I borrowed the word obscenities used on the headline of this piece from Rev. Collins Morris of East Africa in his book titled-“Include Me Out”. (strange things that happen in the church is the editor’s addition) He described the average modern preacher as a word merchant, peddling goods that he himself would not want to buy.
He wrote of a preacher who resigned from the ministry to go and study medicine so that he would be talking less but benefiting more people. He wrote that many preachers talk much but little or no acts of compassion and person life examples to authenticate their messages.
I want us to explore our contemporary terrain as I share with you a FEW instances of obscenities:
* The Reverend gentleman who is sustained by the gifts, tithes and offerings of the “members” of his church, but mourners could observe the conspicuous flashes of his gold chains and gold wrist watch during the funeral service of one of his members who died of starvation.
* The preacher collecting offerings at the open-air crusades at the National Stadium at which area boys and many unbelievers are present. One needs to reflect how much Jesus collected at his two major “crusades” where about 30,000 and about 20,000 people, including women and children were preached to and fed free of charge, with many healed (3 John 7, Ezra 4:1-3)
* The instrumentalist or drummer sending his bill to the church where he listens to the messages on Sunday mornings, to receive payment for services rendered in glorifying his maker. What a hireling!
* The preacher who extends prayers at the end of his preaching with one eye opened because people are trooping out to drop seed-money by the pulpit-at the “apostle’s feet”. That is not the type of seed according to Jesus(Luke 8:11)
* The new generation affluent man of God smiling broadly as he receives cash gifts from his underprivileged members, some of whom had just been given quit notice for outstanding arrears of rent and which he was privy to.
* The offerings time-blessing time anchor-man collecting offerings from members and spouses who are at open loggerheads that had not been resolved (Matt 5:23-24)
* The Vicar who developed hypertension, having ventured into huge debt to build a sanctuary that will provoke Solomon to envy. Commendable effort by the world’s standard but God had shifted base from the Ark and no more dwells in temples made with human hands(Acts 7:48, 17:24).
* The charismatic preacher sweating profusely at the pulpit on a very sunny day but still doesn’t want to remove his 3-piece suit and tie.
* The irreverent clapping of hands during prayers to the sovereign God such that people cannot even hear and follow the prayer leader.
* The waving of offerings for others to behold the quantum. They have had their rewards (Matt 6 :1-4). Some even ask us to speak to it and send it on errand. This is what babalawos (herbalists) and witch doctors do.
* The American billionaires in dollars prosperity group who say it is more blessed to give than to receive. Does that not apply to them also? If they had been faithful to that scripture, in all probability, they would have dropped from a billionaire to a millionaire status but with added spiritual blessings.
* Praising the Lord only when success comes our way.
* Jumping up to march and trample on Satan under feet. Melodrama! The devil is a spiritual being not physical. In spite of decades of this practice, many are still bound by the same Satan.
* The multiple divorcé (e) or polygamist who established a ministry for Marriage Seminars and Couples’ Retreats.
* The celibate priest maintained by the diocese but secretly accumulating properties. What are his intentions when he had no wife and children to whom they will be willed?
* A congregation jubilating and praising God at the testimony of a female fresh graduate who went to the office of a minister or a senator in Abuja to seek for employment or contract and came back a week later as a millionaire.
* The establishment of your church in a block of flats where two or three other denominations are on other floors of the same building. I witness such along Demurin Street, Ketu. It is likely that if a pastor shouts Praise The Lord, the absent minded ones in other parishes may respond with thunderous Hallelujah!)
* The worker who claims to be born again and spirit-filled wriggling on the floor like cobra during ministrations. I have witnessed this over and over in Nigerian churches (James 3:11-12)
* The eloquent man of God who spends 30 minutes on “message” to jump-start people to give offerings. Moses spoke for less than a minute to collect offerings for a whole temple building (Exo. 35:4-9,20-21)
* Armed robbers with AK 47 gain access into a pastor’s bedroom at midnight. I expect he would pray silently and ask for God’s intervention and guidance. Or if destabilized, he should seek and negotiate for conditions for peace. Rather, without a rhema, he shouted at the top of his voice-“I blindfold and bind you in the mighty name of Jesus. You sons of the devil, collapse right now and die!
* The preaching of the message of the cross when the preacher himself is not ready to carry any cross. These are the Me-I-No-Go-Suffer pastors.
*The opening of Psalm 35 or 23 under one’s pillow before going to bed.
* Men in ministry claiming the office of prophets, who look straight and tell people their first names, dates of birth, number of children in the family, our bank balances, but cannot see through into our hearts to reveal our sins(Act 5:3, 13:9-10).
* The police officer stopped you and demands your vehicle particulars but you replied him that you are a man of God.
* Preachers too pre- occupied with administrative works and Church finances, but download messages of other preachers from the internet 10 minutes to the church service.
* Someone addressed as a pastor who responded-“I beg your pardon, I’m now a Rev. Dr.”
* A church elder who instructed his tenants whose rents are due in January yearly to shift the payments to February to avoid paying first fruits that his church requires of him.
* A host pastor who spends 10-15 minutes to introduce the guest speaker. They did not spend up to 15 seconds before ushering forth Paul to give his message (Acts 13:14-15)
* A pastor preaching for 45 minutes and interludes PRAISE THE LORD fifty times in between. This was a real scenario when a preacher sincerely requested me to listen to his message in the church years ago and to note down my observations.
Read also: WHAT IF PAUL HAD “REMAINED” MARRIED https://www.churchtimesnigeria.net/what-if-paul-had-remained-married/
* A preacher who would spend 2 minutes for opening prayers, 8 minutes for singing choruses, 25 minutes on success tips, 15 minutes on motivation, 5 minutes on holiness/kingdom, 3 minutes for ‘altar call’ and 2 minutes for closing prayer. All packed in a 60 minutes’ message.
* Pastor asking people to start packaging their offerings at a Church service, but did not distribute cartoons. A subtle strategy to induce people to stretch beyond their affordability. God loves a cheerful giver as he has purposed in his heart not a lobbied giver (Deut 16:17, 2 Cor 9:7)
God bless you. Shalom!-ODUNUGA, O.O.