Lifestyles of the Rich and the Churchy?

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Churchy? I was the transportation coordinator several years back for the late Bishop G. E. Patterson in the late 90’s and early in this decade. During that time it was my responsibility to coordinate the safe arrival of Bishop Patterson’s guests. Whether these were household names, or just those who where those that were endeared to Bishop Patterson that few others knew. I can say that I have met most of the big names on the Christian Circuit during this time. Bishop Patterson was such a good man that he spent hours and many dollars to make sure that his guests were treated with respect and dignity. I have shared the car with most of the notable names in ministry, and I did it for a word that is seldom used in Christiandom.. I did it for free!

I did well enough in the car business at that time that I didn’t need to solicit a salary from my pastor. These experiences helped me as a preacher because to see that those who names were up in lights are just people like we are. This helped me many times because I said if he can do it so can I. I found out that many of them had issues just like the rest of us. Can you imagine my surprise that one of the biggest names in Christiandom, stutters greatly in regular conversation, but speaks like a oratorical whiz in the pulpit? It was definitely sobering and encouraging to see that these people where not those who where from another planet.

Well all of that was not the purpose of my post. I will now drop off the mail that I intended to leave initially. I did notice a trend that was quite disturbing. Bishop Patterson was always known as a giving and a nice person, and believe me people took advantage of that. I remember him putting a young preacher up in the Peabody who got offended when I drove a new Honda Passport to drive him from the Peabody to the church, which was a distance of 1.5 to 2 miles. His response to me was where is the limo?

Now this guy is in his early 30’s and nobody but those of us from church even knew who he was. Is this the humility that is spoken of in the Word of God? We picked this guy up for all 5 days of Soul Winners Conference and he was a pain each night. Now when he went back home, I guarantee that he was not getting picked up in limos. I remembered a noted female evangelist who spurned 2 sisters that missed the shuttle to church from riding in the limo with her for 2 blocks. Where are our hearts?

Bishop Patterson hardly had the time to do much with his schedule, but when he saw the limo bill from the first several nights of the conference, he hit the ceiling. It was astronomical. I went to Bud Davis Cadillac and on my reputation in the car business alone (Many years in the business) with the grace of God they provided me with usage of 10 Caddies for free. I signed one piece of paper and I got these vehicles then with my team of drivers. Do you not know that there were guests complaining about being driven 2 blocks in a Cadillac? Did I miss the premier of the Lifestyles of the Rich and the Churchy?

Where are those who are supposed to be selfless? I saw Bishop Paul Morton as humbly as anyone has ever seen tell me look man it’s late and I know those limos are costing you, so I can ride to the hotel in the back seat of my friend’s car. Now here is a man that has a notable work that is willing to take a back seat, and yet I have a pretty boy 30 year old preacher of a church with 300 folks that can’t ride for 2 blocks unless it was in a limo! The limo bill was $900 per car per day, and initially we ran several limos. I do mean several! Well after Bishop Patterson saw this bill it was over!

When you see these huge Christian Conferences don’t think that the conference hosts are leaving with budging pockets. The overhead alone with honorariums, plane tickets, and crazy Perrier Water requests chilled at only 57 degrees make it nearly impossible to keep pulling a major conference off without going in the hole. Have we gotten caught up in some kind of Lifestyles of the Rich and Churchy reality show unaware? Saints where is our compassion and our humility? I once saw a consecration service where a procession of 100-150 Bishops where to walk in. In their path was an old lady in a wheel chair, and I watched as not a one stopped to acknowledge her or pray for her! Church Folks where are we going?

Can you see how some of the world gets turned off when we go into our Lifestyles of the Rich and Churchy mode? I am not a basher of the church, but I will pull the church’s coattails when needed! Let’s stop the green/blue room, walk of the stars nonsense in the Halls of Faith! The worst witness in the world is for you to be a world renown preacher that turns people away from the faith with your snobbery!

Earnestly Contending for the Faith,
Pastor Stephen F. Smith