Whereas others are for or against the sacked pastors of Living Faith Church; for or against the church and its presiding bishop, Dr David Oyedepo, I’m for neither.
First, for the pastors I’m sure they weren’t recruited from the streets and deployed to the churches, they must’ve been members of the church a while and ought to have been immersed in its culture. They ought to have known about meeting and exceeding expectations. For instance, if the church itself grew by 10,000 additional branches last year alone with its COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions notwithstanding, one would expect them to know that nothing less is to be expected of any one of them, and not only them but everyone else in the system.
Second, I want to believe they went through different levels of pastoral training before being ordained and commissioned, and at the point of employment they knew what they were signing up for.
Every staff and/or member of the church must’ve heard of the critical ministry handbook The Mandate: Operational Manual Living Faith Church Worldwide Winners Chapel written by the founding/presiding bishop himself, the most critical resource material of the commission next to the Bible. I expect all staff to have read it to know what is expected of them.
Third is, thousands of pastors were employed last year alone, why then would anybody be among 40 of those found to be unfruitful? I’d do my best never to be among the least 40 of even 100, not even of 1,000. We’re talking 10,000 here!
I’ve seen the Sahara Reporters’ news report of one of the laid off staff blowing the whistle about how his (now former) colleagues doctor figures, report fund collections that are not true with the active connivance of others in the system, and make up for the falsified records from their salaries. He went ahead and said many of them don’t have meeting halls, no congregations, etc but create the illusion with the false filings, a practice characterised as ‘wisdom’ or ‘applying wisdom’ which he couldn’t do.
First, I personally don’t appreciate people who care about a system so much after leaving or on their way out. This, he could’ve said when inside to save the system. Second, why would anybody draw a salary for doing nothing? What are they being paid for? Third, there are many who report accurate figures and are visibly growing or is everybody reporting growth falsifying figures? The gentleman should take several seats!
On the other hand, I’m not pleased either with the manner in which the pastors were sacked. I know church is business but if it’s done in the name of Christianity, my opinion is that the motivation for all in Christianity is love. Meaning whatever is done ought to be in love, sacking unproductive workers inclusive.
Many claim Jesus said any tree that bears no fruit will be yanked off. But these aren’t trees are they? They are human beings. Those who say these things forget the part where an unfruitful tree was to be uprooted but the master asked it to be manured again for another season to see whether it would be fruitful or not before deciding.
I’ve seen no record of the underperforming pastors being interacted with to find out what the issues might be, and seeking to help them fulfill their commission, failure of which they were relieved of their duties. In my opinion, it’s the humane way to go about it.
From the letter seen in the public domain, the sack was ‘with immediate effect’ as they were required to vacate their living quarters same day! I think people should be given notice to quit and not hounded out of their residences same day, even if they are bachelors and live alone. They didn’t kill anybody or commit any crime, they simply didn’t meet the ‘church growth index’.
I think relieving people of their duties can be made painless, after all they are leaving. I think business should be done some humanity and consideration.
Sesugh Akume, a public policy analyst, wrote from Abuja. He is reached via email@example.com, and tweets @sesugh_akume.