Excerpts from 'FREED TO GREED'
-How Pentecostals Moved the Goalposts.
On a recent visit to Lagos, Nigeria, one of my spiritual sons invited me to speak to his congregants. I was thrilled, as I had not seen him for well over fifteen years, while he trained under me as a young minister.
On my arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to see he had the ushers lay a red carpet and line up on both sides for the ‘guest minister.’ from Ireland.
What an honor, I thought. Then I discovered there
were two entrances into the hall.
The main door was for the special guest. The smaller door was for ‘other members’.
As they alighted from their cars they were directed by the ushers towards the smaller door, and so was I!
They could not recognize me, as I came wearing a pair of jeans, a simple cotton shirt and sporting a beard.
We were hurried to our seats, per adventure the ‘special guest’ arrived simultaneously. After all, they would not want us to be in the way, would they?
So, I obeyed the instruction of the ushers to sit somewhere near the back of the auditorium. No complaints for me, as I despise been fussed over anyway.
After the church service had started, the worried pastor left his seat, wondering why his ‘special guest’ was so late. I watched him from the corner of my eye, make his way outside the hall, three ushers and two ministers in tow.
As he passed, people were kneeling and doing obeisance. Some were old enough to mother him. He barely acknowledged them. How could he anyway, wedged between his handlers!
‘Have you seen the invited speaker arrive?,’ he asked the head usher. Alas, he was told ‘We have not seen the man of God, sir.’
On his way back in, looking flustered, I tried to walk up to him but was halted by the usher beside my row.’
“Please wait for ‘papa’ to pass through, sir” he said irritably.
‘Papa’? He is only in his early forties!’ I almost screamed. Not one to be hindered, I cleared my throat and beckoned to 'Papa' from my humble back row seat.
‘Bro, I am here,’ I said.
He almost fainted. And so did the usher. Who dared to call Papa an ordinary ‘bro’?
‘Ah sir, when did you come sir?,’ Papa gasped, nudging the usher out of the way. ‘Didn’t the ushers outside see you? And why are you sitting there?’
“I tried to come up to you at the front,” I protested, ‘but your bodyguards, sorry ushers, blocked my path. They told me the front seats are reserved and led me to the back seats. So I sat in the midst of God’s children.’
‘Sir, I am so sorry. Please let’s go to my office,’ he said. ‘Why,’ I asked. “The service already started.”
As he led me to the front, I could sense the congregation looking at me suspiciously. I was like a fish out of water among the front sitters. Who is this not so important person taking an important seat? Why is he not wearing a suit? Where is his tie? How come he has a beard? Where is his protocol team?
As I often refuse to be introduced until after the sermon, the church greeted me with caution, wondering what kind of ‘man of God’ is this, wearing jeans on a Sunday morning?
But then when the Word of God came, many left with tears of conviction in their hearts, including the Papa.
I visited the same church last year and he had taken my counsel. Papa had died and Bro had taken his place. Long gone were the protocol team. His seat was now same as everyone else and he has learnt the lesson of humility.
Does this paint a picture of a Pentecostal church you know? If not watch out, there is one coming near you. The outward show is one of the most disheartening things about Pentecostal Christians. I mean, it won’t really be Pentecostal if there was no hype, would it?
Why are the pastor and his wife’s chairs different (nay, more comfortable) than the congregants? Are their own bottoms made of eggshells? Why do you allow your mothers and fathers age-mates to call you daddy? Because the church gave you a title? Hmmm. . .
Why do the pastor and ministers have special parking spaces? Surely if they arrive early enough, they could park anywhere? Oh, one more thing, why do you treat your Pastor like Bono? He stays in the office during Sunday School and announcements, pretending to be praying. He has the whole week to pray, surely? But when everyone has ended praising God, he makes a superstar entrance to preach, his iPad carried by hefty bouncers.I'
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