|Church members worshiping.
Image: Startup AFRICA
In the first post, I talk about church leaders whose actions are questionable at best and downright manipulative at worst. Catch up in I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ‘CHURCH FOLKS’. In this one, I continue by listing the types of church members I have a problem with.
Equally guilty are church members, followers, congregation or brethren; depending on how you want to see them. As with the church leaders, I also have a list.
1. THE EVERY-THING-MY-PASTOR-SAYS-IS-TRUE CHURCH MEMBER:
I know pastors are supposed to be truthful and speak revelation and rhema but many times, pastors are not right. Sometimes, it may be as a result of an interpretation based on personality or present circumstance. It is our duty to then allow the Holy Spirit to help us test everything we hear and thus, believe in.
But no! Some church members do not agree with this! Whatevertheir blessed pastor/priest/prophet says is true, fact and the undoubted word of god!
This is because many church members do not read the Bible themselves. If they did, they would easily see the flaws in some of the messages being delivered from podiums today.
Reading the Bible alone is no guarantee that one would get good interpretations; that is where the Holy Spirit comes in. In place of the Holy Spirit, many people put their trust in their pastors. In many instances, it is not even the physical pastor; it may be a devotional, a gospel podcast or a message DVD.
That is why a person would buy a sweat drenched handkerchief for blessings, or believe that an ‘anointing oil’ will keep demons away, or a ‘mantle’ will bring good luck, or that when your pastor tells you to take off your pants so he can rub your arse, you do so. That is why a pastor would slap a person allegedly possessed by demons and his church members would say ‘God told him to do so’. That is why a pastor would say a couple of bull crap and his members will believe that his sex scandal was not real. That is why a pastor will match make people who are not compatible and they will stay in a horrible marriage because ‘God said so’.
Do some of these people even ask if God was consulted in any of these matters? If God even spoke at all?!
But then again, why would they ask when they cannot, of their own accord, detect the voice of God in the storm, the raging winds, the tornado or the calm?
In most of these cases, the pastor becomes a god to them; they just wouldn’t admit it.
Enough time spent here. Time to move on to the next group.
2. THE IT-IS-MY-JOB-TO-PROTECT-MY-PASTOR-FROM-ANY-AND-EVERY-CRITIQUE CHURCH MEMBER:
I will like to tackle this group by saying that there is nothing wrong in defending your pastor. There is one catch though. So I will rephrase that statement. There is nothing wrong in defending your pastor, as long as you do not become mean!
Recently, a pastor of one of the top churches in Abuja came under heavy criticism for receiving a gift of a luxurious 2015 Porsche. Many Nigerians were furious and trust me, I will be the first to say it wasn’t their business and some of the reasons for the angst were just petty. What I couldn’t stand was the number of his followers who made it a point of duty to be mean, deliberately insulting and super eager to put down anyone who so much as said anything about their darling pastor.
I know a couple of his church members and the vitriol they spewed on my timeline was enough to make me ask if these were believers or a bunch of e-thugs! I was shocked at the language, at the pure venom and the bitterness that so called ‘Christians’ were pouring out. I was ashamed! Did these people think of what others would think of their ‘god’ after all the drama was done?
In another instance, another pastor came under criticism for divorcing his wife who accused him of abuse. Church members were quick to relegate the wife to a place of disfavor while extolling their king to higher heights. The fierce way they defended their leader was enough to make me wonder.
And with all the pedophilia drama rocking the Catholic Church, one would think that many priests would be held in less esteem but no! The word of the priest is law! And I have been to some Catholic churches and the way they welcome the priest to deliver mass is nothing short of worship.
What is surprising though is that this defense strategy is only applied when church leaders are the ones been critiqued. When the insult is directed at Jesus Christ Himself or the faith which they profess, these people are usually mute. Now I am not advocating for a fight whenever the name of Jesus is dragged through the mud but if you listen to Christian apologetics like Ken Ham, Ravi Zacharias and even pastors like the Lindseys, you will see how to stand up for the faith you profess without being belittling, crude and deliberately mean. But then again, we aren’t talking about Jesus here; we are talking about dear darling church leaders.
3. THE MY-CHURCH-IS-BETTER-THAN-YOURS CHURCH MEMBER:
Aren’t you just tired of the condescending ways people talk about other church doctrines? The Catholic Church turn up their noses at everyone that is not Catholic. So do the Methodists, Adventists, Presbyterians, Protestants and Pentecostals. Even among each of these groups are divisions as wide as the Pacific Ocean. People who attend Oyedepo’s church think they are right and people who attend Chris’s church think they are better. Even in the Catholic Church, the charismatics disagree with lots of the catholic doctrine. And every day, it is one fight or the other.
I think many Christians forget the simple statement that a house divided against itself will not stand. This is why the church is a blatant joke to many people. Christians are a bunch of funny clowns to most other religions in the world; but particularly in Nigeria.
I have met people from almost all these doctrinal churches who have shared the same belief with me about God and the common denominator is personal research, bible study and a dependency on the Holy Spirit. That is why people in Japan, Israel, Iraq, Malawi, Australia, India, Mexico and Nigeria can arrive at the same conclusion without having met or discussed with each other.
Before you color me judgmental, I want to urge you to finish the article and see then what my conclusion is.
4. THE I-WILL-DO-MY-BEST-TO-TEAR-DOWN-MY-BROTHER CHURCH MEMBER:
Do you remember that one time that your ‘brother in the lord’ burned you so bad that you wanted to leave the church? If you don’t remember, you may be the burner!
Isn’t it funny that many church folks are the first to share (with glee) all the sordid details of your life? They sit and gossip and tear you down and condemn you and judge you while never really praying that you get out of whatever mess you are going through. You know those types right? Those ones that are quick to talk about your fall from grace, or your confusion about God or that moment when you walked into that temptation that resulted in a pregnancy, an affair, a theft or that capitulation that resulted in public shame? Well, the church is full of people like that!
I remember when I was attending one church in Kaduna. The choir leader got a choir member pregnant and you should have seen how he was treated. He was given a chair at the entrance of the church – the back of the church if you are inside – to sit alone and do his service there. He was not allowed to give offerings, tithes or anything like that. He was not allowed to interact with single girls. I remember being mad at all that and that was when I got close to the guy. In truth, he didn’t make a mistake; he had been carrying on with the girl for months. It wasn’t a one night stand which resulted in baby. He was doing wrong. When he got caught, the church did more to damage him than outsiders would have done.
I expected some warning and lessons on repentance but not the shame the church made him go through. When he was done with his suspension, he had lost any desire for God. He had learned of a God Who was forgiving but the people who claimed to be keepers of His word were mean brutes who shamed him when they should have loved him.
Christians have sent many people out of churches and to other religions or even atheism because when they were supposed to be replicas of Christ, they were too busy being Pharisees and Sadducees. Were they right? Yes; according to the law. Did they treat people in love? NO! That is why Jesus felt it necessary to clear their doubts.
5. THE MIRACLE HUNTING CHURCH MEMBER:
This category gets me mad! A person will have a problem, get up, and go to church and waste time praying when there are options at solving those problems. Let me give you some examples.
I know a guy who has no job, spends all his time in church, doesn’t send out any CVs and prays every day for a miracle job to land at his feet. I am like, is God going to type out a CV and cover letter, send it to a miracle company, work on the psyche of the company and get him an employment letter? Mtchewww. And I am not saying something that happened in 1970. I am talking of something that is happening in today’s world!
A woman was sick and wouldn’t go to the hospital because she had ‘faith that God would heal her’. I asked if God hadn’t given knowledge to doctors and pharmacists to develop remedies for most illnesses. When I read of her burial notice and how it was God’s will, I wanted to slap the black off her; dead as she was! Why didn’t she go to the hospital?! Why didn’t she take drugs?! Why didn’t she step out of her ignorance and not waste time freaking praying?!
We have heard of many stories like that and it never ceases to amaze me that people still think like that! Like arghhhh!
6. THE I-PRONOUNCE-DEATH-ON-MY-ENEMIES CHURCH MEMBER:
In all fairness, the church leader is usually the one who starts this nonsense but church members have taken it to a new level of stupidity. In case you don’t know what I mean, let me juggle your memory. Have you ever been to church and you hear church members chanting, ‘All my enemies, die! Die! Die! Die! Die!’? Well, many churches are guilty of that now. It makes me wonder if people think about the examples that Christ set before us. I have wondered how people would think that the same Jesus who told people to love their enemies, to do good to those who hate them, to bless those who curse them, to pray for those who mistreat them, and to offer their other cheek to those who hit them would be okay with them praying death over their enemies. Do they just read the bible like a story book? Oh! I forgot! They don’t read the bible; they wait for their leaders to read it, chew it, digest it and then spew out their interpretation. What a shame!
7. THE SOCIALITE CHURCH MEMBER:
Let us be honest; most people go to church to socialize. They want to meet new people, find spouses, catch up with old friends, unwind from a hectic week, and show off new clothes, jewelries, cars, babies, spouses, jobs and what not. I mean, how will people know they have new cars, houses, jobs, babies etc if they do not go to be prayed for at the altar? And how will they oppress people with the wealth and class if they don’t wear a new cloth every Sunday of the year to church?
A new trend is that people attend churches where there are many celebrities or top notch people just so they can get that much needed ‘connection’ that would help them climb the next rung on the ladder to their success. They become committed to church service and work so that they are seen as faithful and pastor man can then recommend them for jobs with the big shots in the church.
This is very common in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. Since I came to Lagos, I have been told the churches with the highest number of celebrities in my field and how I can get them to endorse my work, thus helping become a celebrity too. Is it tempting? Yes. Have I given in? No. And I will not! That is that!
I didn’t write this to act like I am better than most of these people because in truth, I am not. I have my flaws, my lack of morality and my imperfections. In another truth, I have been in most of the categories I mentioned above.
I am writing this because as a body, the church has done more to tarnish the name of than it has done to build his dynasty and replicate his influence. Christians have become church folks with all the trappings of a religious group and none of the essence of true relationship with God.
One lady told me not to talk about flaws to non-Christians as it will make Christians look bad. I told her that was hypocrisy. If we don’t talk about the problems, we will never solve them or be better. Moreover, many people of other faith already have a clearer view of our flaws than we give them credence for.
Christians need to get to a point where they study the bible for themselves, do some research about the times and cultures of biblical era, ask the Holy Spirit to teach them, impart wisdom on them and broaden their level of understanding. They also need to research science and other knowledge so they can stand and defend their faith in light of things like the Big Bang Theory, Evolution, Random Selection and the likes. They need to go further to find groups of people who are genuinely dedicated to studying the Bible, like The Navigators, and follow them. They need to walk in love and with the knowledge that they are heirs of their Father, joint heirs with the Son and instruments to bring about influence. They need to allow God be king in their affairs and put their leaders in their right places; as nothing more than brothers/sisters who are on the journey of discovery of the kingdom as they are. They need to learn to hear God themselves and be able to distinguish between spirits. They need to stop their religious dedication to things that are not necessary as they learn to walk in the power of things that define them in relation to their creator. And best of all, they need to let their lives be the influence marker the world sees and knows.
There is so much more I can talk about but I will stop here.