Jesus As A Businessman By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

We have to get the politics of religion right if we are ever going to get the religion of politics right. 

 

Over two decades ago, at the library of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, I came across an essay called “Jesus as a Businessman.” What I read in the essay shocked me. Until then, I didn’t know that it was possible for normal people to think such unusual thoughts. Before that day, I believed I was the only crazy one. I feared my mind was going to send me to hell. But after reading that essay, I knew I was not alone. And even if I went to hell, I would have company.

 

So I photocopied the essay and carried it on me for a very long time. Every now and then, I reread it just to marvel at the audacity of the writer. I watched as the photocopy ink faded off the papers but the thoughts the essay put in me did not fade. Until recently, I did not know who wrote the essay neither did I know the book it was extracted from. 

 

The other day, I found out that the essay was just an introduction and the first chapter of Bruce Barton’s 1925 book called “The Man Nobody Knows: A Discovery of the Real Jesus Christ.” 

 

In the book, advert executive, Bruce Barton, retells the story of Jesus Christ. Barton emphasizes some aspects of Jesus’ life that portrays him as an epitome of a modern day business man. The author asserts that Jesus used today’s marketing tools and advertizing strategies to build a formidable business empire. For example, Barton highlights the way Jesus picked his workers and the way he appointed his successor as proofs of great managerial skills. He contends that Jesus’ message was streamlined and spiced up with everyday real life stories. Barton insists that Jesus’ odd lifestyle was attention grabbing. Critics of Bruce Barton’s bestselling book accused him of “strained anachronistic exegesis” and of turning Jesus into the image of his advertizing world. 

 

I presume that Bishop David Oyedepo has read that book. And so has Pastor Enoch A. Adeboye, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Pastor Chris Okotie, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Prophet T. B. Joshua and all the other pastors who brandish the prosperity preaching brand across Africa. If they haven’t read it, they must have read a book written by someone who read Barton’s book- like George Barna’s 1988 book, “Marketing the Church: What They Never Taught You About Church Growth.”

 

It all came together for me in the last few weeks. After my interview with Pastor Tunde Bakare and Rev. Nimi Wariboko, I was very close to an epiphany. And last Sunday, in twitter exchanges with two Nigerians over Bishop David Oyedepo’s declaration that he did not build Convent University with church members’ tithes, offerings or donations, it clicked.

 

We have to get the politics of religion right if we are ever going to get the religion of politics right. 

 

The obvious reason for the above statement is that our sense of ethics, or what remains of it, comes from our religious base. We have all but abandoned the ethics of our traditional African ways of life. So if the religious ethics fail, everything else will fail. The other reason is that the majority of our people take their cue from these religious leaders than all the media in the country. More people watch Bishop David Oyedepo each week than all the people who watch NTA news. 

 

So let us begin with Bishop Oyedepo’s defense against those who criticized his lifestyle and how he runs his church. “The last time the church paid my salary was December 1987,” he said. “Nobody heard it, not even the ministers in the church until 1997 and church members didn’t hear this until 2007.” 

 

On reading that, the first question that crossed my mind was, so how has Oyedepo been surviving without a salary? There were other questions like, why did it take ten years before the ministers knew? Let me leave out the evil questions like, doesn’t accountability and transparency require that the church members should know? And are we supposed to be impressed by the revelation?

 

Before we even get to the answers to the questions above, let us look at other things Bishop Oyedepo revealed. He said, “In January of 1988, my wife asked me of money for feeding and I told her I had given my salary to God. And that was the last time she ever had to ask for feeding money ‘til date.”

 

To crown it all, Oyedepo told his audience that, “Covenant University was built within seven months without any collection of any one naira tithes or offerings or donations of any kind from anywhere.” It was a direct response to those accusing him of building the university with contributions of members while setting tuition beyond the reach of an average church member.

 

Based on my interview with Pastor Tunde Bakare and Rev. Nimi Wariboko, my best guess is that the likes of Bishop David Oyedepo, Pastor Enoch A. Adeboye, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Pastor Chris Okotie, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Prophet T. B. Joshua and others have been surviving on Pentecostal opaqueness. It works because nobody around them asks any questions. People who should hold them accountable are busy worshiping them.

 

What is salary? Isn’t it that ugly thing you demand as an entitlement for the work you do? It gives a good public image to say the church does not pay you any salary when in fact the church takes care of most of your needs. These pastors also have at their disposal the ministries. In many cases, while churches may not pay these pastors, ministries do pay them. Most often, the churches do not own the ministries. Traditionally, it is the general overseers and their cronies who legally own the ministries. 

 

The average church members do not know there are demarcations between the ministries and the church. Those who are aware of such do not understand the demarcations. The ministries may handle tasks like printing the pastor’s books and selling the holy water. The ministries may own the churches’ fleets of vehicles, chains of schools and universities. Many church members would be surprised to find out that the private jet they gave as a gift to the pastor was not registered under the church’s name. If not registered directly as the property of the pastor it is registered as a property of one of the ministries owned by the pastor.

 

Now the average reaction of a church member is to say that it is not his or her business what the pastor is doing with the offerings and the tithes and the donations. They argue that what they give in time, money and materials, they give to God and not to the pastor. So, they can afford to look away. They consider their contributions to God as something spiritual that do not follow the dictates of temporal matters.

 

Such posturing sounds noble. Grand. Superior. But upon close examination, it appears hollow. It is more of an excuse not to be involved, not to accept any responsibility and not to demand accountability. Without acknowledging it, that nonchalant attitude sets the stage for the inevitable scandals that will ultimately cripple the same institutions members are trying to build with their resources.

 

The real question to ask as a follower of Jesus is, if Jesus were to attend the same church as you, would he tolerate all the gamesmanship going on there? Would the man who chased the money changers out of the temple close his eyes to all the iniquities going on in your church? Doesn’t being a Christian make you a mandatory reporter? A reporter who must not just report an abuse but is required by the law of conscience to stop it? If you see abuse and you don’t stop it, doesn’t that make you as guilty as the abuser? Doesn’t that make you an accomplice and an enabler?

 

We have to get the politics of religion right if we are ever going to get the religion of politics right.

 

If you cannot ask what Jesus would do on matters happening right inside your church, what are the chances that you will ask what Jesus would do on matters outside your church? Those who do not care where tithes from their pockets go, cannot care about where Nigeria's oil wealth, picked up from the ground, is going? It is attitudes like these that lead to the thinking, “I voted for Goodluck Jonathan but not for the PDP.”

 

Our church goers are willing to sow a seed without going back to water the seed and tend it as it grows. Yet, they are surprised at what happens to the seed - like the Winners Chapel flock who are surprised that the seed they thought they sowed towards the building of Convent University did not grow. They are surprised that actually Bishop Oyedepo built the university all by himself without a dime from anybody. Consequently, what they thought was ‘ours’ is really Oyedepo’s. 

 

Bishop David Oyedepo and other pastors like him are people nobody knows- not even their church members. They abhor transparency and accountability. They apply the principles of modern business in running their Christian empires. The structure of their empires is simple. At the head is a church under which are chains of subsidiary companies called ministries but are legally known as charities. The church itself operates like any other franchise - Starbucks, McDonald’s, or Tantalizers. Everything is about product and profit. These General Overseers/CEOs set up rubber stamp board of directors who sign off on whatever the CEO wants. Meticulously, they prepare their children to succeed them and continue the family business. 

 

Bruce Barton may have written the book about Jesus as a businessman but it is the Oyedepos who are living it. Oyedepo and his co travelers have successfully forced Jesus into the image of their world instead of turning themselves into Jesus’ image. They are the epitome of Jesus as a businessman.

 

Correct me if I’m right.

 

 

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my word

I can only say that the impact these pastors brought into africa in opening the eyes of the people is the reason the writer of this blog could have such a technic of thinking. The best thing is to live pastors to thier God, they are indeed making great impact

Study, think and reason

God knew human kind will one day need it and He gave it; free will a.k.a REASONING. The day Nigerians starts using it then maybe, just maybe they will be free from priestcraft and exploiters of frail and poor minds. The books your pastors and Bishops will discourage you from reading are; Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman, Jesus Wars by John Philip Jenkins, The Gospel of the second coming by Timothy Freke, Christianity's source by Harry L Tabony and to cap it all read "The destruction of Black Civilization" by Chancellor Williams (an eye opener for every black man/woman pushing western or middle eastern agenda). Nigerians!!!! Read, study, think and reason; its your SALVATION.

correct me if am right

correct me if am right

These Pastors are pure 419ers!

I have always been saying it that these so called Pastors: Oyedepo, Oyakhilome, Okotie, T.B Josua, Adeboye, Oritsejiofor, Adefarasin are pure 419ers.

They can only get those gullible Nigerians and further manipulate them to bring more money. This is ridiculous!

@Good or bad people must talk

You are missing the point. We are asking for accountability of the ministries be it in money or in kind. You quoted Saudi making 16.5 billion dollars but forget that their is accountability in what saudi pilgrim authorities use the resources for. Moreover the pilgrims that go to saudi are not asked to give 10% of their wealth at Saudi rather to the poor. Here we have our pastors asking the poor to even donate 10% of what they have and their is no form of accountability whatsoever.

Rudolf hits the nail on the head that Jesus would have asked the same questions on accountability as you cannot pretend to keep quiet when you see that something that does not seem right as you will be an accessory.

very true

i will like to thank the writer of this article. There are lots of poor and needy peeps arnd but the pastors live a fabulous life, jesus didn't live that his time. You dont give money anyhow to the church, need to findout what and why first.

rufoff you are right

let me correct one commentator about saudi Arabia pilgrimage and the moslems. All mosques are built by the government, not only in Saudi but all moslem countries in the middle east.So the money they make is for the people,not for individuals.Secondly, moslems go to Mecca for their pilgrimage while Christians go to Jerusalem. But these Fraudsters,like Oyedepo, Adeboye,have stopped their members from going to Jerusalem by establishing Camps,thereby denying Jerusalem huge money that would have helped Israel to maintain the temple.God will punish these pastors and their families for this atrocity.Tell me why only the orthodox churches are going to pilgrimage.

rufoff you are right

let me correct one commentator about saudi Arabia pilgrimage and the moslems. All mosques are built by the government, not only in Saudi but all moslem countries in the middle east.So the money they make is for the people,not for individuals.Secondly, moslems go to Mecca for their pilgrimage while Christians go to Jerusalem. But these Fraudsters,like Oyedepo, Adeboye,have stopped their members from going to Jerusalem by establishing Camps,thereby denying Jerusalem huge money that would have helped Israel to maintain the temple.God will punish these pastors and their families for this atrocity.Tell me why only the orthodox churches are going to pilgrimage.

Ngbede, you display ignorance

Ngbede, you display ignorance in your understanding of the word you quoted,"Touch Not My Anointed" God was referring to Israel as a nation in that passage not a priest or pastor or bishop.

What I expected of you, if you have the spirit of Christ is to weigh the truth in what the writer has written. Most of his questions and reasoning were right. Christ never lived on his followers, he never founded any money making organization.

The body of Christ needs to hold spiritual leaders accountable to their people. If nobody is asking questions, the institution you are protecting will end up being destroy and you will move to another reigning synagogue.

Lets have the type of businesses that was done to finance the mentioned businesses.

Good Or Bad People Must Talk

Jesus was a successful in his ministry but failures like the Pharisees and Sadducees went about saying he was using the power of devils.
Those who are not happy with Oyedepo's achievements are going about trying to spoil his name.
If members of Winners are not complaining that Bishop Oyadepo is chopping their money who are you to complain.
Every religious organization needs money to run its activities and members of such bodies must make it available.
Take for example the Government of Saudi Arabia make millions of Dollars yearly from Pilgrims to Mecca and Medina and yet members of the Islamic faith don't complain because they know they are performing their spiritual duties. Please read this article I discovered in a website.Click and see how much Saudi Arabia made in 2012 from pilgrims ($16.5million).
SAUDI ARABIA NETS $16.5BILLION FROM PILGRIMS IN 2012

Please read that paragraph

Please read that paragraph where Rudolf described how people like you still don't ask the right questions of your pastors or how your church is run. Even Jesus Christ will ask these questions because by not asking you are complicit to whatever evil is going on there. It's like seeing what you know is wrong but pretending not to see it thereby being an accessory.

Be careful

Pls mr rudolf be careful what u write, for God cannot be mocked, whatsoever u sow, is what u will reap.,the bible says touch not mine annointed and do my prophet no harm. Allow God to judge, because he is the only righteous judge, how can u a sinner judge another sinner?

Stop sentimental assertion

Well done Ogoo. Why shuld a commentator (9japsychology) allow himself to be blinded by religion bigotry adorn in a toga of retarded sentiment. Whatever bring Islam and Northern region into this matter must be a disease u must urgently attend to. Frustrated people like u are not ripe enough to discuss in such a forum like this.

Stop sentimental assertion

Why shuld u allow urself to be blinded by religion bigotry adorn in a toga of retarded sentiment. Whatever bring Islam and Northern region into this matter must be a disease u must urgently attend to. Frustrated people like u are not ripe enough to discuss in such a forum like this.

YOU ARE SO RIGHT, U STAND CORRECTED IN ALL YOU HAVE WRITTEN.....

I Am an observer of the planet and a true Advocater of different mediums that govern our world, like Religion, Media TV/Radio, Politics, Education, and Human Emotions. Among-st all this, religion is the most powerful and influential medium next to Media TV/Radio...religion does not bind us together, it segregates us, not only from our brothers but also from our God too. To be Honest the reason for most of this churches being successful at deceiving Nigerians is down to the fact that, Nigeria is riddled with Black magic, its crazy, it could be your neighbour, mother, father, brother, sister that will or is trying to do juju to you and it could be for any reason, hence why the influx of so many people towards those spiritual churches, looking for deliverance, instead they become victims of corruption...Only God Knows Best.

good thinking

it is still survival of the fittest and the church is not an exception. my take is that they are cowards who hide under the church or ministry to display business theories and strategies, instead of coming to the battleground.
if only their followers knows 'nobody really cares about you"
great write up.

@ Bad Belle Rudolf

Tribalists like you will probably not attend a Church pastored by an Igbo man. Check the population of the mega-Churches and you can tell why Igbos are not tribalistic. That's beside the point anyway. Your blindness is anchored in ignorance of the bible. Know the truth and it shall set you free. The essence of tent-making is for subsistence so as not to be a burden to the poor supporters of the Church. Are we dealing with the issue of greed, ego and insatiable appetite for material gains. The originator of tent-making, Paul, shared the same or even lower economic status with the members he pastored.

Costco

I can best describe the Church as a Members-Club, just like Costco super store in US. If Costco depends on the members for its daily business, no branch can claim independence as long as its proceeds come from the same members created by the parent body and friends who stop by once in a while. It is the modern day Church "Super Stars'" subtle way of running "their empires." It has nothing to do with Church. The litmus test is " what would Jesus do?" Better them than me!

Well done

Bravo my guy. Well written to the core, to the bone to all corners and all angles.

Freedom At Last!

Oga Rudolf, well done! Thou shall not tire until you liberate millions of Nigerians under the bondage of Oyedepos, Adeboyes, T. B. Joshuas et al, through the mighty sword of your pen.
But be prepared for the missile attacks from the same set of people that you're fighting hard to set free. Ultimately, they shall be free indeed.

100% correct on the

100% correct on the characterization of some pastors. But you need to be clear on 'Christ as a Businessman'. While it may be true that sound business principles can be seen in the life of Jesus, the title of the write-up can be misleading.

My worry is...

Jesus Christ once said that it will be easier for camels to pass through the eye of a needle than for rich men to enter into the kingdom of God. May be a figure of speech or parable, but I choose to err on the side of caution.

RE: BAD BELLE Rudolf

Must this discussion degenerate to tribalism? Dele, one would think you are enlightened enough to place matters in proper perspectives. This is a step down, in my opinion. Do not let hatred rule over your intellect. Good day!

Still on the matter

“Everyone who says he needs a private jet to make important appointments is a liar. They need it for their ego. Name me one of them busier than I am who owns more US corporations than I do”- Warren Buffet, No. 2 richest American and one of the world’s largest private jet manufacturer… Buffet, who was once the richest man in the world, does not even own a jet as he often flies in commercial aircraft! He is also reported to have said "I travel constantly across the US and the world in commercial jetliners, live in the same house since the 70s, still buy $9 ties and $75 suits and still drive my 22 year old immaculately maintained Lincoln". #foodforthought#

watch your spirit, it was boozed by so much drink

Rudolf, it is high time you gave your time to writing a book that helps humanity than a contribution that retards humanity. If you have vowed to be an open occultist, then start not from SR.The using of the name Jesus, and dragging it from the Islamic library at the northern nation of Nigeria, pays you no political attention you advertise yourself for on SR

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Well Done, my Guy

This's a great article. I just hope those concerned would also read this.

Well done!

Leave Christ Out of This Please

The activities of most church leaders today in Nigeria is an outgrowth of government's insensitivity and failure. Christianity was brought to Nigeria from Britain but today in BRITAIN ,all churches are charity organisations.
Here in the UK am a 'worker' in a branch of church that has its root in Nigeria. When I was struggling with my rent as a student, my church paid for three months(£750). When I was going back home after my study in the university, I was given £300 by my church to supplement my flight cost.
The Christ I read about in the Bible was focused on His mission of salvation and not on any business.
I believe it is high time government began to look into the activities of churches in Nigeria in order to save the name of Christ.

Archbishop na miliki...

...Poopu na enjoyment, Imamu na gbaladun, OFASEEA na PRIVATE JET. The SHUFFERING and SHMILING is getting seriously worse, and Middle Eastern gods have been chased out from the MegaChurch by American MegaBucks. Remember Benson Idahosa's fake cowboy hat and Texas accent? His mugus dreamed of GREEN CARDS in Heaven ("God's Own Country"). But wake up, today America is in decline, and China will rule the world very soon. Small time, we go see RCCG change to RCCC--The Redeemed Chinese Church of Confucius! Chop with chopsticks in Paradise!!!

I am happy this conversation

I am happy this conversation is taking place among us. We have been too silent in the discourse of our issues. There is also a good article I found in www.diasporascope.com that I think was very informative too.

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