Praying for ‘Revival,’ with a Statue?

Man praying with a statue and holding it's hand

This describes my experiences at a pseudo-Christian college. It is written in response to a pastor who thought that statues could help his push for a prayer revival. He did a photo-op of himself praying with a status of a great revivalist and holding the statue’s hand. (See actual photo above.) This act was the last straw that ultimately forced me to leave his church and college. The name of this pastor and his ministry will not be revealed in this article, as the problems I unsurfaced in this ministry are widespread. (For the most part, this poem represents actual factual information. The points that are not factual are clearly noted in the comments. Names have been changed.)  This poem was originally written in Oct 2010, a few months after I had decided that I wasn’t going back.  

Once the man of God alive called for us prayer to revive.

For this revival we must pray. Let us do this every day.

Submit to our leaders we must, and give them our all and trust.

We will follow their example, and let our prayers be ample.

Much emphasis was placed on being loyal and obedient to the leaders, whoever they may be. However, the leaders were not accountable to us, and ignored our petitions of redress of grievances. We as college students were told we were there to serve the pastor. I was there to learn how to better serve Jesus Christ. They placed an undue emphasis on their pastor and other men of God.

 

Chorus:

I’m praying for revival, I just need a statue or two.

Spurgeon, Torrey, Hyles, or Rice. One of these would be nice.

Joined in spirit, joined in hand, we’ll all pray for this land.

I’m praying for revival, I just need a statue or two.

 

 

The preaching is anointed, and the message really pointed.

“I could rip off all your faces, but I must show you God’s graces.”

He then calls his assistant Fred and pets him up there on the head.

If we do all that they say, we will have revival one day!

We were frequently rebuked from the pulpit for not keeping man-made rules and standards. They called this “face ripping.” Most of the preaching was of the “don’t do this” nature, with the exception of sermons on tithing and soul winning. There was no emphasis on discipleship after salvation, though. I witnessed the petting-on-the-head incident with my own eyes. I thought it was weird, but no one dared to say anything about it.

And so the revival came. Many were saved, bless God’s name!

Up a pedestal went the pastor. “We must build, faster, faster!”

All the people then proclaimed, the glories of the pastor’s name.

But I’m loyal to God’s man, for I know that he has a plan.

The church was busting at the seams. The congregation grew in their loyalty to their man of God. The pastor was exalted. Everyone talked about how great, how anointed he was. “This is the ministry of Pastor _____” was applied to all aspects of the ministry. There was too much focus on him as the pastor, and he did not give God the glory.

So bring me a lump of metal shaped like Luther or Tyndale.

We need a statue, we need three. Preacher does it, that’s good for me!

We only have statues four, I think we need statues more.

We declare ourselves Baptists, but are more like the Papists.

The pastor wanted a statue on the college campus. I feared many would follow his example, and pray with it as well. If this happened, these Baptists could be opening the door to become more like the Roman Catholics, with their multiple statues of saints and popes. Attempting to use graven images to get God’s favor is a direct violation of Scripture and will only result in His judgment. Just ask the ancient Israelites.

We just can’t let the Bible stand in the way of our revival.

Put it on the sidelines, it’s just a book of guidelines.

Learn from the student handbook, for it’s an equal rulebook.

It helps you make godly decisions, so don’t you hold it in derision.

In their handbook, they essentially make the handbook and Bible equal, labeling both as “books of guidelines”. Here is the actual handbook quote:

This handbook is a set of necessary guidelines and sanctions. The Bible is also such a book. Without guidance in some detail we would all be going in different, and many times wrong, directions. These guidelines will help you as a student to make wise, Bible-based decisions in all matters of conduct, dress, and propriety, relating to student life at ____ College. In addition, this handbook will tell you what to expect if the guidelines are not followed.

Before I enrolled there, I attempted to find a copy of the handbook to know what I was getting myself into. (It was not posted on the website at the time.) When I went in for a campus tour, I asked for a copy. At first they hesitated, then reluctantly gave me one. The attitude and facial expressions I got suggested that I was being rebellious … “Oh, you want to know what the rules are?” It was like they were hiding something.

Also, when I showed them that their over-emphasis on the senior pastor was unbiblical, they just told me that I just had a different “leadership philosophy” than them.

“Do this and that,” they told us, or else they will scold us.

“We will make new decrees, you must do as we please!”

“More freedom than you’ve ever had,” ask your mom; ask your dad.

If freedom then is slavery, George Orwell must have lied to me.

It was a very command-and-control environment. Often, the administrators would make up a new rule on a whim, during a semester, or they would enforce rules that were not included in the handbook. As the handbook was a legal contract between the college and the student, with the student agreeing to abide with the rules in the handbook, this was not something that they could legally do. They often called their college and system of rules as “more freedom than you’ve ever had.” Considering the nature of their rules, this was a very Orwellian statement. The college would have been perceived as “freedom” only to those who grew up in really strict households.

So we had us a little talk, and he told me I could take a walk.

But not to here or not to there, or really not to anywhere.

To this, I said, where is your right? This rule is really strict and tight.

Go search it out like a hound, for in the handbook it can’t be found.

Midway through my second semester, the administration decided to enforce a non-existent rule that greatly affected me. They declared that no students were allowed to walk to anywhere. Not to the dorms, not to the church, not even for exercise. They were even so bold as to state that this had always been the rule. Since I am in the habit of taking walks for exercise, as well as prayer-walking, this did not go over well with me. I was forced to resort to begging the administration for permission to walk from campus to the dorms.

“By fear we then lead them, and not by conscience freedom.

You have liberty of soul, but not under our control.

I know that we teach it, and we really, really preach it.

But you’re expected to conform, if you live in our dorm.”

The college often proclaimed the Baptist distinctives of “freedom of conscience” and “individual soul liberty.” These principles sound good and are Biblical. However, they were not practiced on their campus. Instead, they ruled with an iron fist, and dissent from their views was strongly discouraged. There was no freedom of conscience among them.

Summer break is dangerous; you might not come back to us.

If you’re tired, you’re not committed. Sleep in, you’re not acquitted.

If you leave, you’re a failure. You’ll be a workman or a sailor.

Don’t have a critical spirit. Don’t ask questions if you fear it.

They seemed to be paranoid about students leaving the college. Before every major break, we would get a sermon pressing us to stay in the area, supposedly to maintain off-campus employment. We were continually told that if we quit college, we would be failures, and would end up not doing anything for the Lord. Other mind-manipulation phrases were used, including telling us that we weren’t committed when we complained about being exhausted. We were often warned against having a critical spirit. However, they did not distinguish between being critical and being discerning. This created a chilling effect; students were afraid to ask legitimate questions about the college, as we did not want to be rebuked for being ‘critical’.

When you knock upon a door, you represent us and Pastor Moore.

Go we in the name of Jesus? They might not receive us.

We go in the preacher’s name, for his sermons bring him fame.

To the church we invite them, hoping that this will excite them.

We were constantly told how we represented the church, the college, and the pastor to the community. I don’t remember much emphasis on us representing Jesus Christ to the community.

My individual calling must to them be appalling.

My calling must bow down to that pastor with a crown.

My divine calling then in life is to serve preacher without strife.

We’re to serve them that lead us, not to question what they feed us.

The college administration was, at first, interested in my calling of researching Bible texts and versions, along with prophecy, technology and the like. However, I soon found myself being forced to fit into their mold of local church ministry. I have nothing against local church ministry, but my calling does not fit into standard church ministry. I was presented with two options, be a pastor, or be the servant to a pastor. Other than these, there were no other ministry options. And I’m not called to either.

Dorm life is not so nice; it isn’t really worth the price.

Cleaning supplies are all but missin’, but this place still must glisten.

Scrubbing is quite the drag, when TP is the only rag.

Freshmen students disturb your rest, then brag about how they’re blessed.

We occasionally had to “white-glove” the dorms. However, we were always short on cleaning supplies, and requested supplies were received slowly. Students resorted to cleaning using toilet paper. Jobless students would hang out in the dorms all afternoon, causing trouble, and disturbing those who worked third shift. I once had a student come bursting into my room naked and screaming around 1 AM one night. He was one of the primary troublemakers. I reported this to the administration, but as far as I could tell, he only got a slap on the wrist.

Way down deep at the bottom, there are students come from Sodom.

When I come and report it, they say I distort it.

Their crimes they don’t see, so they just let them be.

They will be the consternations of their future congregations.

Students, including myself, witnessed homosexual acts in the dorms. We reported it to the administration, but it seems like they did nothing. The students that I were reported continued in college, and were allowed to graduate. The administration seemed more concerned with enforcing their man-made rules than dealing with actual sin.

So then within God’s holy Book, I had myself another look.

Lead by service, it proclaims. Do not lord over others in God’s name.

Cast out idols from this place, and do not give them any space.

Don’t bow down to or serve them. But, this might just perturb them.

After I left this ministry, I was able to clearly see how they violated Scripture, especially in the manner of government. I remember them teaching us men about servant leadership. To them, servant leadership meant that we, students, were to serve them, the college. “You’re here to serve US” was the essence of the lesson. True servant leadership says “We’re here to serve you.” They were teaching us to exalt “men of God” rather than the Son of God. It was all about man-worship.

“I’m not praying with this statue; I’m throwing it back at you.”

“I don’t like your attitude; show me some gratitude.”

“What have you really given me, except a load of tyranny!”

He showed me the door. “Rebel, come here no more.”

Note: The dialog in this stanza didn’t actually happen (As I was gone home from the college for summer when I decided I wasn’t going back.) However, I did have an interesting email exchange with one of the administrators. He claimed that I disagreed with their philosophy of leadership. I asked for this philosophy in print, as it was absent from the catalog and the handbook. To this date, I have yet to see this philosophy in print. My personal understanding of their ‘philosophy of leadership’ is that the pastor is in absolute authority, and disobeying his slightest wish will render you not right with God.

While this dialog in itself isn’t factual, they constantly told us about how much that they hand invested in us, that we should be grateful to them. In reality, I had paid them thousands of dollars for their man-worship education.

 

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Updated: August 21, 2019 — 8:35 AM