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Opinions of Thursday, 7 December 2017

Columnist: Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin

'Sexy' Pentecostals and 'wacky' churches

What is in a name? A whole lot, especially when it comes to naming a new church in the Pentecostal–Apostolic stream.

Apologetics, existentialism, atheism and the other isms have expanded our breadth of knowledge, sometimes forcing us to do unusual things. A community church claims they have God’s telephone number.

To prove it, they called their church ‘God’s Phone Number International Church.’

Nomenclature is a complex science. A rose is a rose, no matter what you call it. And a church is a church, even if it looks like a shrine. Maybe Shakespeare was simplistic on that occasion. There may be a way to call a rose to make it sound rosier than other roses, lest it may be confused for a roast. It seems choosing an ordinary name for a church makes the grace of God look too affordable. The congregation in a small American town named their church ‘Original Church of God.’ Well, being original doesn’t say it all, so another church also called theirs ‘Best Spot in the Lord of God Ministry.’

Fast church, quick sermon

If you are in the best spot in the land and you are not in the good books of the owner of the land, you could lose your property one day. So a church with foresight decided to call themselves ‘Jesus is The Landlord Ministry.’ What about miracles? Salvation is not enough these days. ‘Healing Has Begun Ministry’ is an apt name for a church with a mission. What if the healing delays? Nobody has time to waste these days. A church in Nigeria took all these into consideration and settled on a cute name: ‘Jehovah Sharp Sharp Ministry,’ where the gospel is served like fast food.

Well, speed is not everything; modern churches realise that they are not fighting flesh; they are up against spirits and principalities. That was the inspiration behind the church ‘Power Pass Power Church of the Mountain Ministry Incorporated.” If we are serious about defeating the principalities, we need fire, pure fire to consume the enemy. This is the daily business at a church called ‘By Fire By Fire Ministries.’

Where does fire come from? Angels are usually loving and peaceful; they don’t play with fire. Yet, imagine an angel wielding divine fire consuming your enemies, so you could sleep well at night. Make a date with ‘Angels of Fire Ministries’’ in Nigeria, and you would sure see angels hovering in the space spewing fire like no hell’s business. Yes, the Kingdom has suffered violence.

We sure need fire but we must tread cautiously, especially in Kingdom business. Being Christian means being set apart. We are in the world, but not of this world. If the world is on fire, Christians could show the difference by consecrating themselves in the secret place of the most High.

There is a church called ‘The Laboratory Church of God’’ where all congregants consider their sanctuary a laboratory where they can experiment with God using spiritual molecules. The laboratory idea works fine, because modern Christians are experimenting with faith and hoping from one church to the other.

007 Church of James Bond

In all these, however, the modern Christian must remember that the Christian life is a difficult one, and Christ remains the example. Christians cannot live as free elements in a social experiment; a certain mode of behaviour is recommended by a church called the ‘Strict and Particular Baptist Church of England.’ Even if God decides to forgive our trespasses, the devil will remind him of our other sins. The pastor at ‘Devil go hear am Ministry’ in Nigeria provided a sure warning. And if they don’t heed the warning, there is a church in South Carolina called ‘Hell Hole Swamp Baptist Church.’

Hell? To hell with all the threats about fire and condemnation; life must go on. Otherwise, what is the grace supposed to accomplish? We should be able to get things done like iconic character James Bond of 007 fame when we want our way with things.

The people of Toronto made this count when they formed ‘The James Bond United Church Community.’ We could make the Christian life fun but while at it, we can bite into the grace at the ‘Bread of Heaven Sent Down From Jesus Church.’ In the end, if Jesus does come, He would take us to Heaven. Who knows the gate of Heaven? Prophet Kumchacha named his church ‘Heaven Gate Ministry.’

We cannot take things for granted anymore; we need to pursue aggressive measures to win our battles. If you have such a belief, then join the ‘New Aggressive Church of Deliverance’ in the USA. However, when you sense that the aggression wouldn’t earn you enough points to make Heaven, then the right place to seek solace is in Kumasi at ‘Run for Your Life Ministries.’ Yes, do run, because you don’t know who is pursuing you. If you want assurance that you will not die before your time, then sign on as a member at ‘Elshaddai Shall Not Die Ministries’ in Nigeria.

Apostolic aberration

Having a good church with a great name means nothing when the church has not received the necessary accreditation and registration credentials. ‘The Accredited Church of God’ in Nigeria has no such problems. So is the ‘Waterproof Baptist Church’ in Louisiana, which may be the place to go and hide when the various hurricanes in the USA come flooding. When the floods do come, the Christians behind the ‘One Love Church,’ would be there to show us love.

Controversial and death spewing Rev Owusu-Bempah may have done the best job in this church branding business. The Rev knows that God has exalted his word above his name and he never shares his glory with another. Rev Owusu-Bempah combined these two truths to form the name of his church: ‘Glorious Word Ministry International.’ He did better than the other Nigerian pastor who sacrificed all the rules of grammar to call his church ‘The Yoke Must Broke Ministries.’ By grace, grammatical sins are forgiven.

You would pardon Bishop Obinim’s excesses if you spot the oxymoron in the name of this church in the USA: ‘First United Separated Baptist Church in the USA.’ The names of the churches we see these days tell a lot about our vanity and impiety. Let’s hope somebody starts a movement to correct this ‘apostolic aberration.’