Don’t let fake pas­tors fool you with their gim­micks

Sign of a true church is Bible teach­ings not mir­a­cles

Sunday World - - Viewpoint - Siphiwe Christo­pher Mathe­bula

The rapid emer­gence of coun­ter­feit churches and church lead­ers can­not go unchecked. This trend has un­der­mined and brought shame to the peo­ple of SA, the Chris­tian com­mu­nity and God. It has hurt cit­i­zens gen­uinely seek­ing spir­i­tual up­lift­ment.

Loosely de­fined, coun­ter­feits are goods and ser­vices of in­fe­rior qual­ity, pack­aged in an­other’s brand name without the brand owner’s au­tho­ri­sa­tion, in­fring­ing on the trade­mark, patent or copy­right of the gen­uine prod­uct.

Chris­tian­ity is un­der at­tack in the same way with fake churches and pas­tors.

This trend has left a trail of de­struc­tion in so­ci­ety where un­sus­pect­ing, gullible and im­pres­sion­able mem­bers of so­ci­ety have been robbed of their hard-earned money, their dig­nity and ba­sic hu­man rights.

The on­go­ing trial at the Eastern Cape High Court in Port El­iz­a­beth, where a “Man of God” and his co-ac­cused are charged with rape and hu­man traf­fick­ing, has given the Church some­thing to re­flect on. While the ju­di­cial process takes place, the Church can­not re­main un­moved. For far too long as the Church we have had a pas­sive ap­proach to­wards the mush­room­ing of false doc­trines and as Martin Luther King Jr said: “To ig­nore evil is to be­come an ac­com­plice of it.”

At this point one of the re­spon­si­ble things to do is to ed­u­cate our cit­i­zens on the things to watch out for be­fore be­com­ing mem­bers of churches.

Here are a few signs of the gospel of de­cep­tion.

■ In­abil­ity to teach

Gen­uine churches led by men and women who dwell on the scrip­tures of the Bible and give Bible-based teach­ings to their con­gre­gants.

If the fo­cus of a church is psy­cho­log­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion, de­vi­ates from Bible teach­ings and con­cen­trates on en­ter­tain­ing con­gre­gants with gim­micks, then it gives one rea­son to be sus­pi­cious. Coun­ter­feit church lead­ers have made a con­certed ef­fort to lead peo­ple away from read­ing the Bible leav­ing them bi­b­li­cally mal­nour­ished and wait­ing for their next fix of mir­a­cles.

■ Lack of in­tegrity

While it is dif­fi­cult to please ev­ery­one, as much as pos­si­ble, a true Chris­tian leader must be above re­proach. If more of­ten than not, there are re­ports ques­tion­ing the in­tegrity and ways of a leader, one has to be con­cerned. A leader can­not al­ways be in the news or on so­cial me­dia for the wrong rea­sons.

■ Lack of self-con­trol

A church leader who ex­hibits char­ac­ter­is­tics of un­quench­able bod­ily lusts is a big con­cern. This could be tak­ing ad­van­tage of con­gre­gants to sat­isfy one’s sex­ual de­sires and the use of in­tox­i­cat­ing sub­stances. Con­gre­gants should not agree to pri­vate prayer or coun­selling ses­sions dur­ing odd times and in se­cluded places.

■ In­sa­tiable ap­petite for money If in the con­gre­ga­tion the “Man of God” is the only one liv­ing a lux­u­ri­ous life, there is a rea­son to be doubt­ful.

A con­gre­ga­tion can­not meet on open fields, tents or rented premises while the leader is liv­ing a lav­ish life. True church lead­ers must be re­spon­si­ble enough to have a vi­sion that is big­ger than they are.

We should not look for lead­ers who present su­per­hero per­son­al­i­ties in pub­lic but are pri­vate fail­ures.

When find­ing a spir­i­tual home, be sure that the leader is able to lead him­self and his own fam­ily well be­fore lead­ing you.

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