“There is no perfect Church, if you find it, do not join it, you will spoil it!” That is what my Pastor used to say in those early days of my Christian walk. It used to make sense and it still does in an ever increasing way especially in this current world.
That being said, there are some things that I see many churches and church organizations do, especially on social media that just leave a bad taste in my mouth. “Who do you think you are to judge the church”? You might ask. Well the simple answer is that I am the targeted audience of the church and so are billions of other people across the globe. ‘Worldly organizations’ as the Church calls them, refer to me as a customer and they spend billions on me!
Now, I know many people would initially cheer me on because of what they expect me to say. I know very many people expect me to go up against the idea of tithes and offerings. I am sorry to burst your bubble, I am a firm believer in the Biblical teaching of giving. So some people might drop off right here, but I would urge you to read on.
First off, the Church like any organization has its goals. It has an audience to reach to…which is the world. The same applies to every local expression of the global church. We need to understand that all of us, in our quest for Life Signatures have our targeted audiences.
A sorry day it is when grown ups do not know who their audience is. Any visionary has a laser-like focus on his audience. His desire is to be able to reach out to as many people in his targeted audience with consistency and value.
With the view of the targeted audience, I have a few bones to pick with the church and church organizations. Now, let us know that these same things apply to thousands of visionaries across the world. It is time to unlearn the old and move on by being relevant and current. You cannot have new wine in old wine skins, can you? So, as I take a swipe at the church, I am also taking the same swipe on all of us visionaries thus killing two birds with a single shot! Oh, the joy of writing!
- The first swipe at the church is the idea entitlement: This has the church or church organizations have the spotlight on themselves and not the people they are supposed to serve! “The church is untouchable”, they would say. “The church is entitled and deserves to be respected”, they would add. No one is entitled to anything on earth if they do not expend effort to acquire it! Tweet this. Just because you have a bunch of names (and do not get me started with church names here) that contain the word ‘church’ in them does not mean we will all flock towards you. You are not entitled to have followers. You are not entitled to receive tithes and offerings. But here is the catch: Your audience is entitled to receive exemplary and quality services that your organization revolves around. Donge? (Kenyans will understand that word, Donge)
- The second swipe at the church is the idea of conservatism: Just stay on social media for minutes and you will be appalled at the ‘advertisements’ that churches carry out. You have photographs of preachers wielding big microphones…you have photographs of the congregation in ‘church routines’ such as lifting hands in worship…you have photographs of preachers ‘fervently praying’ while laying hands on people…heck, you even have scores of photographs of people sprawling on the ground apparently after being slain in the Spirit…All these antics are deeply rooted in conservatism (which has its place), but does not serve the targeted audiences. Your adverts are full of preachers portraits, and for good measure, some guys add (from USA). If Jesus Christ was the Pastor of some churches today, I am not sure he would ‘advertise’ Himself in the manner we see these days. It is simply appalling, lackadaisical, un-thought out, and generally puts people off! There, I said it!
- The third swipe at the church is the ever constant use of technical jargon: The spiritual anecdotes you are throwing around to all and sundry cannot be understood by your targeted audience! That is why Jesus Christ used relevant stories of the day in getting the Message across. Jesus was not all that obvious! He would use a parable that would make you ask questions, reflect, think and re-evaluate your life. He talked about bread, knowing that the targeted audience would want that any day. He talked about water knowing that they had water issues then. He used the language of the streets! Sadly, the church thinks that using the street lingo is sinful! I used to know of some Christian brothers and sisters who would find me really questionable just because I did not greet them by saying “Praise the Lord!!” Please Church, understand that you are here for your targeted audience and not for yourself. Find out what resonates with their lives and use that to communicate. And no, I am not saying that you compromise your message!
- The fourth swipe at the church is the Over-promising and under-delivering: “Come for miracles signs and wonders!!”…and then when we do…the only sign we find is a preacher shouting himself hoarse while sweating bullets! Look, if there will be miracles, there will be no need for advertising them! I kid you not! I have literally walked out of church services that lacked excellence and passion (yet I am a believer…what happens with the targeted audience?). Yeah, I know you will say that the Spirit of the Lord is the one at work…then in that case He would not need you to shout hoarse, would He? One of the hallmarks of excellence in Christianity is “Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel”. You walk into a church service and you can easily see that the preacher did not prepare, the choir did not prepare, the logistics are pathetic…and we are supposed to endure all that ‘because we are Christians!’ We are also supposed to leave the tithes and offerings behind after those ordeals! Look, I need to see preachers going for Presentation Skills classes…and I kid you not…they do need these classes! This is part of preparation. I now concur with my Pastor years ago who told me to get a degree before I can think of full-time Ministry! Thanks Pastor Johnny!
- The fifth swipe at the church is copy-catting (Being plagiarist): It simply means that you feel inadequate in your mandate. I will never ever forget one day in Kampala, Uganda. I walked into a church service. The preacher mimicked all and sundry from the healing televangelist Benny Hinn. From the songs the man sings in his crusades, to the pitch, to the timing of co
ming on to preach, to the voice intonation! I felt so cheated! Apparently, if I had never watched Benny Hinn, that would have been a powerful service. I can assure you this guy spent hours (if not days) practicing for this show! What a cheap presentation! If we needed to watch Benny Hinn, we can just go to his website! So years after I walked out of his service, I saw the dude on TV. This time round guess as who? He came championing ‘Wisdom Keys’, the same thing that Dr. Mike Murdock (My mentor has done all his life). And your guess is as good as mine…I changed channels and watched a Nigerian Movie! What happened with us being Original? Why do many people in churches feel the need of using someone else methods without as much as issuing a disclaimer? The consolation to the copy catting came some few years back in Africa. Suddenly, church organizations started competing on who can bring the biggest name in Christian circles to the country! T. D Jakes came and went, Benny Hinn came and went, Eddie Long, Alvin Slaughter, Juanita Bynum, Joyce Meyer, and many more. Their colossal impact forgotten! So who is back at the pulpit? Yourself! That should tell us something.
Like I said, there is no perfect church. There never will be this side of eternity. That however can never be an excuse for lack of excellence, innovation, creativity and relentless focus on our targeted audience each year!