The Chief Strategy Officer of Christian Leadership Institute for Management Development, Professor Oyewole Sarumi has said the church has a responsibility to train unproductive pastors rather than hastily dispensing with their service.
He also warned that the church can’t afford to use the same yardstick employed in the secular world to handle its staff. “If we do that, the world will not see the difference,” he said.
Oyewole spoke with Church Times while reacting to claims by Bishop David Oyedepo that sacked pastors in the Living Faith Church also known as Winners’ Chapel got the boot because they were not productive.
While identifying about eleven indices of church growth, he noted that many churches are only interested in two of those indices. “There are Spiritual growth, numerical growth, financial growth, Moral growth, material growth, Physical growth, Social growth, Emotional growth, Geographical growth, Biological growth, Transfer growth, and Leadership growth. Unfortunately, what concerns many overseers are financial and numerical growth.”
He said the first question is to ask if those pastors were well equipped for the job. “From what I see, I think many of them were jobless. They needed a job and they got one. They were not called. But now that they have been engaged, they needed to be equipped appropriately. You will be shocked that some of them may not be able to communicate effectively. For those who were posted to rural areas, are they able to speak the local language of the people very well? They may have interpreters, but their ability to communicate with the local language will go a long way to help their ministry.
“Again, are they able to preach effectively? If Bishop Oyedepo called them, did he equip them with necessary tools? Are they deep in God’s word? Can they show love to people? Can they endure longsuffering? All these are part of the spiritual indices to show whether they have the capacity to be fruitful or not.”
Professor Sarumi who is a trained theologian noted also that many churches are not investing in discipleship. “That is why many of the converts we claim to have are not devoted to Jesus. Rather, they are devoted to the set man of the ministry. I also observed that some of the pastors on the field today are wounded soldiers. We are sending wounded people to the battlefront. They are wounded in their soul and spirit. Some came to the ministry for personal gain. How do you want them to be productive.?”
Sarumi who is also a marketing and entrepreneurship development consultant said, “If the church is a charity organisation as we claim the church has no business sacking people as the world sacks. The church is an institution set up by God to mould lives. If the pastors are not fruitful, why send them away; why not disciple them to make them better?”
He cited the example of another top Pentecostal church that sacked some of the pastors who were not bearing “fruit”. “The difference in the case of this particular church is that it was still paying the sacked pastors for up to three years so they could get their bearing and look for some other things to do. Pastors that are not showing any sign of being called can be eased out in a gentleman’s way rather than being sacked and asked to quit the apartment given to them immediately.
“I believe if some of these sacked pastors are trained and discipled some of them could still become useful. The church can do it if they really want to. Some of them will be better and can be pushed back to the field. If God gives up on us nobody will be saved.”
Referring to the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13v6-9, he said, Jesus in that parable talks about being patient with the barren fig tree, the man who planted the tree waited for three years before he wanted to cut down the tree, but the gardener still pleaded that they should wait another one more year. I think there is a need for patience when it comes to the issue of bearing fruit. But then the right atmosphere has to be created for the pastors to bear fruit. That is where training comes in.”
He however noted that some people are not trainable. “for such people, it’s either God did not call them or that it was man who called them. When Gideon was to fight his war 33000 people volunteered. But by the time he was through with them, only 300 hundred were usable. I think we need to learn a lot from this. People can volunteer their services for God. But in the end, God will decide who to use”