse—I wouldn’t then put them in a position where they had to work around drugs. Redemption and forgiveness are one thing; restoration back to that same place is a different thing.
In a church context, as a pastor, how do you restore and help your members to recover or rehabilitate?
By putting them in relationships with people of accountability. Trust is rebuilt in relationships with accountability where someone can observe the consistency of your behavior over a protracted period of time. That’s how the trust is gradually rebuilt.
Sometimes, they might need professional counselling or outside help. We’ve had people where we prayed for them, we laid hands on them, we spoke in tongues over them, and they were still messed up (laughs). We sent them to professional counselling, and sometimes they had to be medicated because their issues were far beyond what counselling alone could do. Something was messed up in their familial structure of their homes and the support systems that were there.
In the church, we love people, we counsel people, we create a routine in their life of a regular diet of the Word of God, Christian, Godly fellowship. Those systems of accountability help a person to be restored. That’s what we do as a church—we major in that.
You’ve spoken about family and relationships. Is it fair to say that your father and grandfather were some of your mentors growing up?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
I was raised in a Christian home; my mother and my father were saved. Even though they lived in the business world, their priorities were God first, family second and business third. They never violated that order.
I learned my love for God by watching that in my own parents’ lives. I learned tithing not from church; I learned it by watching my parents do it. They weren’t pastors, they were business people who loved God, so they taught it to me.
I came from a long line of preachers on my mother’s side of the family and a line of businessmen on my father’s side of the family. My ancestors are heroes to me—that was a tremendous undergirding in my life.
At service, you mentioned some of the lessons you’ve learned from them. What’s the number one thing you have taught your children?
I have taught my children the three principles that my father’s parents taught him. These are very simple—the profundity of life is always summarized in simplicity. His parents taught him: “Work hard, be honest, and keep good company.”
Keep good company; surround yourself with the right kind of people. Work hard, be honest, and surround yourself with the right kind of people. If they’re surrounding themselves with positive, progressive, Godly people, it sets the environment for them to do the right thing.
Those simple principles have become guiding principles in my family and I’ve taught those principles to my own children.
Many sons learn how to be fathers and leaders from their fathers. But these days, there are many broken homes and many people who have parents who might not have been the examples yours have. How do you teach them how to be fathers and leaders?
In Psalms 68, it says God takes the solitaire—the single person—and sets them in families. The Church is a family. In fact, the Church is a family of families. As the pastor, I’m the father of that family. I’m the under-Shepherd, the father; God is the Heavenly Father. I’m the spiritual father to that house.
They can learn certain things from a surrogate standpoint by watching me in the context of how I deal with the family of the church, and then having other fathers in the church who are mentors and surrogate fathers. That’s where they learn those relationships. It could be an uncle, it could be a coach, or it could be a teacher that fills that role. It could be a cousin, or an older brother that fills that role. We do have to use quite a bit of that because fatherlessness is so prevalent, not only in America, but in our world. They see that [fatherhood] modelled in the church.
Pastor Kong is a [spiritual] father to this house. He’s a [natural] father [i.e. he has a son]. There are young men that have grown up without a father and he might be the only person that they will ever know as a father. He has raised them up, trusted them with responsibility, empowered them and released them. The Church is a tremendous paradigm of a family. Sun becomes the mother to the church, and he’s [Pastor Kong] the father to the church—this is a family.
Speaking of Pastor Kong and Sun—you said you’ve known them for over 20 years. How did you meet them, and how did that relationship develop?
I met him through Dr [Edwin Louis] Cole—he was a joint mentor to the two of us—well over 20 years ago at one of the Lion’s Roar Conferences that was held in Dallas, Texas. I don’t even remember the year, it’s been so long. I’ve known Dr Cole and travelled to other nations with Dr Cole, and I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Kong there.
He (Kong) heard me speak, and he was intrigued by my vocabulary (long chuckle). We really hit it off from that encounter, and for having a heart for men and building a church on the solidarity of men, [believing] that “Manhood and Christ-likeness are synonymous.”
You spoke about men as leaders in the household, business and the church. How should men be better sons, disciples and students?
By taking what they have learned from the father and putting it into action.
The greatest test that a father has done well is that a son becomes a father. A father’s greatest testament is not that they produce sons. You reproduce after your own kind—I am a father, so I reproduce sons that become fathers in their own right. We teach to teach to teach.
Paul told Timothy, “The things you have received of me, commit thou to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2.
My greatest desire as a father is not that I just have sons and daughters, but that they produce [sons and daughters who become fathers and mothers]. The evidence that a father is a father is that he produced seed—if he has not produced seed then he hasn’t reproduced after his own kind. I’m not just a son, I’m a father, and fathers reproduce other fathers, and daughters that become mothers.
That’s why a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. The only way the children’s children get it is that he’s given it to a son or daughter who then teaches it to their children. That’s the thing that becomes the proof positive that a father has done a good job—seeing them [his children] teach it to others. You never know how well you’ve taught a lesson until you’ve seen them [your children] teach it to someone else.
So where’s the role of women in all of this? Do you have a message for the women as well?
(laughs) I normally let my wife give that because I’m not a woman and I’m not in touch with the feminine side of me.
The Scriptural example in the New Testament teaches “let the older women teach the younger ones and let the older men teach the younger men how to be men.” I think that women need to have womanhood and motherhood modelled for them and taught to them through the example of a Godly mother. The most impacting principle in their life is not taught through somebody sitting down and teaching them – it’s not taught, it’s caught.
If they didn’t get it in their home, they need to be around somebody who’s a natural mother and, watching that natural mother interact with her children, they can learn how a good mother exercises patience with her children, or patience with her husband, who is not who he is supposed to be, [learning] how this woman becomes a tower of spiritual strength, spiritually undergirding her husband’s life, helping him to become what he is not.
That takes a strong, spiritually mature mother. Women help to make men. There’s a saying we have in America, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” This is why women are the primary caregivers, particularly of younger children. God put the nurturing for young children on the bosom of women—the mothers—not men. Men in the Old Testament and Jewish history didn’t step into the active role of a parent until the child turned 13 and went through the bar mitzvah. That’s when the father then took on the role—right at the time when children become challenging to their mother. (chuckles)
Speaking of challenging… at the Men’s Meeting, you spoke about frustration and dissatisfaction becoming distractions; today you preached about them telling us where our passions lie and where to pivot to. How does a believer figure out which is which?
(laughs) He really has to rely on the Holy Spirit.
If he’s looking for his passion, he has to ask himself certain questions. We don’t get answers unless we ask questions. You go on a search for your passion and you have to ask yourself, “What would I do even if I was not getting paid to do it?” and they have to ask themselves the question, “What am I doing when time seems to just fly by?” That’s an indication of a passion in that person’s life. If they ask themselves the question, “What really pains me in this world?”, that’s an indication of their passion. Our passion is always connected to our purpose in this world and helps in our discovery of that purpose.
It’s a strange role that dissatisfaction plays: it turns us into certain things and comes from painful situations. [For example,] a young man who grew up without a father now develops a burden to help other fatherless kids, pouring into their lives, mentoring them. He finds his purpose out of this pain. He finds an incredible fulfilment and a joy out of the very thing that caused pain in his own life.
Could you share how you found your purpose? What was that journey like?
Mine was a little different. Mine found me. I was apprehended by that which I was trying to apprehend.
Mine was a calling that came from my great-grandfather, who was a preacher. His daddy was a preacher. His daddy [my great-great-great-grandfather] was a preacher [before him].
I heard the voice of God when I was seven years old. I didn’t choose it; it chose me. I stumbled into it—God arrested my heart from a very young age. He consumed my mind. I’d be in the house reading my Bible when all of my brothers were outside playing. I didn’t understand why God called a special devotion out of me, but it wasn’t a punishment to me. I had a hunger, He put a hunger in me that gave me a voracious appetite for spiritual things. It arrested me; I never pursued it—it pursued me. I just responded.
In closing, could you share with our readers what your prayer is for City Harvest Church?
I pray that City Harvest Church will be like the phoenix, which is a bird that rises out of the ashes. Out of its greatest trial, out of its greatest trouble, out of its greatest challenge, will arise such a glorious testament to the strength of will of a people who are undergirded by the blood of Jesus Christ, by the solidness of the Word of God. [I pray we continue] Seeing lives mature in Christ Jesus who have not been rocked by the storm, but have a solidness built in them by the principles of the Word of God.
I pray that City Harvest Church will be a testament that says, “Something happened, but I survived, and I grew stronger as a result of that. My faith was not shaken; my faith was strengthened. I’m better today. I’m still in love with Jesus, still committed to the church and still doing what I’m called to do as a believer in Christ.”