TONI THORNE: Altar bashing only scares souls
LAST SUNDAY, a close friend was sleeping over at my home. We decided to go to church. We both identify as Christians. However, we aren’t avid ‘churchians’ – a term I first heard from a close family member.
Just as we were about to depart, my friend (for future reference, let us call her ‘Sally’) decided she was going to her church as opposed to joining me at mine. She made all kinds of arrangements to get there, put on her best attire, carefully chose her shoes, spent half-hour on her make-up (as opposed to her usual 15 minutes) and even called a taxi to come for her before a church friend said he would pass for her.
“Wow! This church must be really something! The sermons are really good?” I asked. She beamed and boasted about how powerful her pastor’s sermons were and that she was really looking forward to attending.
Although Dunamis is my church, I went to, and had a wonderful time at, First Baptist. Our group of friends had a cook off which I departed from church and attended right after the service. When Sally arrived at the cook off, she was sulking. Her face then began to play hopscotch between anger and depression. Eventually, I asked her in front of everyone what was wrong.
Sally is a young hairdresser who also sponsors my television show.
Here is an account of Sally’s church experience:
After the sermon, the pastor called Sally to the altar. According to Sally, he then proceeded in front of the entire congregation to say the following: “God told me to tell you that you believe that you arrive but you ain arrive! You coulda be the most sought after hairdresser in Barbados and the Caribbean if you did not leave the church! God had a lot of plans for you! But hmmph!” He then proceeded to anoint her head with oil and sent her back to her seat.
To be honest, as we listened to this story, our group found it hilarious at first. We howled and hollered over the plates of food as we sipped our mauby and, sweet drinks.
As the food settled we all went silent. Serious discourse started about Sally’s experience.
I have often witnessed these kinds of altar bashings (not at Dunamis). My question is always, whether the Man of God is aware of the fact that more often than not, this is an embarrassing tactic and does not motivate the person being bashed to want to return to the church. It goes against the motive of the Man of God-which should be to win souls for Christ. I understand that sometimes God may speak to a Man of God at a very strange moment.
However, shouldn’t discernment be utilised and some of these things be said in a one-on-one session which could even develop into counselling for the person who seemingly “walked away from God”?
Might I also point out that just because someone has walked away from church does not mean they have walked away from God. We need to stop making this assumption. I personally do not go to church often but the sun does not rise or set and I do not get on my knees and praise God. A decision is not made in my life without consulting God.
It is also my opinion that the aforementioned message by the Man Of God is a hopeless one. There is no element in it for Sally to believe that she can salvage her “horrid” actions and still be “the most sought after hairdresser”. Man of God, does the statement “God had a lot of plans for you” mean that he no longer has these plans for Sally? Isn’t our God a forgiving God?
I would like to implore the churchians amongst us in the Christian community to continue to keep those of us who do not make it to church as often in your prayers. Pray that we continue to be guided by the will of God and have a continuous life of hope and blessings.
Pray that when we do attend church that we are inspired to return and make fellowship an important aspect of our everyday lives. Pray that the next time someone approaches us and states that God told them to tell us something, that we are able to distinguish whether it was God who sent the message or not.
God bless us all.
Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email [email protected].