By Olufunke Cole
There has been a trending news item which drew my attention to recent outburst of a pastor who was allegedly among more than forty clergymen sacked by Living Faith Church International, popularly known as the Winners’ Chapel. In a letter of termination of their appointments, the headquarters accused them of falling below expectation of “church growth index”. I will rather say without equivocation that, the term “low index growth” in church is nebulous because what it connotes is vague. As far as I am concerned, the definition of application of growth is still shrouded in secrecy of whether it was about monetary gains or population growth. But then, my fear is what could become of pastoral office whether it is a spiritual attainment or a self achievement. This is what calls for an urgent discourse. The question is, what are exactly the duties and purposes of pastoral duties since they can now be fired by their “employer” on the flimsy excuse of ” church growth index” whatever that means?
Now, in my humble opinion, to reiterate the purpose of pastoral office and duties, the Bible, which is our ‘official’ guide unambiguously explains that they represent shepherds whose flocks look up to for guidance, counseling and teachings to live accordingly, most especially in a Christlike manner.
While, I await the response of the clergymen concerned, I would like to ponder on the word, “sack” as it is synonymous with secular jobs as misleading. I had thought that pastors should be appointed based on conviction by the Holy Spirit, just as it was with Saul, who later became Paul and Barnabas where the disciples prayed and received the spiritual convictions to appoint, Acts 13:2. New International Version states, while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
My fear is not what has become of today’s Christianity, but what it will portend for the future of Christainity. Like I tell people, Christianity is far above religion which invariably means that it should be able to denounce all forms of men’s dictates and doctrines, but here we are, scampering for help to uphold the tenets of faith as originally handed over to us and present in the Bible. My fear is not what has become of today’s Christianity, but what will outlive these eras of christainity.
Like I usually tell people, Christianity is far above religion which invariably means that it should be able to denounce all forms of men’s dictates, idiosyncrasies and doctrines. Here we are, scampering for help to uphold the tenets of faith that ordinarily should be a yardstick for lifestyle, measurement as well as clergy duties. The reverse is now the case, where pastors are employed like what we have in any business organisation and also sacked at will while indirectly asked to vacate church premises without the establishment of allegation of unholy conducts against them. The pertinent question is this: when has church become a biased environment for dictatorship and high-handedness?
The church is meant to serve the purpose of help, counsel, guide, comfort, to reprimand lovingly, and also offer succour and spiritual healing. Even, if a pastor errs, it would not be right to drive him out of the sanctuary but reprimand him in love to retrace his steps back to the rightful place of grace, consider the book of Galatians 6:1-2. If we all agree that the pastors were appointed by the Holy Spirit, how then can they be dismissed entirely from the sanctuary by an overseer, who’s also believed to have been appointed by same Higher Spiritual authority?
*Olufunke Cole is a Doctoral student, Department of History, University of Lagos