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Have We Lost Our Priorities? Christian Bodyguards!
GUNS IN CHURCHES
If you think you are not judgmental, think again. Let me say from the start, that this article is not about bashing anyone or putting someone on the spot. It's not even about driving a point of view across. It is meant to provoke intelligent thought and discussion on one of the very important, yet highly contentious issues.
Let your thoughts flow freely. You are allowed to be critical in your imagination. This hub is connected to the one on "why would a pastor punch a woman in the face in church?" As absurd as it seems, this happens more often than is reported.
Are Christian leaders, particularly pastors and priests, endangered species?
While we may argue that there seems to be no one description for a qualified pastor or priest today, there are certain qualities that we can agree on. It is a known fact that in places where other religions thrive and have been given supremacy over Christianity by the state (or ruling coalitions), Christians face a lot of persecution and constant harassment. Many are tortured, killed, jailed, and international bodies like the Human Rights Watch reports that there are numerous confirmed cases of arbitrary disappearances of church leaders around the globe. Examples include, Muslim and communist countries like China, Pakistan, India, Tibet, Nigeria and Egypt.
In very brutal cases, public executions in the Muslim world are still used as an example of punishment to those who do not abide by the established rules. Of course, in ancient times Christians did the same to non Christians or anyone who challenged the establishment. They threw the disobedient ones in cages and dens of lions. Yet some were forced to fight against giant Siberian tigers in public arenas with Chief priests, rabbis and other religious figures as umpires. A rude awakening of what could happen when religion is allowed to run unbridled. But, we are not going to go there in this writing.
On the other hand, Christian leaders in the so called free-world have the liberty to do and say whatever they want, in a manner that suits them. Whether this offends others or not. Often, the methods used may be unpalatable to the common man. The range of power and influence for these Christian leaders is as varied as the constellation, or like items at a flea market. American politics today are showing a return of religious influence into daily governance and politics. There seems to no longer be any separation of powers and the supreme court seems useless to stand as a symbol of impartiality. Judges are now political party cadres.
Churches have mushroomed like crazy. In some places, Churches have outnumbered schools, hospitals and restaurants. They are at par with night clubs and bars. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Recent Church names have also become more exotic. - "Change Point Church," "Glory to the lamb church international", "touch me with your hands ministries," "Evergreen community church," "Saddleback Church," "World Harvest Church," "World Changers Ministries," "Church of God in Christ of the child Jesus," "Original True Baptist Church," "Greater Mount Calvary Baptist Church," "No turning back church of healing and miracles," "Church of Tongues of Fire international," to mention a few. You can Google some of them to get a feel of what I am talking about.
Then there are those which are named after their leaders. Not in honor of their work after they die, but before they even pass on. John Hagge ministries. Benny Hinn Ministries. Paula White Ministries. Ernest Angley Ministries. Kenneth Copeland Ministries, and many more. Whether this is ethical, scriptural, necessary or just style will be covered in another hub.
Many of these church leaders have become so big that it would feel appropriate for anyone to say they seem lager than life. Some boast a following or church membership of not less than fifty thousand people in a single gathering. To give you a vivid picture, that is equivalent to the population of an entire city in some of the African countries.
With so many people joined together for a single cause, you would expect that nothing would be impossible to achieve. However, that is not usually the case. Many of these churches become so sophisticated that it requires full time professional management teams of more than hundred people. Their budgets are ridiculously astronomical and safely competitive with big wall street corporations. And yes, I know you are waiting for me to mention their salaries.
You'll be depressed to learn that some pastors are so rich, that they can afford to pay for your entire family's college education and medical insurance until you all die from natural causes and old age.
So here are a few thought provoking questions I want your feedback on. Feel free to let loose and just be as courteous in your choice of words.
- With this kind of enormous fortune, would it be safe to assume that pastors or priests might be in danger and therefore require personal security (bodyguards)?
- Would it be right to assume that their pastoral ministries are more effective now, since they can afford to pay for whatever they need?
- What about that personal touch and connection that is required of a pastor or priest with his congregation? How accessible should pastors and priests be to their flock?
- Is this a justifiable model of ministry to which Jesus would say "this is what I meant when I said greater works than these will you do, because I am going back to the father"?
- If ministry is sacrifice, why should pastors focus so much on personal protection and that of their fortune, than sharing the gospel of Christ with the poor? Is it not the spreading of the good news to the poor that we call the gospel?
We all understand the need for personal security and we are not suggesting that pastors should take unnecessary risks and put their families or themselves in danger. We are not naïve. We know that there are people out there that are up to no good. We have heard instances were pastors have been attacked in their pulpits, homes, have stuff thrown at them by deranged individuals. Please take precaution where it is necessary.
But, I think what is being brought into question here, is not just safety, but the issue of proportionality. To what extent should pastors invest in personal protection and accumulation of wealth, in comparison to investing in others and the work of God? What does it mean to follow the example of Jesus Christ? Would Jesus approve of these multi-million dollar gospel franchises?
Let me confess and say I am a bit disturbed when a pastor strives to become a superstar and sign autographs on all his ministry tours. Have their security guards turn away uninvited guests. Charge astronomical fees to attend a baptism and discipleship class. Restrict their meetings to executive hotels, where they know the less privileged won't be able to make it.
I have issues with churches that ask people to always make advance appointments (many months before) and go through a screening process to have access to a pastor or priest. I don't know how exactly that works. But, I can only think of a teenage girl who is pregnant and wants to talk to someone before she takes her own life. God forbid that she has to be on a waiting list for two months before she can meet the man she feels comfortable talking to. It should worry us if the first line of defense is for someone to call the police for counseling instead of the church leadership.
I personally find myself wondering whether I am just missing the point. Somebody help me understand. Are we on the right track? Has the church lost its priorities?