In September of 2009, popular preacher, recording artist and pastor, Donnie McClurkin, went on record to declare his deep disappointment with what he sees as pastoral abuses in the body of Christ. His comments have raised a legitimate question about abuse and excesses in the body of Christ and has brought attention to a topic that has largely been ignored in the church community.
McClurkin is pastor of Perfecting Church in Freeport, New York (Long Island).
In an article appearing in Essence, Pastor McClurkin was quoted as saying:
“As pastors, we have to link arms and have bi-partisanships. The [Black] church has always been the face of the community. Now we have to take on the responsibility of becoming true servants to the people from all walks of life. I get so mad when I see these pimpin’ preachers driving Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, flying around in their private jets, and making it seem like prosperity and money is the way of God when 90 percent of your congregation is on Section 8 or can’t figure out how they are going to keep their lights on or feed their kids. I’m big on perception, and what would it look like for me to live so lavishly if the people in my church are struggling?”
In venting his frustration over the behavior of some in the church community, Pastor McClurkin reveals his own humility and sense of service to God and God’s people, by outlining his own relationship, financial and otherwise, with his church and his refusal to take revenue from a congregation that he has built from the ground up.
“I’ve done great in gospel music, and only a few of us have accomplished what I have, and guess what? I live in the ‘hood, not some place on the outskirts of the ‘hood,” McClurkin told Kenya Byrd of Essence. “There ain’t no gate around my house; I have a white fence because the people I pastor live in that community. I have one vehicle and it’s not a Mercedes, it’s a Lincoln Navigator. I don’t receive a dime—not an Abraham Lincoln copper coin—and haven’t for the last seven-and-a-half years because I’m okay.”
As such, Pastor McClurkin has become a model and an example for others to emulate. His mentality and actions, that places a greater emphasis on service than profit, can only be admired by all of those who love the Lord and are seeking to do His will to the best of their ability. Pastor McClurkin makes it clear that he has options, but chooses to live a modest and humble lifestyle because that’s what God has called him to do.
“If I wanted to buy a Phantom or Bentley I could and not hurt my pockets, but I’m okay with what I have,” McClurkin continued. “I can sing and work and I have all that money go back into the church so we can buy the delicatessen on the corner, or the house next door to make it state-of-the-art low-income housing. We’ve trained our people to put their leaders on pedestals, and some people want to live vicariously through their pastor and say, ‘My pastor has this and he’s on television and so on,’ but then what do you have? How have you prospered and grown? So when I hear other pastors say, ‘My people take care of me,’ I’m thinking, But you’re supposed to be taking care of the people.’ I just don’t get it.”
What is best gleaned from the wisdom and honesty of Pastor McClurkin is his healthy attitude about the church and who it belongs too. His “ecclesiology”, which is worthy of our consideration, perhaps best represents what Christ had in mind when He gave pastors to the body of Christ in the first place.
“I don’t have a church, but I do have a church that I pastor,” said McClurkin. “I can’t name something the Donnie McClurkin Temple because the people do not belong to me and if they did that would mean I have slaves. I am simply a vessel to deliver God’s word. At the end of the day, it’s God’s church, not mine.”