I wrote an article a few months ago titled “Pimps in the Pulpit”. I know it sounds bad, but there is a hint of truth in that description. Trust me, I know that talking about religion or the church is never a good idea. Having said that, I’m sure I will be berated for this writing but I hope most will understand that my point is this: when will the black church community take an honest look at itself?
Don’t get me wrong. I love the “Lawd” as much as the next person who say they do. In addition, I appreciate “The Word” and respect “some Pastors”, and there are a few good ones out there to which we should support. I know there are some who have raised hell all of their lives, gone to prison and worse, who now claim to have been called, but not all are what they seem or claim to be. Therefore, we should not confuse the man or church with Christianity or Spirituality.
Let’s be real, you know the scenario – I’ll call it the drama. A pastor gets caught up in some scandalous behavior like stealing money, committing adultery, having children by members of the congregation. The word spreads, a few fed-up members leave the church. The “incident” is down-played or swept under the rug and eventually the congregation moves on as if nothing ever happened. Black churches are notorious for their unwillingness to shake bad leaders. Even in the face of undeniable evidence of gross sin, some congregations maintain their commitments to these shady characters with an almost addictive-like quality.
When this happens, it tends to inflict damage far greater than their collective work. Frankly, it spells disaster for its mission, its people, and its community. The little country church I attended as a child had a preacher that I always admired because he told the truth. He once said, “The bible has been rewritten 28 times. If the first version was God’s word, why then would man need to rewrite God’s word so many times?” There is a lot of money in the name of Jesus.
So in a sense it could be said that it’s like the wolf guarding the sheep. There was a time when the church was there for the community, and now it seems the people are there for the church. Think about that for a moment. During the Civil Rights era, black preachers changed the world; put their lives on the line, and many died for their community. Do you know one preacher who would do that today? Probably not!
I went to church a sometime ago – a mega church. The first thing I saw was an ATM machine. What came to mind was the day Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple, which should not have come to mind. My point is this; let thy soul be guarded with respect to the messenger. Some churchgoers believe pastors (even bad ones) are virtually untouchable, or they are all knowing, like God speaks through them. They are human, and most have an agenda. Let me add that in most cases; it’s not to benefit you.
Because of their position and function within the church, they are seen as being above any charge of indiscretion. People who hold this view will protect a corrupt pastor by immediately denying and dismissing any allegation of misconduct before careful consideration. Sometimes the congregation will blame the victims for their victimization. For instance, many women find themselves blamed for having been sexually harassed. Should they find the courage to speak out, they are often branded as “troublemakers” and demonized as a part of the devil’s scheme to bring down the ministry.
For the record, the Bible does offer human protections for congregations in the form of multiple pastors. It also promotes real pastoral accountability from a group of people who know the day-to-day ins and outs of that particular congregation and who are qualified to recognize and call out pastoral misconduct. I know this is a HUGE paradigm shift but before you prejudge it, check out these biblical references to see if they support a single or a multiple pastor model for local churches. (see Acts 11:30, 14:23, 20:17, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:5, 1 Timothy 5:17, James 5:14)
The Bible never says that Christians should remain loyal to corrupt leaders. In fact, the Bible clearly forbids churches from clinging to such pastors. 1 Timothy 5:20 says “As for those [pastors] who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” There are precious few congregations willing to obey this biblical command. Can you imagine a local Black church publicly reprimanding a corrupt pastor by bringing him before the congregation, calling out his sin, and “sitting him down?” I doubt it!
It says in 1 Timothy 5:21 that even pastors should receive no special favors or leniency when it comes to sin. It says, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.” We need to take pastoral integrity very seriously and avoid the physical, psychological, and spiritual devastation to our communities and ourselves by demanding that pastors obey the Bible’s clear direction.
Who do you follow God or man? Some of these people and places will lead you where you don’t want to go – HELL. If you noticed, I stopped short of saying “game knows games” because most are playing a game with your soul. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…