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Rich pastors, poor congregations: Between prosperity and piety


Armed escorts that won’t think twice before ramming the butt of their guns into tithe-paying members of the congregation struggling to catch a glimpse of their ‘revered’ leader; rare edition luxury rides that swoosh by, decked with tinted windows and windscreens; loud convoys announcing the ‘evangelic’ presence of another daddy or mummy in the Lord;  perfectly pressed designer outfits and shoes, whose glitter could blind those who stare too long; first class living standards even a few of the world’s richest may be too ashamed to boast of, among others, are just a few of the paraphernalia of affluence, that have gradually come to become the norm when it comes to announcing a cleric’s presence in today’s Nigeria, as we know it.

Then, there are the accompanying scandals of tax evasion, embezzlement, financial impropriety, the tussle for accumulation of more wealth, among others. The question is: What exactly should be the norm for a person called into the service of the divine?

Tithes, offerings, voluntary contributions, appreciative cash exchange, among others, are ways the church gets funds channelled towards the propagation of the gospel of Christ – its primary assignment according to the Christian doctrine. In the same vein, salaries, proceeds from sale of publications authored by them, gifts, among others, are ways pastors may become rich, considering the anointing that accompanies their divine call into the ministry.

However, in recent times, there have been concerns on the parade of jaw-dropping material acquisitions by pastors. Following the provisions of the Bible – the rule book for pastors – as well as the Christian doctrine, Nigerian Tribune examines the necessity of flamboyance by pastors, in line with the example of Jesus Christ – the perfect model for Christian living.



God calls pastors to humility –Prophet Abiara

Celebrated cleric and one of the leading voices of the gospel within and beyond Nigeria, Prophet S.K. Abiara, speaking with Nigerian Tribune condemned the parade of affluence by pastors, insisting that the practice wait in line with the doctrine of Christianity, which promotes a life of service.

“According to the Bible, when one loves and serves God, God blesses the person, and that blessing is expected to be extended towards those who are underprivileged. For such pastors with tight security, maybe it’s the kind of security they want. I don’t blame or judge them; it could be that’s what they want. The Bible states in Psalm 46 that ‘God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.’ For us, we depend on God. When I have not offended anybody or been involved in anything illegal, why should I carry guns? To take the example of Christ: He was born in a manger. He could have been born anywhere, but he was born among animals. The message therein is that those in leadership positions, be it president, governors, or even pastors, they must be humble, so that our lives would be examples for people to learn from ,” Prophet Abiara stated.




‘Christ calls us to service’

President, United Aladura Churches, Sup. Evangelist Samson Banjo, who said it would be difficult to judge pastors on their lifestyle as he was not God, said: “We can only preach meekness. Christ said if anyone wants to lead, he must be a servant. The injunction to the church is clear. When we get to heaven, God Himself will judge if what they have done is right or wrong. The flamboyant lifestyle of pastors causing folks to derail is not acceptable and they should reverse their decisions. I cannot comment on anyone’s life. In the United Aladura Churches where I preside, no leader or pastor lives a life of opulence. Our message is always aimed at encouraging modesty.”



‘No pastor should become wealthy by worldly standards strictly from ministry income’

Paul Edwards, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of God and Culture in Detroit, Michigan, and Founding and Teaching Pastor at Redeemer Church of Clarkston, Michigan, in 2010, spoke on the allegations of Pastor Ed Young, Jr. at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, who was said to have sponsored a luxury lifestyle on the backs of the tax-exempt gifts of the members of his church.

Speaking on the topic, Bible Boundaries on Your Pastor’s Salary, published on www.godandculture.com, Pastor Edwards made the following points, basing his analysis on the teachings of the Bible.


He cited the examples from the Old Testament where the Levites lived off of the sacrifices (animal sacrifices and offerings), noting that it is expected of the congregation to care for their spiritual leaders, but “how much of those offerings could be utilised by the Levites was clearly stipulated. There were boundaries on the living the Levites could make off God’s people.”


He also noted the example of the disciples, where they were asked not to carry a purse, signifying that “money should not be the priority of ministry and further that any size purse is never big enough, creating in us a desire to accumulate more and more wealth.”

He also goes on to cite 1Timothy: 5, “where Paul makes it clear that we are not to muzzle the ox who treads the corn, that the labourer (the one who labours in teaching the word) is worthy of his hire, but that Paul himself did not make the ministry his sole source of support for his lifestyle (1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8), therefore the best approach would be for ministers/pastors where possible to support themselves through other labour though scripture does not require this.

“That said, however, no pastor should become wealthy by worldly standards strictly from ministry income. The broader point is that the Bible allows for pastors to “live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14), not to get rich by worldly standards from the gospel,” he stated.



‘Flashy lifestyles are for those in show business

Pastor Biodun Oyeleye of Dominion Life Bible Church, Gaa Akanbi, Ilorin, Kwara State, in his reaction, condemned the parade of flamboyance, whether by pastors not those outside the ministry.

“Except those in show business, who need to use it to create a fake impression about their wealth, status or reality of life, should any reasonable human being parade flamboyance? For clerics, the Bible says we should be moderate in all things. ‘All’ is emphasised here, and that includes our physical appearance, houses, cars, even furniture in our homes. So, any cleric that dresses flamboyantly is not working in line with the dictates of the scripture.

However, we have to define what flamboyant lifestyle is, and that’s why we may have people exploiting the situation because, to a large extent, we cannot have generally acceptable standards of measuring flamboyant lifestyles. Nevertheless, my attitude is that any appearance that draws attention away from God, and rather focuses on the human, is something to worry about. If people focus more on the material things you parade, such as your outfit, rather than the work of God or the God in you, then something is wrong,” he stated.

Source: NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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