War over AFM finances
30 March 2018
THE Apostolic Faith Mission is at war ahead of elections to choose the vast church’s leadership this year.
Accusations and counter-accusations have been made in recent months and things seem to be escalating as elections draw closer.
One area that has not been explored publicly is how finances are a key component of the current battles.
We reproduce the document that proposes equal earnings for pastors countrywide.
This is aimed at avoiding a situation where those in popular urban centers earn enough to buy houses and cars while those in poorer areas struggle to even pay fees for their children.
Below is the document in full:
- This paper sets out to enunciate the reasons why we believe our church AFM in Zimbabwe has lost compass and has been overtaken by individuals whose motives and objectives are self-serving.
- It is a clarion call to the Elders of this great Pentecostal movement to take their rightful place and bring the Church back on course. For too long the Elders of this church have been quiet while watching God fearing saints being coerced and manipulated out of their wealth, by scheming preachers with sweet tongues.
- The greatest concern is that gone are the days of evangelism in the church, we last heard of AFM crusades during the days of the late Rev Masiyambiri and the late great general of God Rev Chiweshe, since then the repentance of sinners is no longer a priority of the church but rather the welfare of the Pastor. All we now hear of is the gospel of “Bata Mota Yako”. What happened to the four square gospel preached by John G Lake. Sin is no longer being rebuked in the church.
- The Apostolic Faith Mission has lost its missional focus and slowly degenerated into multiple mini ministries within the church.
- The Spirit of the Living God is agonisingly calling us out to stop this worldly focus on material things which will perish together with the world itself.
- We believe the church has lost its focus due to loose and poor governance systems that have allowed all and sundry to do as they please with impunity.
- The church has out grown its systems and is holding on to out-dated systems that have been taken advantage of by selfish individuals instead of jealously guarding the mandate of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ which made this church into what it is today.
- We can’t entirely blame those self-serving individuals that have taken advantage of our poor systems but we should rather take part of the blame as Elders because we never erected the fence in the first place.
- We ask the question of whether this is the heritage you would like to leave to your children
- In these last days God has stirred up a revolution which is going to start with the AFM and sweep across a number of denominations.
- If you are a leader of this church we ask you to pray and hear from God for yourself.
- Let it not be said the Church perished in our time and in our hands of leadership.
- We will highlight here only three areas that are crying out loudly as we explain why the AFM in Zimbabwe church must reform. These being
- Conflict resolution
- Resource Allocation
- Corporate Governance in the church
REFORM IMPERATIVES – WHY SHOULD AFM REFORM
- CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND JUSTICE DELIVERY
- The Executive Cannot Deliver Credible and Impartial Judgements
- The current scenario where the Apostolic Council members are expected to preside over cases of dispute or discipline is in vain. The Overseers who preside over cases are generally compromised since the next case might be from his Province and another Overseer will have to preside, such an Overseer is compromised from the beginning.
- Overseers can choose to ignore determinations made with impunity and currently there is on social media an Overseer claiming on the pulpit that he is not subject to National authorities.
- The infamous audio clip of our President and one of Pastors reflected that there are many disciplinary cases that were not seeing the light of day including the overseas escapades of the said pastor. This highlights the injustice within our system as some cases of discipline are tried and judged while others are swept under the carpet. Those whose cases are tried and judged feel unjustly treated as they would be aware of other cases that were never tried at the discretion of the Executive
- Those that have gone to court in the secular world will always contend that they did not get justice within the church system. While the majority of church members are never happy when the church disputes are put in the public domain like the High Court or Labour Court. There have been many labour cases in which the Church has been taken to task by disgruntled Pastors whereas justice could have been delivered from within the church.
- Our constitution needs to create a judiciary system which is not staffed by the Executive but is filled with Born Again, Competent (skilled and trained in conflict resolution, legal, labour and discipline matters and counselling) and God fearing members from within our church. Paul admonishes the church to have an internal dispute resolution mechanism in 1 Corinthians 6:1-6.
The church is fraught with grievances, labour cases and in some cases High Court cases because we are failing to deliver justice in conflict and disciplinary matters internally. Why? Our system entrusted this to the Executive which is highly conflicted and not independent. What we need is an impartial and independent body to deliver justice and be seen to deliver justice and AFM WON’T BE IN THE NEWSPAPERS again.
- RESOURCE ALLOCATION
- Allocation between Assemblies:
- The settlement patterns that our colonial masters established within the country mean that our communities were divided into economic strata based on income levels.
- The rural areas whose incomes are based on subsistence agro economics which is seasonal are in a category of their own, while the urban communities with more consistent monthly salary incomes are in another category.
- Within the urban communities there is further segregation based on the level of income into low income, medium income and high income communities.
- Our assemblies being community based reflect the income patterns of their communities and can be easily and equally classified into rural, low income, medium income and high income churches.
- This is because the current decentralised financial system obtaining in the AFM today, requires that Assemblies remit only 20% of their tithes to the Province (other income streams excluded) and whatever levy that might be charged by the Province or National while retaining the rest implying that Assemblies are retaining more than 70% of the tithe income generated at an assembly plus other incomes as well. This means that those assemblies that generate much also get to retain much, thus the high income assemblies will have high retention levels. By definition the disadvantaged or low income areas will remain as such while the affluent will continue to blossom.
- The church buildings we are constructing and the vehicles we buy at the different assemblies bear witness to this and this means while some worship in air conditioned buildings others are relegated to grass thatch churches.
- The church’s financial system currently entrenches and amplifies the segregation and differences of our assemblies by income categories and location.
- When you compare our rural assembly church buildings to those of our contemporaries like ZAOGA it leaves a lot to be desired.
- Allocation between functions or priorities
It is important to then appreciate that the current financial system that is operating in the church is a loose financial system based on the Constitution which principally requires the payment:
- of the Provincial Return (20%), (Section 8.6.1)
- any Provincial or National Levy (Section 8.6.2),
- of the Pastor’s Pension (Section 8.7.1) and
- it leaves the rest of the resources (Section 8.8.1) to be used at the discretion of the Local Administration Committee. This constitutes in excess of 70% of the tithe income.
- It is therefore a fact that the bulk of the church’s resources >70% are left to discretional spending. This constitution should have given better direction to the use of its resources than leave to committees that can be manipulated.
- It is Section 8.8.1 that has led to skewed priorities in terms of resource allocation. Mature assemblies that have already constructed their church buildings and have acquired assets necessary for the running of the assembly are literally at liberty to spend the church’s resources on frivolous expenditure.
- The sad reality is that if expenditure analysis is undertaken it will be noted that the church’s resources have not been applied to the purpose of the organisation i.e. the Great Commission. Crusades are no longer being conducted having been replaced with revivals in which the focus is to preach to the saved. The priorities of the church are definitely misplaced because we are spending our monies on non-core activities while the core responsibility is totally ignored.
- Pastor’s Remuneration
- It is important to see how the financial system envisaged the use of the >70%. In the current constitution the pastor’s remuneration is meant to come from within this. This means for a low income urban assembly generating $500-00 per month in tithes, the pastor’s remuneration and local expenses will be limited to around $350-00 per month while high income urban assembly generating $5,000-00 and there are many such, the pastor’s remuneration and local expenses will be within the $3,500-00 per month. THIS SYSTEM CLEARLY CREATES CLASSES WITHIN OUR PASTORATE.
- The remuneration of our pastors has been the source of much anguish to many of our rural assembly pastors. The rural assembly pastor has to live with a promise and hope that one day he will migrate to an urban assembly but this is equivalent to playing the lottery and is a function of the pastor’s relationship with the Overseer, giving serious overtones to corruption and nepotism.
- The 2016 Stipend policy then solidified this position that the Pastor took centre stage of expenses at 48% of all tithes collected (60% of the 80% remaining after provincial return).
- Those Provinces that refused to implement the stipend policy mainly refused because the stipend policy actually reduced the proportion of the pastor’s costs. There is empirical evidence that there are assemblies were the cost of the Pastor is exceeding 70% and thus wipes out the discretional fund of the assembly and encroaches into the offerings and other sources.
- Our financial system has thus created Pastors who are able to send their kids to school in private schools while others can’t even afford the local government or council school in the neighbourhood. Many of these pastors’ kids are only going to school courtesy of well-wishers like Capernaum Trust, otherwise they were not going to go to school at all.
- Such disparities in income has created classes within our pastorate with the rural assembly pastors being viewed as second class citizens to their elite urban counter parts much like Lazarus and the King Luke 16: 19-21. HANA DZEDU HADZI ROVI HERE?
- Some Provinces have gone the route of centralising (paying remuneration from the Province) these assemblies particularly the rural areas upon realising that the rural income would not be able to sustain a family. Unfortunately skewed priorities in the provincial office have meant these pastors are not being paid either and if they do it is not regular. It is a matter of fact and record that most of our provinces owe rural assembly pastors’ remuneration with no hope of redemption.
- Being posted to a rural assembly is viewed as PUNISHMENT within the church and has been used as a disciplinary tool by Provincial leaderships, though there are souls requiring salvation in the rural areas. A rural posting implies starving with no food on the table and kids attending inferior schools.
- There is no deliberate attempt to recruit Pastors with various callings but the rural constituency has become a dumping ground for those under punishment or victimisation.
- Local Expenses
- The current constitution envisages that local expenses of the church will be met from the discretionary >70% that is left to the local leadership.
- The tragedy of the system has been that there is an elephant in the shop in the form of the Pastor who crowds out other expenses. The pastor being a signatory to all payments ensures that his costs are given priority over all other costs.
- The evidence on hand is that all 5 Harare provinces of the AFM owe the City of Harare over $800,000-00 for rates and property costs and this was published in the press. There is famous case of an old assembly in Bulawayo that was nearly auctioned off due to debt in 2017 and was only saved by saints pouring in their resources.
- One might wonder how the church end up owing so much, but the answer is very simple; it is because of the crowding out effect occasioned by our signatories and the skewed priorities of our financial system.
- Other Incomes – Offerings and Fund Raisings
- Tithes are not the only source of income in the church because offerings are a significant income stream. The current constitution is silent on the generation of these and more on how it is to be used. This silence has opened floodgates for the crafty to abuse the system
- The church has witnessed a plethora of offering names besides love offerings as we have traditionally known. The different labels have been crafted to psychologically coerce the saints into contributing. These fund raising gimmicks have led to the widespread preaching of the Prosperity gospel in the church. The gospel of salvation has been replaced with the prosperity gospel.
- The main driver of this offering gospel is the realisation that the offerings funds are not regulated in our Constitution and thus is an easy channel of getting money without accountability. There is even now the development of what we can call off-the-book fund raising where money is raised without going through the church’s official records. Schemes like Pastors’ Partners and Armour Bearers are all designed to beat the official records.
- Another abuse due to poor regulation is the commercialisation of the Holy Communion which in some cases is purely used as a fund raising mechanism and is a monthly ordeal so that the Pastor can pocket the offering. INOTO NANGANA NEMONTH END WHEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PAID.
- The 2018 year opening Ten Days of prayer was greeted with shocking social media notification of a Houghton Park Assembly Prayer Offerings wherein prayers were to be accompanied with significant offerings to guarantee your breakthroughs and these breakthroughs were graded. This being merely an ungodly fund raising scheme.
- The introduction of the Appreciation was designed to buttress the incomes of our pastors and the motive was good and honourable unfortunately the beneficiaries have abused the system to a point that it is now a pain to the saints.
- Appreciation is a love based gift but we are witnessing outright scheming designed to maximise the collections on the day. Targets are given to Provinces, Assemblies, Cell groups and departments; surely this is coercion and not love. This has simply become a money making scheme without the love of God in it. Some insist on the gifts being made public, so as to create embarrassment for those who contribute little. Other further claim that their intensity of prayers for you is directly proportional to the level of your giving. This is coercion of the saints where they are not allowed to express their free will but give under fear and duress.
- These appreciations have taken the pattern of the income stratum of the assembly. It is thus not surprising to hear of Pastors receiving $40,000 per appreciation in an urban high income Harare Assembly while another Pastor in a rural assembly at best received $23 and a few hens within the same church and same Province.
- There is open and blatant coercion for people to contribute towards appreciation. Pastors invite their friends to preach during such occasions often twisting scriptures to fleece congregants out of their monies and are generally manipulative in their preaching to induce money from congregants.
- Church development programmes are often suspended during the build up to the Appreciation day.
- The problem is not with the Appreciation but the lack of a system to regulate this once noble idea. AFM has lagged behind in the development of sound financial systems that ensure proper accountability within biblical principles.
AFM generates a lot of resources and God has surely blessed his saints so that they are able to support the work of God. However as a church we have not done our part to ensure that these resources are properly allocated and in some areas we have left huge, open and uncontrolled spaces only for us to blame those that take advantage of these openings. WHAT IS REQUIRED IS A NEW PARADIGM IN HOW THE CHURCH APPLIES THE RESOURCES THAT GOD HAS ENDOWED IT WITH. WE NEED CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM.
- CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
- The Church has paid very little attention to corporate governance matters and yet they are at the heart of the issues affecting the church.
- Corporate governance arises from the fact that the church is a separate and independent persona from its members and officers who act on its behalf.
- Arguments around who owns the church always sound misplaced as the ownership clearly vests in the Lord Jesus Christ who established it. It is a matter of fact that the owner of the church is not present in the flesh and he has appointed Agents (legally speaking) to act on his behalf whom he called stewards in the scriptures.
- The corporate governance issue arises not from the ownership of the church but from the relationship between the agents (stewards) who act on behalf of the church and consequently on behalf of Christ who is not present in the flesh.
- Board and the Pastor
- Our current constitution empowers the Local Board of Elders to call a Pastor to become their pastor in what we term the call system. The Board has the power to call a Pastor and determine his remuneration particularly for those not operating under the Stipend system. This suggests that the Pastor is answerable or accountable to the Board for it is the Board that invited him to be the Pastor and pays his remuneration. (NB the meeting to call him and decide on remuneration is chaired by an Elder).
- The irony and contradiction is that the Pastor when he assumes his position as a pastor becomes the chairman of the board to which he is answerable. He is the principal signatory to all expenses and has a say on who should be paid first and what should not be paid. In essence our constitution creates pastors who are accountable to themselves.
- This lack of accountability has allowed pastors to create their ministries within the church and some eventually leave after using AFM as a launch pad.
- Furthermore the church runs a decentralised system such that the pastor determines his theme for the year and runs his own programmes and is totally independent to a point that some will boycott Provincial and National functions. It is our Constitution that has created these mini ministries within the church.
- Our constitution has created “unmovable” pastors in that once he lands a lucrative urban assembly with a value of retentions (>70% of tithes) he will resist any attempts to move him. It is not surprising of pastors having been at one assembly for 17 years. The Constitution has thus created the “UNTOUCHABLES” in almost all our provinces.
- Provincial Accountability
- Pastors are functionally responsible to Overseers and Provincial Committee but these are ill equipped to enforce compliance to delinquent or errant pastors save to transfer them to a rural posting. To say Pastors are accountable to the Overseers is a myth which has no substance. Evidence is there that pastors can leave their duty station and go to Tanzania for shopping without the Overseers’ knowledge and or approval.
- Cases of pastors mobilising youths against the Provincial Committee are not strange and these have generally come together with newspaper publications.
- Overseers are generally incapacitated in enforcing vision implementation as there is always a threat of being de-campaigned at the next elections. This has made the office of the Overseer very weak.
- Vision Implementation
- We often hear the pastor being called the visionary of the Assembly and this has created challenges because the vision belongs to an individual and not the Board. When a Pastor leaves the Assembly, he leaves with his vision and the next one will come with his new vision.
- The vision being implemented at each Assembly has no relation to the overall National goals and objectives. ANGOVA MAZVAKE ZVAKE. This has created AFM assemblies that are so vastly different that a service in another Assembly feels like you have attended or visited another Pentecostal church.
- The church cultural issues that have given identity to our church like singing of hymns is so different that we are like different denominations
- This visionary disjointing is more prominent in elected offices like that of the Overseer. The infamous “Simbi Dzamira Dzoga” at LWTS is testimony of our poor governance system.
- The vision must never belong to an individual but be corporate and since our church uses presbytery it must belong to the Board.
- It has become trendy in the AFM right now that church billboard including electronic ones is littered with the Pastor and his wife’s faces. This makes the pastor the centre of attention and not Christ. This shift of focus makes the Assembly look like it belongs to an individual and not to the organisation. The Church logo and emblem is always relegated to some corner and prominence given to the Man of God.
The governance system of our church is responsible for creating ungovernable Pastors and has been the cause of ministries that have come within the AFM. What is required is to have a governance system that ensures accountability and carries checks and balances to ensure fairness and remove victimisation. WE NEED A CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM TO OUR GOVERNANCE SYSTEM
- CORRECTING THE CURRENT CONSTITUTION
Highlights of some of the key amendments to the Constitution
|CURRENT CONSTITUTION||NEW DRAFT|
|Deacons excluded from the Local Board of Elders, Provincial Workers Council and National Workers Councils||A quota is provided for deacons at all levels, Assembly, Provincial and National level|
|Non accountability of Pastors who execute the vision as the visionary and chairs the Board that has oversight of the vision.||Pastor now accountable to the Assembly Board, Overseers to the Provincial Board and President to the National Executive Board|
|Resource Allocation favouring those on urban assemblies while rural based pastors wallow in poverty||Equitable remuneration that doesn’t discriminate against rural assembly pastors|
|Pastors are creating ministries at assemblies and abandoning their missional mandate||Restoring focus on the Great Commission as the purpose of the church|
|Porous electoral process which disenfranchises other legitimate voters||Transparent electoral process|
|Creation of illegitimate assemblies (mushika shika) to curry favour and manipulate elections.||Fair recruitment done at national level with clear processes|
|Conflicted Executive presiding over conflict and disciplinary cases. Some are tried others swept under the carpet||Creation of an Independent arm of the church to deal with conflicts and disciplinary cases|
|Bulk of the church resources >70% allocated to discretionary non-core activities.||Revenues to be centrally controlled and expenditures approved by the National Council.|
|Relegation of critical departments to untrained personnel like YPU, Ladies and CMD.||Trained Pastor to be in charge of all church departments|
- DISPELLING MYTHS AND LIES ABOUT THE DRAFT
- Nyambirai Document
- The Constitutional Reform Committee that has drawn this draft was made up of twelve saints who God chose through our Apostolic Council. In terms of the technical competence of the team consisted of five (5) theologians, three (3) human resource experts, three (3) lawyers and two (2) financial experts. Just like when God commanded Moses to build the ark of God, he directed him to bring together competent skilled people. In terms of their roles in the church they are five pastors, five elders, one deacon and one lay person.
- It is a myth and a falsehood that this document is the work of one individual but is the composite work of the twelve individuals.
- While some members resigned it was after the document was completed and submitted on 21st December 2017, with the first resignation on record being 4th January 2018.
- Elders Fighting Pastors
- There are those that are peddling falsehoods that Elders are fighting Pastors and we would like to categorically state that Elders are not fighting pastors but would like to remove and change the SYSTEM. Our problem is with the system and not any individual. The system is loose, porous and prone to abuse and we believe it should be replaced with a more robust SYSTEM.
- As Elders we are saying lets go back to the original AFM missional work where outreach programmes were a priority.
- We also say let us respect and implement council resolutions that we will have agreed on.
- Elders are further saying let us have an equitable resource distribution structure in cognisance being had to the economically marginalised assemblies.
- Elders are not campaigning for any Presidential candidate as anti-reformists are claiming. All our conversations and chats have never targeted any individual and in fact it is one of the rules of conduct in our conversation. We believe leaders are chosen and appointed by God and when the time of elections comes God will choose his leadership.
- We believe more in prayer for leadership than campaigning unlike what we are currently witnessing.
- CRC Creating Positions
- While the draft constitution is creating certain new positions these have not been created for the benefit of Reform Committee members. Salaries that shall be paid to anyone employed or elected to a position shall be available for all councillors to see as the draft has a requirement for budgeted expenditure to be tabled before the National Workers Council. Figures being circulated on social media are no less than blatant lies from hell.
- Secularising the Church
- This has been an argument raised by anti-reformists but it is far from the truth. It must be borne in mind that the Constitutional Reform Committee had in its midst 5 pastors of which one was a former Deputy President and one of the most senior and experienced pastors in the church. Two members were current Overseers and members of the Apostolic Council and then two other pastors. Their role was to ensure that the committee were within the dictates of the scriptures. To assert that the draft is secular is a malicious indictment of their contribution in the committee.
- The separation of power between the Executive and the judiciary has been called secular whereas this is the most scriptural aspect of the new draft. In Exodus 18:13–27, Moses is advised by his father in law Jethro to set up a judiciary order which is separate from the Executive represented by Moses. In fact the Old Testament had the Order of Priest, the Order of Executive represented by Kings, the Order of Prophets, the Order of Judges and the Order of Israel. Of these orders it is the order of kings that was ordained last as God had intended Israel to be a Theocracy rather than a monarchy.
- Equating the Pastor to the Aaronic Priest
- This doctrine has been responsible for turning the church into a cult. This doctrine denies the universal priesthood of the saints through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all saints. It seeks to set the Pastor on a pedestal that is higher than all the other saints. The writer of the book of Hebrews in Chapter 4 highlights that Jesus is the High Priest and he put an end to the priesthood of Aaron. Any doctrine that equates the Pastor to a Priest moreover the only priest is heresy. Peter further states in 1 Peter 2:9 that we are all a royal priesthood.
- The doctrine has been has been buttressed by the doctrine of Fatherhood. This doctrine makes Pastors to be fathers to their congregants. The principle of the doctrine is that the Pastor is superior and the congregants are subjective to the Pastor the same manner a son is not at the same level with his father. It is this superiority complex that is making it difficult for them to visualise an Elder as a co-worker but rather a subordinate and thus can’t chair a board. Brethren scripture says we are now the sons of God and not of pastors John 1:12.