by Ishola Alolanle Fatai
KICC creeps me out. No, there’s no clever wordplay here, no hidden meaning. The Kingsway International Christian Centre creeps me out. I don’t mean ‘creeps me out’ in the I-wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-within-a-mile-of-it way I would refer to say, TB Joshua’s ‘Synagogue’. But an experience there has left me deeply uncomfortable till today.
I had the distinct fortune of being invited to the church by my aunt with whom I was staying some weeks ago. Of course my natural reaction would have been to say no, but to avoid having to explain to them that I wasn’t exactly a churchgoer because I didn’t exactly believe in God would have resulted in a long discussion and most likely an attempt to preach to me and ‘save my soul’ which I honestly did not have the strength to endure. So yeah, simply going to church seemed like the easier option. The sermon was like many others so I’ll spare you any long details.
Now at this point in my life I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that churches are businesses; how could they not be? Building branches everywhere and organizing revivals and camps and what not takes a lot of money, which has to come from somewhere, right? However, there is something deeply upsetting about a “man of God” telling members of his congregation that the amount of blessings they will receive is directly proportional to how much money they put in envelopes being handed out in church; which was exactly what happened at KICC.
The service was winding down and apparently because it was the first service of the month, tithes had to be given, after which offerings would be collected, as well. No big deal, right? Except for the fact the pastor’s idea of motivating people was to tell them that the amount of money they gave would determine how much they would gain. The exact quote was, and I wrote it down, so as to never forget, “tithe opens up the floodgates, offering determines what will come out.”
This is not a personal attack on KICC. I’m sure similar things are said in churches every day. I’ve heard allusions to similar statements in churches I’ve visited over the years, but never have I ever heard it put in such a blatant manner. “Offering determines what will come out?” Really? Are people in church to worship someone they consider a supreme being, or play the lottery?
It can, perhaps, all be blamed on people who are gullible enough to eat up the words of their pastors and ‘fathers’ week after week and do exactly as they say. But there is something terribly upsetting about pastors who see their positions of power as opportunities to play on people’s desperation for ‘blessings’ by telling them that it is somehow related to how much money they give the church.