I worked as a Patient Advocate for many years. One thing that would get me all the time was the red tape when it came to healthcare access. I was often furious fighting appeals and authorizations on behalf of patients so that they could access much needed life-saving medication. Doctors, too, have to jump through structural hoops in the form of paperwork and bureaucracy in the name of insurance networks, approved tests, covered tests, recommended drugs, approved billing codes, etc. If you are reading this post and wondering where I am going with this, don’t worry… a deranged healthcare advocate hasn’t hacked my blog. Haha! 😂 In short, I have seen how bureaucracies, technological automation, and advancement can be a double-edged sword that can stifle a whole system. These healthcare structures have been put in place to protect us but sometimes hurt the very vulnerable people it was intended to safeguard when it comes to access to care. Unfortunately, a similar system has crept in churches today. This system has caused the congregation to automate their theology and switch entirely to autopilot as they surrender their will to a denomination, spiritual father or a religious figure. We have entirely let a structure impede our access to Jesus.
Ok, so I have to give a backstory right…because that was a mouthful (even for me!). Lately, I have just been frustrated when I see the flock being misled by false preachers or false doctrine because of the systems that churches today have in place. If you walk into some churches nowadays, you are met with a “worship experience.” In the line up are perfectly curated songs that set the “mood” once the lights are dimmed. One small church I visited spent a considerable chunk of their budget to bring in full-time worship leaders from the UK who had written award-winning songs. All for a crowd-pulling “worship experience” because the church attendance was dwindling. Look, I have nothing against “good” worship, but I think we are moving astray from the original idea of ministry even if we read the book of Acts to see what the early church did to spread the gospel like wildfire.
Another issue I have is when African communities talk about their pastors as if they are gods. The sheer number of church scandals that surface in Africa is sad. I have witnessed when these preachers promote books they have authored as the “secret to success” and will often market it to be at par if not superior to the bible. Being a Kenyan, I have heard or seen first-hand accounts of flock being misled to give away prized possessions because the “man of God” had a dream or a vision. I went to a church service once where the entire sermon was not about God but clearly false doctrine. I will probably write another blog post about it, but in short, my friend and I were accosted by ushers when we entered the church building because I had lipgloss on my lips, and my friend had a pair of jeans. What irks me is that anointing oil is marketed more as a spiritual warfare tool than the blood of Jesus Christ. So forget the blood of Jesus and reach straight for that 99 cent bottle of olive oil. These structures that are prevalent in churches become the very thing that false pastors love because they hide behind it. They hide behind the flashy lights, the protocol, book sales, and theology that encourages a cheerful and selfless giver. They twist the Bible verses to nudge vulnerable people to give or risk being cursed instead of blessed.
Our relationship with God was never meant to be automated or set on autopilot. How can we go on autopilot and entrust the church system or the “man of God” to dictate the direction of our spiritual lives? That veil was torn in two. Yes, in 2020, we can access God without a mediator. We can worship God without going to the trendiest “worship experience.” All I am saying is that: We should steer away from the over-reliance of systems and automated theology. We need to work on our personal and intimate relationships with God during our quiet time. We should not take the gospel according to a particular person. We should read the word of God as absolute truth and go back and seek God as we clarify sermons just as the Bereans did in the book of Acts.