National crisis: State of the nation is state of the church


THE current confusion on the political front epitomised by confused and confusing opposition  parties, a clueless ruling party  as well as a reactionary civil society  presents an opportunity for the church in its multiple form to make a difference in the nation.

The major challenge is that most of the confusion found in the nation is also found in some sectors of the church.

I am particularly pained that while the prosperity gospel  is indeed biblical, it has been blown out of proportion and some churches operate as if they are private companies run by young, flamboyant spiritual sycophants more concerned  about image  and material accumulation.

Instead of focusing on preaching the gospel, feeding the hungry and addressing issues of social and economic justice, many churches, especially some fly-by-night churches exist solely to feed the wallets and egos of men of God, some of whom are not accountable to anybody in any way.

I say this with the utmost respect for most churches as it’s only a few that spoil it for the many.

This  again is not to ignore the positive contributions of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Catholic Church through the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Adventists through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency as well as Christian organisations such as Christian Care, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, World Vision, Lutheran Development Services, Christian Alliance and Habakkuk Trust, but surely a lot of today’s sugar-coated Christianity is actually materialism, spiritualism, commodification and commercialisation of the gospel.

The church needs to take the lead in addressing the social and economic challenges besetting the nation through advocacy and development initiatives which deal with the root cause of poverty and structural injustice manifesting itself through crime, prostitution, poverty, inequality  and substance abuse.

It is not enough for the church to bury the dead, matrimonise those who are in love and visit the sick, but the church has to take the lead in addressing the causal factors and the roots of these ills. It is not enough just to condemn prostitution and teenage alcohol abuse without offering solutions to these problems.

The church also has a unique role in building a new breed  of leaders and citizens. The current crop of political leaders from either side of the political divide has failed and it is time we saw churches in their diversity producing capable and visionary leaders.

Part of the problem is that the church is saddled with the Robert Martin Gumburas and false prophets who have reduced the church to a glorified “soap opera”  superintended by superhuman “men of God” who demand more than they give to their followers.

The number of aimless dead drunk teenagers on the streets of Bulawayo and the number of so-called prostitutes and street children is evidence that we are not doing enough as churches besides promoting “conference Christianity” epitomised  by church hoppers moving from one church to the other looking for the next miracle and the next man of God.

Many of today’s fired up Christians are obsessed with themselves and the pursuit of money and miracles.

Pastor  Collin  Nyathi described  these people as spiritual tourists. In many respects most of us as Pentecostal churches are just exchanging believers through inter-church migration and making little impact on the lost and “wounded”.

The state of Zimbabwe is a reflection of the state of the church or parts of the church.

I hasten to add there are men and women from the Pentecostal world who have made a huge difference in the country and such men and women include Goodwill Shana who made it into the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Reverend  Geofrey Mkhwananzi, Ken Haskins, Trust  Sinjoki Kenneth Chirimuuta, Bishop Shenk, Albert Ndlovu, Bothwell Phiri, Ray Motsi, the Nethas, Everson Ndlovu and many others I may not know or who may not want to be known.

The contribution of Catholics, Lutherans and Adventists has been phenomenal especially in building schools and clinics. There are too many fly-by-night church leaders who see giving to the poor as a once off conscience-cleansing, public relations event.

I fear for the next generation of Christian leaders who are more concerned about making a name and making money and not making a difference.

 Dumisani Nkomo is a political commentator and chief executive officer of the Habakkuk Trust. He writes in his personal capacity.