The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Stop Greedy Church Leaders

opinion

Churches are heading towards becoming money changers' dens as materialism among clergy becomes the norm. Contrary to Jesus who came to seek and serve, clergy are blatantly acquisitive.

As I see it, they now regard churches as an open sesame to affluence. Admittedly, not all are depraved, but the generality are indeed shepherds turned predators whose mastery of ingratiation is artistically refined.

Spurred by self-indulgence, clergy are founding churches at a rate higher than juice card vendors sprout. There are no indications of a decline as they aspire for cosy lifestyles at the expense of congregants.

Non-spiritual associations like burial societies are of better repute than churches which arbitrarily split, leaving members in limbo. Unlike yester-year when splits were a preserve of white garments under-trees sects, nowadays all churches are at risk as clergy hellishly clamour for materialism. Social planners are worried as keeping pace with the increase confounds even those blessed with the mathematical genius of Sir Isaac Newton.

Ruwa, a nestle without municipality status, is home to a whopping 50 plus denominations. What a hustle it is to allocate each a church stand!

Clergy's self gratifying cravings are a conspicuous social nuisance; an irritant that mires families in its wake. A national crisis is imminent if polity remains aloof as the free for all carte blanche to found churches gets abused. Just as Salam Rushdie risked limp and leg to pen Satanic Verses, my resolve is that it is about time the role of clergy in mushrooming of churches be spotlighted.

My conviction is that it is long overdue that clergy be compelled to abide by a stringent professional code of practice. Church formations do not indicate an increase in conversions to Christianity but confirm burgeoning pursuit for materialism among clergy who are steeped in despicable enrichment antics. To all intents and purposes, clergy are U-turned from Jesus' recommended narrow gate. They lay the gospel down with a trowel in order to scam congregants.

Restraint was long thrown to the wind. Some churches exert on lavish clergy's birthday parties, amongst a host of other bizarre fleshly feel good whims.

As I see it, if deceased Bishops were to resurrect, they would be at pains to recognise churches they led, save for the emblems. My good old friend, Rev Dr Levi Kadenge, lecturing guru at Epworth Theological College, is best placed to explain on petering reverence of clergy amid their self announcing parasitic practices.

A spirit of sponging took root in their hearts. The letter "w" from "Mwari" was deleted, resulting in the gospel being sold, not told. Given this insatiable craving, clergy stampede to found churches. Jesus' instruction, "Freely you were given, freely go and give," does not sear their conscience. They propound prosperity gospel, urging congregants to heed that God loves cheerful givers.

Sermons resonate with, "give and it shall be given unto you", exhortations, craftily veneering the fact that clergy are intent on leeching, than on soul winning. Gullible flock fall prey to the ruse; hoodwinked into believing that they just live by faith, not by sight. Yet clergy pay a duty conscious sentry's attention on offertory basket. Clergy, like commission earning salesmen, live by sight.

Like a farmer troubled by rapid growth of weeds, I am roused amid clergy's thriving on deceit galore. My spirit swirls as congregants, desperate to preserve the sanctity of churches, air their unease in hushed tones and attend services out of habit than for spiritual nourishment.

It is dispiriting that congregants now pray for divine restraint on freeloading clergy. Their heart cry conveys in me a clarion call as distinct as that which roused William Wilberforce into championing for abolition of slavery.

Emancipation of congregants compels me to throw hat into the ring. Deferring it would be a prodigal forfeiture of my social responsibility mandate. I am mindful that opening a can of worms which clergy prefer to remain canned till doomsday is a daunting mission.

I therefore derive drive from the fact that humanity neither erects monuments nor weaves laurel wreaths for the timid that pursue course of least resistance. As I see it, clergy are poachers in wardens' attire whose devious practices warrant halting. They conceal deceit in feigned modesty just as roses conceal thorns in petals. Jesus' indignation towards merchants and money-changers He summarily drove out of the temple is a plausible precedence.

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