I Have a Problem With ‘Church Folks’ 2

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

I Have a Problem With ‘Church Folks’

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

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