Church, Leadership

Dear S.A Pastors, I Have Something To Say

By Adolf Mathebula

“If you were born with the ability to change someone’s perspective or emotions, never waste that gift. It is one of the most powerful gifts God can give—the ability to influence.” ― Shannon L. Alder

I do not know if I should do the “greetings in the name of Jesus Christ” ritual or lead you in some small prayer before you read this. What I want to communicate here is going to leave some of you a bit offended and wondering. Some of you won’t even care because you are not a real pastor anyway – nor are you even concerned about how a pastor should be; because you think that a certificate hanging on your wall validates or justifies your ministry.

First, let me make it clear that I have strong sentiments about the Church leadership – of which I do not hesitate to make clear when I feel it is necessary. I really don’t mind if I keep offending Christians while doing so. Personally I am tired of fake Christians wanting to control God’s people and get them to accept things that have nothing to do with Christianity.

I am not the type to listen when people say “touch not my anointed” when Truth and justice is concerned. The people of God shouldn’t be exploited in the name of Jesus. Many people who quote that verse don’t even know what it means and to whom that Bible passage was referring to. They don’t even know where it is in the Bible. Most just do it to keep people in fear.

Secondly, I do not approve of any pastoral Church leadership structure that is not in plurality. Nowhere in the Bible was the pastoral ministry encouraged to operate and flourish in the hand of one person; because it can’t. Church leadership is supposed to be in plurality. Even Moses at a point in his journey needed 70 other leaders to help him lead the people of God properly. There are certain things you just can’t do them alone and you need to accept it.

Thirdly, when I say “Dear Pastors”; I mean those who have accepted the call of God; are doing their best to be in the will of God and to preach the Truth of the Scriptures. I am not talking about people who became pastors so they could make money or because it was the easiest career to get into. I am talking about people who are anointed by God for the office and have a relationship with Him.

“Senior pastors cannot be those who think they can do everything but are willing to let a few people help them. Rather, they are those who know they can’t do everything, don’t want to do everything, and are not willing to do everything; they welcome others to come along-side with their gifts in order to form a powerful team for Christ.”  ― Sue Mallory

Now that we have that out of the way, let me get to the root of my message.

Dear Pastors; Give People Something to Do or They Will Leave Your Church.

If you have not yet noticed; there is rise in people who do not feel the need for the local Church; they feel that it is not necessary to go to Church anymore. That you can just sit in front of TV and you will be in Church. They feel that as long as you pray every day and read your Bible you have no need for the local Church. This can be justified sometimes – because to be honest; some people have had bad experiences being in Church. Most of these bad experiences are the results of the decisions taken by some of you pastors. The issue is clear; many people do not feel many pastors are doing what the Bible teaches or feel they are needed in Church.

Some are just tired because since they’ve came to your Church they have never done anything other than sit and listen to you talk every Sunday. To be honest, at a point it gets boring. That is not what God expects of Christians. God wants His people trained and released into the community to work and win the souls of people for Him. Educated people don’t have time to sit and listen to one person talk week in and week out. At a point they get tired and find something ‘better’ to do with their time.

Give people something to do in the Church. Do you have a training strategy or some service that is aimed at training Christians? If not, why are you not doing it? The kingdom of God belongs to the people; give them something to do and watch the Church grow.

Dear Pastors; Encourage People To Pursue Their Talents Outside of The Church.

It’s okay for Christians to have degrees and a good education. The world and the Church are in need of educated people. The next generation of Christians is going to be full of some very educated people. You need an educated Church because an educated Church has influence on different institutions in the country. You need Christian artists, lawyers, web developers, accountant, doctors and cleaners.

Encourage your people to pursue being business persons. Having an educated Church is great in the long run. It gets rid of poverty and complains about tithes and offerings in the Church. It also gives the Church a good position of influence in the community.  Not everyone is going to be a prayer warrior or some prophet. Nor do you need a prophet for everything; sometimes all you need is a good graphic designer.

Some who feel called and want to be pastors; encourage them to go to a Bible school for training. The recent strange things happening in the Church in South Africa are a sign of untrained pastors and we are really tired of it. Which brings me to the next point:

Dear Pastors; Stop Giving a Serious Platform to Untrained Young Pastors.

“The real power and test of our ministry (calling) is not in the pulpit or public arena, but in our private lives, our home.” ― Bernard Kelvin Clive

When I say untrained; I mean young people who woke up one day and decided that God has called them and convinced you about it. You know nothing about them; you have no idea how they became Christians or what is their definition of Christianity. But just because this guy comes to all the Church’s services and has done some wonderful things you believe he deserves to be some sort of a pastor in your Church and you actually fall for it.

I warn you; you will have a lot of problems to deal with in the future. Yes, allow them to work and assist; but never ever give an untrained person a position of authority. Most of these young people have a lot issues and will still have them 5 years from now. I know this because I am young. Trust me when I say this; we have issues.

Train and watch them work; evaluate and keep on testing them. Take your time do not rush. There is no need to declare someone a pastor just because they preach well. Who said they need a title anyway?  I prefer to be called Brother Adolf.  Even if I get called that until I die, I will be fine with it. Christianity is about doing; not positions or titles.

Do not ordain anyone in any serious position in the Church without having spoken to God enough about it. I repeat; young people have issues. You will be there thinking the guy is perfect not knowing there is some things he needs deliverance from. I repeat; young people have issues.

“Youth ministry is not about getting things accomplished – only the act of God can bring about the transformation we seek. Youth ministry is about participating deeply in young people’s lives as we await, together in suffering & joy, the coming of God.”  ― Andrew Root, Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry

Dear Pastors; We Are God’s People.

It is time to start viewing people as being the property of God and not your property. Just because people are willing to pay tithes and offerings in your Church it does not mean you own them or they cannot be good Christians elsewhere without you. It is time to start valuing people as they are not for what they can give.

Once you start treating people God has given you as your source of income and a tool to build yourself some small empire; you are creating an environment that’ll drive people out of the Church. People are not stupid. If you are doing wrong; people will rebel.

I want to make it clear to you that Church members do have the Bible in different versions; we do study and read it. We are educated and know what Christianity is and what it is not. Just because few people can’t see through you it does not mean the rest cant.

Be authentic and preach what is right. The people are not much what you should worry about; it is God you are working for/with that should worry you; are you doing what he approves or not? Christians belongs to God that includes you the pastor.

This was not as bad as you expected right? I really care about the pastoral office and I wish it could be treated with respect and dignity. I may be speaking from some arrogance and ego that is hidden somewhere deep inside my heart but I believe the words I have expressed here are worthy of much considerations. After all; I am youth. We can all write so much (I will always continue to write) but at the end of the day it all goes down to this: are we doing what God approves? Are we doing what the Scriptures say we should be doing? If not, we should consider our ways.

Thanks for reading; let me hear your thoughts and sentiments on the topic.

 

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Church

The Comfort and Danger of Big Churches.

church

-By Adolf Mathebula

“Ninety-nine percent of everything that goes on in most Christian churches has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual religion. Intelligent people all notice this sooner or later, and they conclude that the entire one hundred percent is bullshit, which is why atheism is connected with being intelligent in people’s minds.” ― Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

There was once a time when I thought the Churches in South Africa do not have a voice and a platform. But recently I have come to learn [that] ; that notion is far from the truth and reality. The media and people are paying attention to what is happening in the Church because it matters. The Church is a very important part of how our nation is built and structured. The nation’s leaders and activists are aware of the power that the Church has. This power is known more by activists; they do not fail to get the embarrassing things about what’s happening in our Churches trending on social media by reasons to ‘influence’ people about the Church and its position in their lives.

Some celebrities also feel the need to stay close to some Churches and show their support from time to time and also comment on the issues happening in the Christian circles on social media platforms.  The issue of Dag Heward-Mills ‘comment’ on homosexuality revealed a lot about how celebrities can influence the Church negatively or positively. This answers the question; ‘why some celebrities often chose the big Churches?’. It is all because of the influence platform it provides, the comfort to do as you please and get away with it.

If you have a big Church in South Africa the last thing you want to do is to find yourself arguing and quarreling with a celebrity about what is right or wrong; you are going to lose miserably. In doing so – you have a lot to lose; because in South Africa the Church is expected to behave in a certain way when it comes to how it treats the public figures. One of those things is not challenging the lifestyles and decisions of celebrities. This has given a lot of people an opportunity to find comfort in mega Churches and use their presence there to weaken the Church’s standing on different issues.

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” ― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

It is safe to say that the gap between the ‘world’ and the Church is narrowing and those on either side are doing their best to maintain their position without being swallowed by those on the other side. The whole situation is getting tricky because the leaders in the Church seem to be more concerned with seeking for ways to build “worldly acceptable Churches”. That is; Churches that are not in conflict with the ‘world’ and what the world promote as acceptable morally and as far as righteousness is concerned.

Whereas the ‘world’ wants the Church to rethink its position on certain matters and changes how it does things.

It might seem small but the ‘world’ seems to be winning when it comes to degrading the ‘Church  belief’s foundation’. As a result the Church is weakening on its position of being one of the institution that has influence in the direction the nation should  take on current matters. The Church is more concerned with making sure people keep coming but in the process it is being silenced and being dictated on what it should say and do without realizing it.

Some pastors have lost the fight. They are going with whatever keeps the people coming in the Church because that’s what pays the bills and keeps them comfortable without having to do what God wants them to do. They just want to build a large Church where they can flourish in being worldly acceptable pastors and also be able to get away with doing as they please.

That is the danger of having a big Church that depend a more on the ‘world’ for its position, existence and influence than it does on the actual Christian members of the Church. The leadership of the Church ends up worrying more about what they need to do to keep being relevant. They forget that God has given the Church a mandate and command to preach the Word and win the souls of the world for Jesus Christ. This in actual fact is what keeps the Church relevant as far as God is concerned.

The leaders of today’s Church accept everything. They are scared of the public’s opinion more than the God they profess to fear and follow. Let’s not get into debate about who God is; as clearly as it is stated in the Bible – a lot of pastors have shifted from their views about who God is and what the Word of God is to be in the lives of people. They have done a good job in making sure people do not see its true authority in their lives. All because they want to be accepted and build big Churches.

Leadership is all about influence; but today’s Church leaders are the ones in the hand of the influence of others. It seems to be what   happens when the Church gets bigger; the people start influencing you [the leader] more than you do.

The Church members are also to blame. We have allowed our pastors to do as they please – hence allowing the ‘world’ to gain more influence inside the Church’s walls; because we stand by our pastors even when we know they are wrong and are breaking the laws and principles of God as revealed in the Bible. We have taught them  not to worry about accountability. Some Christians actually do not see anything wrong with their pastors regardless what they do. They will stand by him till death but they will never die for anything that Jesus commanded them to do. It amazes me and a lot of ‘worldly’ people on how foolish we Christians can be sometimes.

If the Church fails to discipline its own leaders the world will eventually lead the Church. Just because a pastor has built a big Church it does not give him the right to do as he pleases. The bigness of the Church is not God’s forever approval on the uprightness of the pastor. At any level the pastor should be able to be held accountable by other Church leaders. There should be no fear to hold responsible a pastor for the actions they take with the lives of people.

But as it stands; some have built these big Churches to make sure no one gets to them. They are using them as defense and protection from the responsibility of having to explain themselves and being accountable. Sometimes I do wonder if people do respect some pastors or they just respect what the pastors have managed to build around them.

There is nothing embarrassing than hearing a pastor defends the nonsense he did saying “Jesus told me” knowing even through the Scriptures that ‘such’ is not acceptable for Christians.

Let me make it clear that I am not saying that big Churches are a problem; the issue is the system that gets built when these Churches starts growing. Most of it has nothing to do with running a godly institution but it is more concerned with protecting the interest and motives of the leaders and making sure money keeps coming.

We do not expect the pastor of another Church to mingle in the affairs of another Church and control what is done there but no pastor that is meant to be a single independent entity that no one can advice or correct. Every pastor is part of the Body of Christ and do not have special rights that any other member of the body do not have. Their position earns them respect but once they abuse that position they should be questioned. Hence even in the Bible; we are taught that the leadership of all Churches should be plural; of which the lead pastor is equal with others in his position but with more authority to lead and direct. Those in leadership with him should be able to hold him accountable.

This is me saying; let’s stop treating Church leaders based on how big their Churches are and what they did in the past and hold them accountable for their action if they are wrong. If we fail to do so; the world will step in and influence them and us; in the process they will start running Churches. We have the Word at our disposal; lets stop acting as if we are unlearned. Because to be honest; we can really act stupid sometimes.

It is hard to address these issues without sounding judgmental or feeling the need to exaggerate. Even at the end of this article I did ask myself if my motive is right in writing about this issue. But one thing I do know is; it would be great if all the Christians would have this moment in their lives where they access their motives when doing the things they believe are for God. The comfort of what we have built around us should not make us think God is with us and approves whatever we think is right. The counsel of the Brethren is a very safe place to be; all the pastors should seek to be there. Amen.

Let me leave you with this quote:

“The church exists primarily for two closely correlated purposes: to worship God and to work for his kingdom in the world … The church also exists for a third purpose, which serves the other two: to encourage one another, to build one another up in faith, to pray with and for one another, to learn from one another and teach one another, and to set one another examples to follow, challenges to take up, and urgent tasks to perform. This is all part of what is known loosely as fellowship.” ― N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense