Defending the fake

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WKYC reports…

“The handcuffs were real, the sheriff’s deputies were real, and the reactions from church goers? Those were real, too, because they had no idea it was all staged.

What most people don’t realize is the arrests of their pastors are skits — part of a community project that several churches in the Akron community have begun called “Defending the Faith.”

To raise awareness, they teamed up with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and set up staged arrests of several area pastors. The congregations had no idea, and now the Sheriff’s Office is taking a lot of criticism after the videos went viral.

“You see people crying in the audience,” sheriff’s Sgt. Samantha Walker said. “They’re not believing this is happening to their pastor. Some of the looks the audience was giving us — I’ve never been so afraid in church in my life.”

Walker was one of the officers making the fake arrest look as real as possible, which is exactly what the Rev. Melford Elliott wanted at Greater Bethel Baptist Church.

“It looked really real, and I was kind of glad,” Elliott said.

He’s glad it’s getting the word out for the community project “Defending the Faith,” but now that the Summit County sheriff’s office is taking some heat, they’re all defending their actions.

“Hindsight’s always 20-20,” Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry said. “We were proud to be a part of it. I just wish everyone knew it was at their request.”

Those requests are still coming in though. Other pastors in the area see this as an effective way to reach the community, and they’re not backing down.

“This is an impactful and exciting way to present the ministry,” the Rev. David Parker said. “It’s thinking out of the box, and that’s what we need. So, it’s fantastic. It’s got everybody talking.”

All that talk is why the sheriff and the pastors wanted to set the record straight. There’s been a lot of concern from the community, some pastors’ wives, and even congregations in other states.

They’re already planning other “arrests,” but with a few minor adjustments, so people know it’s staged. They plan to hand out flyers while it’s happening to promote the main theatrical event for “Defending the Faith” set for March 22 at the Akron Civic Theater.



2 thoughts on “Defending the fake

  1. Interesting comment. I think its okay for a minister to live off offerings. But, it would be revolutionary if they all just did work. Ironically, the ministers with the biggest salary packages do the least work. But, it’s like that in the real world too.

    But this arrest idea was stupid. For many different reasons. The longer you think about it, the more reasons you can come up with.
    So, i tend to agree with you now. Pretty sad that a minister gets money to sit around and dream up bad ideas likes this.
    Maybe he should have stayed under arrest. Preachers just love being in front of a camera these days.


  2. Aw man, here I was getting excited that someone was finally throwing all these crooked preachers in jail. 😉 Hey don’t get mad at me for saying that, it was just a skit. lol… Seriously though, I guess I get the idea… however, if a “church” embraces the 501C3 tax status, then they are the government’s puppet anyway (having already agreed to a certain level of censorship of their speech), so if they violate the rules – just remember it was their own choice to make themselves a slave of the world instead of the friend of Jesus. I really think this is primarily a stunt to keep butts in the pews and to manipulate congregants to think this is what “defending the faith” is all about (protecting status-quo religion). Don’t get me wrong; this is America and, as Americans, we have the right to gather freely any way we like to worship God and I do think those rights are worthy of defending, but that really is a separate issue from “defending the faith” (not to mention that “status-quo religion is NOT what the Bible defines as the Church either). This is a mixed message by religious professionals to promote pastor worship and church idolatry (at its core). True believers understand that our fellowship in Christ is NOT dependent on fancy gathering places with static liturgies and salaried preachers – nor does it require (in the least) such things to exist and thrive! Jesus said in John 10 that true pastors (shepherds; same word in the Greek) do not do so for a paycheck anyway, so maybe they ought to be arrested after all for violating the Lord’s command.

    John 10:11-13 (MSG) – “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man (hireling) is not a real shepherd (a.k.a. pastor). The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.

    I can accept that not all men who occupy the title of “pastor” are necessarily “in it for the money” (as negative as that sounds), but I am not merely talking about (nor is the Bible merely talking about) greed. The biblical sense of the term pastor is a caregiver who serves AMONG God’s people – NOT over them. This is not a “office” nor a title. It is a functionary gift of God given to many people in the body of Christ. It has NOTHING to do with running a church organization and it is NOT a profession. John 10 is making reference to a “hireling”. This is not actually a bad word. It just means “someone who takes a paycheck”. I’m a hireling. I do a job every day for a paycheck. But Jesus makes the distinction between that and a pastor (i.e. shepherd); for they are NOT the same thing! The gift of pastor is something that a person submits to because they are obedient to Christ and because they genuinely love God’s people. They serve in this way REGARDLESS of any hope of payment for it, for true shepherds know that this opportunity to serve the Lord and His body is a calling. I’ve known a number of pastors who were good people, but I heard them say from their own mouths that if they were not receiving a paycheck for it, they could not continue to pastor. As much I think they were nice people, they were NOT true pastors and they were deceived!

    I’ve seen too many of these types and they do run when a “wolf” comes after the sheep. Someone might logically ask the question, why would a hired hand run when a wolf comes? If he’s getting paid to protect sheep from wolves, why would he run and thus forfeit his paycheck? But that’s not really the point here… I would think of this in terms of a pastor (any pastor) who would give up his sense of responsibility to God’s people (something he himself has asserted that God called him to) simply because he cannot afford it without the paycheck. In this sense, wolves are more frightening to him than God who called him to protect his brothers and sisters from them – because money is the factor that will cause him to refrain from laying down his life for others. Some might say, “Yeah, but as long as he is willing to lay down his life, then what’s the problem with him receiving a paycheck?” I would say, “Why don’t you ask the Lord about that… He’s the one who made the statement.” Jesus also said TO THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF HIS DAY that you cannot serve both God and money (mammon). It is wholly inconsistent for a Christian to believe that serving God is both a compulsion of love or divine calling and also a profession. You can’t serve God… and then also think that serving God is something you do for a paycheck. Think about the sense of entitlement here? If a person believes that they deserve to paid for serving God and/or that they do so because they are getting paid, then isn’t it true that the money is ultimately their master in this paradigm? Jesus seemed to think so. We know from Scripture that the religious leaders loved money and they were very offended when this 30-something year old dude comes along and says, “Look boys, either you serve God or you serve for money, there is no mixing of the two. One or the other is your Master.” This is not an easy thing to accept and many pastors get offended when someone highlights the words of Jesus in this regard (not to mention the example of every apostle in Scripture; none of whom served God for money).

    I know of very few “pastors” who will quickly acknowledge the historical fact that first (and most second) century pastors did not do so for a paycheck. This was a concept that entered later and was influenced by pagan religions. Keep in mind also that when we use the word pastor, we have to excuse from our thinking this notion of an “office of ministry” that is present within some religious organization. This is NOT what a pastor it. Any one of God’s people may occupy this gift and minister it as the Holy Spirit so leads. Ephesians 4 does NOT talk anywhere about offices or churches; Rather it describes this as a gift (one of many) given TO THE BODY OF CHRIST (for that is what the biblical word “Church” actually refers to). There were no church organizations present in the first century.

    All of that to come back to the subject of these so-called pastors pretending to get arrested. It’s foolishness. If any of them take a paycheck for their so-called pastoring, they are not acting as true pastors at all – they are dancing the dance of a hireling and they are showing themselves to be servants of mammon rather than God alone. If they take issue with me on this, then I challenge them with this proposal: Why not resign your position and paycheck (and your 501C3 government corporate status) and then continue to serve? Just do it! If you’re truly called and you are being obedient to God, then do what He says and resign the profession and do what you were called to do. If God’s people decide of their own free will to support you without any manipulation on your part, then you ought to be able to trust God only for your provision….. or hey, why not get a job like everyone else. I am sick of the excuse that the pastor has too much responsibility to have time for a secular profession. This is nonsense. I too have a call from God and a responsibility to that call. I too have a passion to serve my friend Jesus because I love the Lord with all my heart. I run a website (call it a “ministry” if you want) and spend a lot of hours writing and responding to hundreds of emails every day, but I also work a full time job and I take no money for the service I do for the Lord. I don’t even ask for donations. God meets EVERY need I have! No one will ever be able to dangle the paycheck in front me to manipulate what I speak about or disrupt what God has called me to because I’m not doing any of it for the money! And I’m not even claiming to be a pastor. I’m not a pastor. And neither are most “pastors” I dare say! Paul was an apostle of Jesus. He traveled the world, preaching the Gospel. He discipled many. He mentored others. He equipped ministers. And he wrote 13 books of the New Testament…. AND HELD A FULL TIME SECULAR JOB TO BOOT!!! He also suffered persecution, imprisonment, hunger, poverty and illness on many occasions.

    Don’t tell me, dear professional pastor friend, that you can’t serve God full time and not also work a job. If I hold up your example next to Paul’s, how do you think you’ll hold up? Why not get out of your mind that you are supposed to be the super hero “official” Christian that rules over the group and start sharing the load. Get yourself out of the spotlight and serve. Flee your stupid titles (stop putting “pastor” in front of your name and talking about your Bible College degrees – who cares)! Jesus told you not to do that too!

    Matthew 23:5-12 – Everything they (the religious leaders) do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels for everyone to see. They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers. But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. Don’t call anyone on earth your father (i.e. “spiritual father”). All of you have the same Father in heaven. None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader. Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.

    Luke 22:25-27 – Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

    Mister professional pastor dude, stop elevating yourself on a platform and pulpit and acting like the CEO of a corporation and how about just learn to be a brother among the brothers. Chances are, despite your good intentions, the position you’re currently has “changed” you. It has developed a certain level of spiritual arrogance in you; an elite mentality (even if subtly). I know many of you sincerely have good intentions and love the Lord (and I don’t doubt that God has used you in good ways because God Himself is good, cares for His people, and is also long-suffering with us though we stumble in error at times), but now THINK about what you are doing (you have no more excuse to play ignorance), THINK about what the Lord has called you to obey, and THINK about those you believe you have been called to serve and whom you say you love! Are you too high and mighty to repent of the professionalism error you have embraced? Can you even consider the challenge I offered? And, by all means, don’t just take my word for it – observe the text you presume to preach from each week! Observe the example of those apostles who went before in Scripture and taught you how to live among the saints! Can you even find, in any of those pages of that Bible you tout on Sunday, some character we might consider to be a “professional pastor” who performs sermons in a pulpit week after week and collects tithes for it? Even those that Paul talked about having a “right” to received gifts of the people (to provide for their immediate needs of food and clothing), those were itinerant workers who traveled to preach the Gospel – they were not fat cats with fancy offices in some religious institution, driving nice cars and taking vacations in the name of “ministry conferences” on the church dime. They didn’t collect paychecks; only freewill offerings (and I doubt they were ever the ones passing the plate themselves). Virtually every reference to “offerings” in the New Testament were for the relief of impoverished saints in other cities, NOT for the preachers in the group.

    If you are called by God, then demonstrate the fruit that reveals such! That’s all I’m asking. Otherwise, I say let the police come lock you up if they want. You are illegitimate in so many ways that I have no interest in hearing the excuses any more… and believe me, this is shared from a heart of love. I want to see the Body of Christ behave the way it should. The world has seen enough religion to choke it to death. Let’s see a genuine manifestation of Christ through His body now!!!


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