Some few years ago, I made a decision to be passionate about God and anything concerning his kingdom. That’s why you’d sometimes find me in some churches that I’m not even a member of.
In recent times. I’ve observed a new practice that has crept into some churches in Ghana. It is the influx of bodyguards or security men. I remember watching a sermon on T.V. some time ago and my dad’s nephew passed a comment about the pastor being too materialistic. I then asked him the reason behind him making this claim and he said anytime you go to his church, bodyguards are always around him as if he’s a big person. I sarcastically told him that of course, he’s a big man so he needs the utmost security. I said this because I really admire the man of God and also my dad’s nephew didn’t give me a strong premise to back his claim.
I visited the church of that pastor one day and he announced that anybody who has a problem should come in front of the altar to be prayed for. All of a sudden some two guys who were supposedly part of the security detail appeared from nowhere and positioned themselves like land guards in front of the altar and formed a barricade between the people and the altar. They frowned their faces like hungry lions looking for someone to devour. They combed through the people with their eyes in a predatory manner as if the people the pastor called for were coming to kidnap him. Since I came out because I had a problem, I humbly ignored the scene that welcomed me and behaved like a patient in an outpatients’ department waiting for a doctor to cure him.
Since then, I’ve observed some other churches positioning security men in front of their altars. It makes me wonder whether pastors have assumed the status of celebrities in our society. I’m sometimes tempted to question the rationale behind this practice but upon second thought, I just dispel it.
I was recently invited to a program in another church and I just can’t keep my mouth shut on what transpired there thus prompting me to write this post. A certain well-known man of God was billed to speak during the program so we went there early and were ushered into our various seats. Some security men came to do a security check and made sure the seats reserved for dignitaries were enough. Few minutes into the start of the service, a member of the security detail approached me that I had to vacate my seat because it’s meant for security. I was amazed because I wasn’t sitting on a reserved seat so I told him my seat wasn’t part of the reserved seats and showed him the seats that had reserved tags on them. He explained that every pastor and the level of his security detail and this pastor’s safety was very paramount. His explanation made me wonder whether this was a church or a war zone.
A friend of mine had to vacate his seat for me to sit. When the pastor finally arrived, he came with a very few entourage so most of the seats that were reserved for important dignitaries and the so-called “High level” security team including mine was empty till the service ended.
During the service, a baby was making some funny sound and all of a sudden one of the security details quickly turned his head to see where the noise was coming from. He then got up and walked towards where the noise was coming from and by the time he resumed his seat, the baby’s sound wasn’t heard again.
In the course of the service, a gentleman was walking towards the altar to place an offering on it. The countenance of this security detail changed to that of alertness and he positioned himself as if the innocent man was coming to attack the pastor.
As is the usual custom in our part of the world, people troop in front of the altar to dance and praise God when praises songs are being sung, especially during offering time and this service was no exception. Some vibrant youths trooped to the front to dance and at a point in time, some men stood up and had to literally drive these innocent youths back to their seats. I was intrigued by this act because what I’m usually used to is people dancing their hearts out during praises time and when the instrumentalists stop playing their instruments, everybody disperses to their various seats without being told or directed.
As if this was not intimidating enough, another instance happened which made me snap out. At the end of the program, the pastor made an altar call where those who wanted to give their lives to Christ were called to stand in front of the altar. Some security guys quickly got up and formed a barricade between the altar and the people and were directing the congregants where to stand as if they were kindergarten school kids being lined up for Independence Day parade. I was bewildered by this scene. In as much as these people are seen as lost souls, one thing I know for sure is they have the basic common sense to know where to stand in front of the altar.
What are we turning our churches into? A military ground or a terror prone zone. Why is it that when pastors are handing out envelopes calling on members to come and give cheerfully, these security men don’t form barricades between the pastor and the people. Or When it comes to doling out money people can’t be security threats? Why are we being hypocritical? Why are some of these security men allowed to behave as if, they love these men of God more than the congregants? Where were they when some of these churches were built from the scratch? Why are some of them even allowed to play the role of God? They sometimes forget the one these pastors are answerable to.
Where were they when the parents and grandparents of some congregants had to sacrifice their life savings towards the establishment of some of these churches at the expense of their immediate family?
Are pastors not humans just like the congregants? Or is it because God has elevated them so their human status has metamorphosed into some Superman? In as much as these security men are meant to protect pastors from any mishap, some are becoming an albatross to the congregants. They forget it’s because of these innocent people that the pastors they protect like eggs are called pastors. It is the sweat of some of the members of the church that has made the church what it is today.
When you take a good look at other religions, they don’t do this. The rich and poor worship together in harmony. I’ve never seen an Imam with a lot of security men around him
When some of these churches started, the pastor was easily accessible to all members and was the father for all but when the church starts growing in number, these same pastors become accessible just to an exclusive few. People with financial prowess easily get access to some of them even at odd times. Woe unto you if you don’t have the financial prowess but want to see some of these pastors and you’d be subjected to a long bureaucratic process that would even discourage you from seeing the pastor. They make some of these pastors even look like monsters that they’re not.
As a result of this, some congregants don’t feel relevant in the church. They don’t have a cordial relationship with their pastor. The solution to some emotional challenges congregants face is just a bear hug from their pastor but as a result of these so called body guards, they are deprived of this privilege.
The world is filled with so much hatred and the only place that people can find love is in the church. Let’s not allow hatred and insecurity in the world to fill our churches. Let’s create an atmosphere where the broken hearted can feel the love of God through our actions in church. After all the church was meant for the lost and broken hearted and not the strong. Let us create a conducive environment where we can come to church and worship God from the depth of our hearts without any restrictions.