Having been around the priesthood for over 3 decades as well run my own enterprises, I know who a pastor is and I know an entrepreneur when I see one. When a pastor begins to make merchandise of the gospel of Christ, he is nothing but a pastorpreneur or what else do you call him?
Pastor-preneur is derived from the root word “pastor” and “entrepreneur”. The former means, a person who supervises a church, while the later who runs an enterprise for profit. When you combine the two words, you will get the intriguing word “pastorpreneur.”
Every day, they device clever tactics to disposses people of their hard-earned resources. Recently, I was invited to attend a service presided over by one of the pastorpreneurs. The presiding pastorpreneur arranged a car-gift in his church. Incidentally, I knew the guy who “gave” the car to the pastorpreneur. He does not have a car. As soon as our eyes had contact, he disappeared from the church. As the service was about to end, the pastorpreneur gave the same car out to a member in the guise that he was led by the Holy Spirit. Obviously, the recipient was their gang-member. In the same church, I saw several expensive cars parked in front of the church. I “sized up” those who brought the cars and concluded that the cars were rented to appeal to the psychology of their potential victims. These are 419 operations!
Pastorpreneurs has regretfully infiltrated the noble and sacred clergy profession and unfortunately constitute the majority in recent times. Some avaricious folks saw the profession as a veritable tool to amass wealth. Some could not find job, then they joined. Some lost their job due to rebellion in their previous place of worship, and then joined. Some failed in the field of endeavours then joined. Unfortunately, all claim to be “called” by God.
Though they claim to be “God-sent”, however, their patterns contradict not only the holy bible but also the pattern of who they claim to have sent them-Jesus Christ. They seem to have drifted from the Christian fundamentals of preparing God’s children for the second coming of Christ, to entertaining them with psychology, philosophy and motivational talks.
These pastorpreneurs have desecrated the pulpit with impunity and turned it to a theatre of fundraising and money-making venture. They have turned their churches to business entreprise as well as their congregation to clients.
Who are the pastor-preneurs?
Not all pastors are pastor-preneurs. Those who bear the “preneur” suffix often commercialize everything in the churches cum business centres: besides the traditional tithes and several offerings, they sell their stickers, devotional guides, books authored by them, their church diaries, tapes, CDs, T-shirt, anointing oil, bottle water, white handkerchiefs, etc. Not only that, they establish secular and bible schools to make more money from their members. As their church grows, they task their members to pay for them to appear on radio and several TV stations in order to get more clients who would patronize their products. Furthermore, they create special services and programmes and tag it with motivational and business-like names which draws mammoth crowd who are potential victims.
No sooner had you entered the pastorpreneurs’ places of worship than they welcome you with beautifully-designed tithe and offering envelopes or packs (not bible), which is what matters to them most, not to save your soul from eternal condemnation. They create an atmosphere of opulence and devise smart and inspiring offering-collection technique which makes their congregations excited even after they had parted with their hard-earned monies.
Their services are long enough to enable them psyche up their members to give. In concluding their “sermon”, these psychologists will tell their naïve members, “God told me that some people here have waist pain.” Then some of the members would rush out for prayers as if they came to church with the waist pain. How can someone sit for over 6 hours in a single service and on a wooden or dry plastic seat and would not have waist pains?
Their sermons would not end without mention of countries where they had visited. Such stories excite their followers who are mostly young people. Indeed, these are the last days, where people like to be told what they want to hear, “itchy ears.”
While the bible commanded us to lay up treasures in heaven…however, the pastorpreneurs actually do lay-up treasures on earth for themselves, their wives, children and unborn children even to the fourth generation. Their members give much but do not have the right to decide what their monies is being used for and how. This is the dictatorship of the worse order-religious dictatorship? They run their church as sole proprietorship business. This obviously is not what the early church practiced. But what shall it profit these pastorpreneurs if they gain the world and lose their soul in hell?
Most of the 21st century pastorpreneurs are general overseers of one-man owned and one-man run churches whose congregation fondly calls “Papa” or “Mama.” Their congregations seem to believe them more than Jesus Christ. This position contradicts what Joyce Meyer said, “anyone can be an example, but Christ is the standard.”
These pastorpreneurs give themselves high-sounding titles which has no biblical basis to create an aura of super-human. If they perceive you to be a potential prey, they speak with you intermittently in “tongues.” There seems to be no different between them and native witch doctors that do incantations.
Most positions in their churches are given to their members as compensation for their strong financial support to their ministry. In doing so, they do not care how their big donors make the money with which they give in support of the pastorpreneurs. If you are among the poor or not an active contributor in their churches, you will never get recognition of any sort. Even when you have a challenge, it would be easier to get an appointment with the president of Nigeria than these pastorpreneurs. They create unnecessary protocol which denies those who need them access to them. They see only those they need which Christ rebuked his disciples for doing.
Through the proceeds from their churches, the establish mega businesses and acquire properties worth millions of dollars both in Nigeria and other parts of the world, which are not affordable to those whose monies were used to establish such businesses. They ride on the world’s most expensive cars and private jets, live in choice areas, dress in very expensive dress, and jewelries in the guise that our “God is not a poor God.” These pastorpreneurs worth millions of dollars and have been rated among the wealthiest clergy in human history. Very soon, churches would be quoted in the Nigerian Stock Exchange! Some years back, the Lagos state government proposed that churches and other religious institutions would pay tax. These pastor-preneurs who are heavily connected fought the idea and the rest is now history.
These pastorpreneurs ply their trade in all country that they find group of Nigerians who are usually potential clients. They are shrewd and they milk their clients without conscience.
Their employees are among the least-motivated in the labour force, as the pastorpreneurs brain-wash them to believe that they are working for God and will receive their reward in heaven. Though their employees do the bulk of their jobs, their employees dare not ask for pay rise even as they behold the income of the pastorpreneurs swell up.
Armed robbers extract money from Nigerians by force, the Police extort money from Nigerians by threat, while these sweet-tongued pastorpreneurs with their gift of the jab often cajol, arm-twist and blackmail Nigerians to empty their pockets. They do it with dexterity and spice it with misinterpreted verses from the holy bible to give it credibility. They call it “seed sowing” or “sacrifice” or “thanksgiving.” They re-echo the bible verse which says; it is more blessed to give (in their church) than to receive.
The followers of these pastorpreneurs are so fanatic about them much more than Jesus Christ because they tell their members who have “itchy” ears what they love to hear. Their members quote their mantras more than they quote the bible. The pastorpreneurs gives their members prophecies which appeals to their emotions and expectations.
Their current tactics is divination, which their naïve followers term as prophecies. They perform magic and not miracle. Miracles are God’s intervention in the helpless situation of men. They stage-manage healings and miracles to defraud their members.
As these capitalists get more, the more they want to get forgetting that the bible cautioned against excessive amassing of wealth.
Why pastor-preneurs succeed
Poverty level in Nigeria is so high such that Nigerians are seeking for who would give them hope. Incidentally, these pastorpreneurs offer the needed hope which Nigerians truly yearn for from their government, but with a price tag.
They also succeed because those who patronize pastorpreneurs do not go there for salvation; they go there so that their lives would improve financially and those pastorpreneurs are fully aware of that. So the pastorpreneurs take advantage of these opportunity to “customize” their services to suit them, thereby missing great opportunity to create a godly society. At the end of the day, their services are not far from a social gathering or jamboree with contemporary youth-appeal.
They succeed also because Nigerians are so religious to the extent that they follow their religious leaders without their minds. Much as it is important to respect religious leaders, it is also important that you don’t have to lose your mind and be swayed by every wind of doctrines and heresies from the pulpit of these prayer-merchants. Many think that it is rebellion to ask a “man of God”, to be financially accountable. In fact, some believe that it will attract “God’s punishment.” These pastorpreneurs take advantage of these naive dispositions to feed their ego, keep their congregation in giving-bondage, and equating themselves with God.
Also, they succeed because many Nigerians do not read their bibles. Those who cannot or do not read the bibles on their own and understand are potential preys or victims. Studying the bible helps you to discern the schemes of these commercial prophets. Good knowledge of the bible is the only defence. It is the knowledge of the truth that can set you free from these clever gospel merchants. For instance, the bible recommends 10% of your income as tithe, while the pastorpreneurs impress their clients to pay more in order to receive more blessing from God. The truth is that their members do not get blessed because they did not give cheerfully as the bible instructed. It is even sheer fallacy to believe that the more the tithe, the more the blessing!
In conclusion, I think that God foresaw these situations which is why he stated in the bible that judgement would start from the church? Indeed, it would not be nice for someone to spend all his or her earnings servicing these pastorpreneurs and at the end, lead impoverished live here on earth and miserable live in the hereafter. As we say in Nigeria, “shine your eyes.”