Church Mafia…Forget About It?

the-sopranos-courtesy-hbo.jpg

The picture above is a snapshot of some of the key characters in HBO’s award winning series “The Sopranos” – a drama series about the mafia. We see Tony Soprano and a few of his “enforcers” (or captains).

If you’re a member of a black mega church today, then you might as well substitute these characters with pictures of your Pastor, Elders, Ministers, and Deacons. They too take on the role of “enforcers” to help the “boss” keep you in line.

To the outsider, it’s absurd to even try to parallel life in the mafia with life in the mega church today. If you’ve “escaped” a mega church, then you know all to well how these two entities can be confused with one another. It may not sound polite to say, but the reality is this: the leadership in most mega churches operate like the mafia.

Take a look at a few of the parallels:

 

The Leadership

These days, there is a single authority in the church – and it’s not Jesus Christ. The Pastor has become the lone leader. Just like the mafia boss, he rules from the top down – not the bottom up.

He doesn’t like independent thought or dissension. He doesn’t like to speak with you directly – he’ll send an emissary to tell you if he’s pleased or dissatisfied with your work.

He doesn’t want to have his fingerprints on any “controversial” decisions, so he assigns some of his “captains” (or Elders, Ministers, or Deacons) as decision makers to insulate himself from any fallout – and his “captains” will gladly fall on their swords on his behalf.

 

The Oath of Loyalty

In the mafia, it’s called the omerta’. In the church, it’s called “submitting to authority” or “submitting to your covering”. Either way, it’s all the same – there is both an implied and expressly sanctioned code of silence. In the mafia, “made men” (or loyal members who ascend to leadership) swear allegiance to the boss and swiftly punish anyone that dares to speak of what happens behind closed doors.

In the church, Deacons or Ministers in training (or loyal members who are about to ascend to leadership) often swear that same allegiance and oath of silence. Secrecy and confidentiality is taught and expected.

When I was in training for ordained leadership, I was expressly told “don’t share any of this with your wife”, or “this is not pillow talk, this is highly confidential information”. Our names were kept confidential and we met in private. We were even told to directly deny if someone inquired about our participation in the training programs.

You would think we were becoming Masons or something similar. Of course, this runs completely counter to scripture (John 7:4):

“For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”

Compensation

Mafia captains are required to share a percentage of their “spoils” (money they collect by “taxing” local business for protection) with the boss.

Church leaders (and members) are intimidated into paying tithes, offerings, love offerings, first fruit and any other contrived “offering” to the “man of God” to show your appreciation to him for his “work in the Lord”.

Leaders are chosen based on their giving records. Consistent givers are rewarded with luncheons and lapel pins.

 

Promotion

Mafia bosses reward their potential captains with promotion after witnessing the potential’s ability to “earn” and solve problems.

Pastors promote those in ministry for many of the same reasons. If you’re a good giver, then you’ll be a good deacon or minister. If you can keep “problems” away from the pastor, then you’re marked for promotion.

Many church leaders will throw each other “under the bus” if they think that the pastor will reward their loyalty. I’ve know many minstry leaders in mega churches who were promoted when they exposed someone who may not be “towing the company line” like they would do if they were in that same position.

 

“You’re Dead To Me”!

In the mafia, dissenters are considered enemies and disposed of at the word of the boss. In fact, they are never spoken of again, almost as though they never existed.

In the church, if you leave the fellowship, you are officially dead. If you leave some of your family behind, then they are encouraged to shun you. “The devil is using them” and “they’re being swayed by outside influence” they’re told. You’re even ridiculed for leaving your “covering” (learn more about the faux “spiritual father” and “covering” scam).

Before I fled the plantation, there had been several leaders who left before me. One even formed his own church and was ordained as a Pastor. My ministry colleagues and I were expressly forbidden to attend the ordination service of our former colleague – if we went then we would be sat down…no questions asked.

One of us defied the order and attended the ordination in support of our friend. He was summarily sat down without so much as a meeting from the boss – he left the assembly soon after.

His attempts to reach out to some of our ministry colleagues were thwarted and rebuffed. As I’ve said on previous posts, I’ve had to repent to the Lord for such blatant foolishness – especially in this regard.

 

Extravagant Lifestyles

Mafia bosses display their wealth in order to encourage their captains to “earn” (i.e extort) more so that they too can live like the boss. Church bosses display their wealth to “brag on God” and show you that their pyramid schemes actually work and God is blessing them with Bentley’s, mansions, jewelry, etc.

The pastor uses his wealth just like the mafia boss does – to encourage our lust of the flesh so that we’ll do what it takes to live the same lifestyle.

————————————————————————————-

This is just a short list of similarities. If you’re a former mega churcher, then I’m sure you could go deeper (feel free to comment if you’d like to expose your former boss to the world). This simply illustrates how much more prayer is needed in order for the people of God to know what the wolves look like, recognize their games, and avoid them at all costs.

Paul exhorted the elders whom he sent to preach the Gospel to remember the humilty with which he ministered – and that he didn’t preach to them for money or things. He reminded them that they were to guard against the wolves that would seek to destroy the faithful, and he commended them to the grace of God.

25“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about (A)preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.

 26“Therefore, I testify to you this day that (B)I am innocent of the blood of all men.

 27“For I (C)did not shrink from declaring to you the whole (D)purpose of God.

 28“Be on guard for yourselves and for all (E)the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd (F)the church of God which (G)He purchased with His own blood.

 29“I know that after my departure (H)savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing (I)the flock;

 30and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away (J)the disciples after them.

 31“Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of (K)three years I did not cease to admonish each one (L)with tears.

 32“And now I (M)commend you to God and to (N)the word of His grace, which is able to (O)build you up and to give you (P)the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

 33(Q)I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes.

 34“You yourselves know that (R)these hands ministered to my own needs and to the (S)men who were with me.

 35“In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

 36When he had said these things, he (T)knelt down and prayed with them all. (Acts 20:25-36)

Seek God and His righteousness. Read the bible. Study what you don’t understand, and fellowship with a bible-based assembly (I know it’s tough, but they are out there). There’s so much more work that has to be done.

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11 Responses to “Church Mafia…Forget About It?”


  1. 1 dupednomore March 17, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    This posting hit so close to home that I almost showed my wife (she is still in the Matrix). The devisive tools used to put fear and guilt into your heart for not giving to God is just wrong. I thank God for opening my eyes to this madness and surrounding me with folks who are supporting me during my escape planning from the plantation. Since I can’t leave without my family, I’ll suffer in silence.
    In the mean time……There will be no more “First Fruit” offering and “Love” offering and “Tithing”. Scripture has clearly pointed out to me that if you read the entire Book of Malachi, you’ll be suprised to learn that it’s miss represented by pimps all the time. Maybe I’ll bring in a some livestock and vegetables from my funny farm next Sunday to make my point.

  2. 2 FinallyFree March 17, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    As I am reading this, – I really have no words to express what I’m feeling. Wow! were we all apart of the exact same church.? I know that is not possible but there are so many eerie similarities. How in the world did I get caught up in
    such mess? I’ve been reading quite a few of the blogs lately. Another good one is Charismania.wordpress.com that details the bloggers experiences.

    How is everyone coming out of this mess finding a new church.
    I know I can’t go back to what I came from but I can’t go back to what I grew up with.

    Is anyone out there doing church right and what is the right way?

  3. 3 Speaking Truth March 17, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    @ DNM –

    You sound pretty worked up. I know, I was pretty steamed too – especially when I looked back on how I willingly submitted to my former pimp who also happend to act like a mafia boss (and still does, from what I hear).

    If you’ve got a spouse that’s still in the “matrix”, you’ve got to pray for them and cover them in love while God reveals His truth to them.

    They’ll resent you if you try to get them to see “your” point of view – you’ve got to seek the Lord on their behalf so that they’ll see His point of view. Keep praying – as Otis Reading said “a change is gonna come…”

    @ FinallyFree –

    Welcome. Please feel free to come again – and comment on what you see. My former pimp/mafia boss is Andre Landers of New Birth South in Hampton, GA (a “spiritual son of Eddile Long). When I was on the plantation, I willfully closed my eyes to the doctrinal murder that I saw on a regular basis.

    Now that I’m free, my clarity has returned and God is leading me completely. I’m in no hurry to find a new assembly, especially since I’m dissecting the bible for myself (although I’ve visited a few assemblies since I left several months ago). I’d be content wandering from assembly to assembly for the rest of my life – as long as God directs me.

    You can’t swing a dead cat in Atlanta without hitting a pimp, pimp-in-training, or a wanna be pimp. If you step off the beaten path you’ll stumble across a few bible based churches with genuinly earnest pastors.

    Check my blog roll as I’ll add new “nomads” from time to time. Don’t be afraid to put your feet to the street and just walk in a few non-descript assemblies on a Sunday morning. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

    I’m praying your strength in the Lord…

  4. 4 Blessed March 18, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I’m surprised you actually exposed who your former pastor is. I’m still afraid to totally out my former pastor for fear of the backlash. Plus, people I dearly love still attend the church and are under the spell, still drink the kool-aid, etc.

    I would classify my former pastor more as a minor mafia boss because his church has never been able to sustain large numbers. However, he runs in the same crowds as the mega bosses.

  5. 5 Speaking Truth March 18, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Blessed –

    Thanks for stopping by – I’m glad that the Lord led you here.

    It is my duty to expose doctrinal murder wherever it occurs – even at my former church. I still have friends stuck on the plantation, and right now they don’t want to hear what I have to say (I wouldn’t have wanted to hear me in the past either), but that doesn’t negate my mandate to say it.

    If we don’t call these pimps by name, then we’re sanctioning what they’re doing and letting others walk into a trap that they may not be aware of. I use this analogy with others still stuck in the system: if a child molester was living next door, would you be content just to keep your kids away or would you sound the alarm so that NO ONE let’s their kids play at his house? That seems to make one think.

    Stop by as often as the Lord leads you to…I’m praying for your continued stength in the Lord, and that your loved ones are exposed to God’s truth and will “come back to themselves”.

  6. 6 charismania March 18, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Wow…

    We haven’t been doing as much with our blog lately, so I didn’t see your comment there until just now. But I am amazed at your site and this article in particular. This was EXACTLY our experience!

    And you know, this isn’t just a black thing. Our church was probably a little more than half white, and our former pastor is white. We’re white. (One of the reasons we were attracted to this church in the first place is because it seemed more like what heaven will be like, with people from all ethnicities and backgrounds worshipping together.)

    This is a “charismatic” thing, really. It goes back to when Spirit-filled churches got infected with the leaven of the “Prosperity Gospel.” That’s when the pimping began in full force.

    Your site’s excellent. Thanks!

  7. 7 gcmwatch March 19, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    IST, even though I have never been under the direct bondage of a pimp, I have certainly seen it in action and concur with what you have written. Its a sad, sad deceptive thing and it makes me angry that the knuckleheads are being celebrated as “mendovegawd”.

    Good looking out for the sheep.

    PS, I agree with you on the name calling. If people are not aware of exactly who can potentionally pimp them, then the whole point of talking about it is useless.

  8. 9 Speaking Truth March 21, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for stopping by, Alan.

    I actually read your article and left a comment.

    I wrote this post as an expansion of my comment to you – and to explore the church mafia here in the states (sorry I forgot to give you the “hat tip” 🙂 ).

    Whether it’s “across the pond” or in our own backyard, the church mafia phenomenon is keeping hundreds of thousands of people in unnecessary bondage.

    I pray that you continue being the Light in the UK!

  9. 10 Alan Higgins March 21, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    So you did. Yeah we got a few pimps over here in the UK too. Isnt it good to be free from all of that? Stay blessed

    Alan

  10. 11 Seekingod1st December 3, 2008 at 10:26 am

    I agree with a lot of what is being said. I think it is a little unfair to just single out a MEGA church. Unfair to the reader that is…I wouldn’t want someone to think that just because their chruch isn’t “mega” it isn’t happening. I attended a church was fairly small but still saw a lot of what was stated above. My pastor drove the fancy cars and even bragged about the 1200 dollar car payments from the “stage”. He wasn’t prepared for service and often missed bible study altogether. We introduced the man of God every Sunday and was expected to stand and clap when ever he entered a room. We even had some who would interupt what was going on to scream his name and let everyone know he had arrived!! So it is happening in churches across the world. We must continue to pray and seek God because their are many wolves in sheep clothing that are fleecing God’s people.


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