|Black American Pastors at a Conference.
Image: Jason Barnes.
First off, let me state that I believe in the story of Jesus Christ, and that his existence, birth, life, death, resurrection and reign is the model of faith that I subscribe to.
That been said, I must also clarify that I abhor religion. In essence, while I believe in faith (and the need for it), I am not a fan of the structures that define religion. Hence, I am not a follower of any religion in the world. I believe GOD has called us to have a relationship with Him that surpasses the trappings of religion. As par this mindset, I have a problem with ‘church folks’. But since I am only concerned about Africans, it is better to say ‘I have a problem with African church folks’.
To set a premise, let me define what a ‘church folk’ is.
“A church folk is a person who is only outwardly devoted to the teachings of the church but who is the direct opposite of the Christ he/she claims to follow.”
Now that we have the definition out of the way, let me explain my reason(s). The hardest thing here is to get broad categories but I will try. Here are some examples of African church folks.
1. THE NARCISSISTIC CHURCH LEADER:
I will start with the pastor/prophet/minister/priest who have god-complexes. Their word is law! They may not feel they are equal to GOD but they sure act like it. They have no nuances of humility or pretenses of obeisance. They ‘demand’ of GOD and ‘command’ GOD to do their bidding. They shout at GOD as they would their servants. In similar fashion, they demand that their followers obey them to infinity. These church folk literally determine how their followers live their lives; whom they marry, what sort of jobs they do, and how often they must attend church meetings.
These church folk are so narcissistic that they cannot stand their followers listening to other pastors/prophets/ministers/priests. I have heard of such church folks who tell their congregation that ‘you cannot serve two masters. You cannot drink the spirit of other people and expect to be effectively functional here.’
This is where we hear of church leaders who beat up, abuse or put down church members who do not kowtow to their every direction and command.
It is also where you hear of a church leader who says things like, ‘As I got to that house, the devil couldn’t stand me. He had to flee. He knew that pastor/prophet/minister/father (insert name) had arrived. Somebody shout hallelujah.’
We have many of these church folk in many African churches but they are not the worst of the pack. Let us look at another type.
2. THE ‘WE MUST BUILD/EXPAND OUR CHURCH’ LEADER:
Many church leaders care more about their precious buildings and expansion than they do about the lives of their church members. It is always contribution for this building project or that expansion vision. Some go as far as telling their congregation that God ordered them to build beautiful edifices for HIM. They blackmail their church members into making huge donations because whatever you sow, ‘you will reap bountifully’.
Money that could be used to feed the poor amongst the congregation, clothe people, send members to school or cover the costs of rent is spent building ‘houses of God’. Since when does God live in a house? Since when does Heneed one?
As a result, we have beautiful churches with empty people. I know of a man who gives thousands of naira weekly to his church for the building expansion but who wouldn’t give N1000 to a poor person. If there is any donation for the church building, he is usually the first to give but if a donation comes for say, widows’ welfare, orphanages, school sponsorship and what not, he wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.
3. THE MONEY HUNGRY CHURCH LEADER:
Everyone loves money; that is a fact. Everyone wants to be rich. So I am not bashing this group for wanting money. I am pissed at the way they go at it.
My bestie told me of a pastor in Lagos who had a really large congregation and no, it is not any of the big churches. She said she was invited for service there and when she arrived, she saw that the pastor was dancing. Dancing is not the issue here. The pastor would dance to a group of people and would say, ‘Spray me! Spray me! Spray me and get your blessings!’. And people would take out wads of cash and begin to spray. Yes, I was as shocked as you probably are now. What was more shocking however was the number of ‘big men’ my friend said she saw at the church. She mentioned how Range Rovers, G-Wagons and other such luxury cars lined the street of his church. The statement ‘Money doesn’t buy you wisdom’ became sensible to me.
I was at a church program sometime last year. The guest speaker was a charlatan like many I had seen before. He brought some handkerchiefs with him, wiped his sweaty face and saliva spewing mouth and asked the church members to each take one. The price range started at ₦10,000. I do not exaggerate when I say that people ran to the altar to get one! When close to 50 people had done that, he went to ₦5000 and like that until it was ₦500. When it seemed like people were only trickling in, he screamed that he saw a vision of 20 unmarried women getting their husbands and 20 young people getting their admission letters into the university. The words weren’t fully out of his mouth when many people ran out. I am sure that more than 50 girls ran out for the chance to get their own husband. I was miffed at the level of ignorance that was put on display. How could people with multibillion cells for a brain go to buy sweat drenched and saliva infested handkerchiefs with their hard earned money just because the charlatan played on their basic wants?
I knew I had to leave that place else I lose my mind. I was ashamed that I had been there long enough to have seen that. Let me move to the next one.
4. THE PHILANDERING CHURCH LEADER:
Don’t you just get mad when you hear of that ‘man of god’ who has sex with church members, impregnates them and hides his face when the cameras are flashing? You are like, what the flying hell was this man thinking?!
But even worse than that is the leader who is exposed as randy but who shows no shame, remorse or contriteness. You know that pastor now? That one whose scandal was on all the national dailies? That one who didn’t bother to stand and apologize for any drama he brought his church? That same one whose congregation multiplied after he said some cheesy lines during service? Well, there are many like him. I mean, if you have a great calling and you are leading multitudes to ‘god’, you will be faced with challenges and temptations right? After all, didn’t King Solomon, with all his wisdom, have all those wives and all those concubines? And didn’t King David fall for Bathsheba and go as far as killing her husband to have her? Did that prevent them from being men of God? And oh! God is ALL forgiving and ALL merciful! Isn’t He?
Mind you, this leader may not be the ‘set man’ of the ministry. He may be that associate pastor, choir leader, or home cell pastor.
And on international level, who remembers the South African pastor who was rubbing the bare buttocks of his female congregation? Dude has a high libido and instead of sleeping around, he performs ‘fertility prayers’ for said women and asks ‘god’ to bless them when he rubs their arse. If that was going on in public, what do you think was going on in private?
I really want to get into this one but the next type of church folk beckons at me.
5. THE ARSE-KISSING CHURCH LEADER:
Many church leaders have made it possible for corrupt politicians, entrepreneurs and civil servants to feel right at home in the church. They welcome them with open arms and in some cases, give them church positions to fill.
I heard of a man who attended a growing church. The man was a big shot in the Nigerian army. He commanded men and had social clout. When he attended the church for the first time, the pastor introduced him to the congregation with so much fanfare and pomp. He asked people to welcome him and since most of the church members had a similar spirit with their pastor, they were quick to confer on him ‘a brother in the Lord’ title. Soon enough, this military man was found to be randy. He had slept with more than 10 girls in his first three months. News trickled to the pastor and he didn’t so much as do anything about it. One of his church members who was dedicated to the things of the church, told the pastor that the man wanted to marry her and she wasn’t interested because he was a philanderer. Guess what pastor man told her? ‘He is one of the pillars of our church. You should consider marrying him. I want the best for my daughters and you, especially, deserve the best.’ That was the day the lady stopped attending the church. In order to keep a big man in his church, the pastor was willing to pawn off one of his dedicated followers to a whore. Can you imagine that?!
I have seen where pastors give dirty politicians the VIP treatment just because it is a plus to tell their fellow pastors the caliber of people that attend their churches. Some will go as far as saying that you cannot change them if you do not bring them close to you. I agree. But you can refuse their ill-gotten wealth, treat them no better than other church people and preach the word that is true, undiluted and renewing.
This then brings me to the last group of church leaders that I dislike.
6. THE OFFERING/TITHE/GIVING PROPAGANDIST:
This one is different from the money hungry church leader. This one spends all their time preaching about giving, offerings and tithes that you would think that is the only thing God is about. They don’t preach about proper living, faith, grace, wisdom, understanding and influence unless it is linked to giving, offering and tithes. They manage to bring up the blessing that are attached to these three acts of giving without mentioning why all that giving is a sack of trash if people are not innately good and are not building a Christ-Like lifestyle.
So we have people who live all sorts of lives but who never default on their tithes, their offerings or any opportunity to give. And trust me, many of these people think, no believe, that their lives are right; as right as it can get!
These are examples of church leaders that I absolutely dislike! Now these are not the only church leaders I cannot stand but this list covers a bit. They are one of the biggest problems with the church today! They, and their church members, bring so much shame to the faith they claim to follow.
And because I have started on the church members, let me switch over. Also 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.
To see who made it to the list, check out I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ‘CHURCH FOLKS’ 2.