The religious market does not cease to amaze or shock us these days. Who would have thought that the idea of franchises would come into the religious market operating on a spiritual and financial dimension? Of course Church history has it that prior to the Reformation one of the corrupt practices of Bishops was the sale or auctioning of lucrative congregations to Priests. This practice became well-known as Simony. A franchise is an authorisation granted by a government or company to an individual or group enabling them to carry out specified commercial activities. For example one may get a franchise to run a McDonald’s Restaurant. This involves a financial investment and training to meet the required standards to run such a franchise. In return the owners of McDonald’s Chain of Restaurants will also get some financial benefit on such a deal. In the religious arena, a new emphasis or a distortion rather, has arisen of having a Spiritual Father well-known as Papa. The Father/Son relationship as depicted in Paul and Timothy is a genuine biblical practice. But what exists in some religious circles is a distortion of biblical values which are supposed to be there for the common good of God’s work. This is not just a father/son relationship but rather a Religious Franchise or modern re-incarnation of Simony (A term derived from Simon the Sorcerer) whereby the son is endowed with spiritual anointing from the Papa and in return the Papa is given a financial benefit which goes beyond an ordinary honorarium. The son will continually tap into the Papa’s anointing whilst the Papa enjoys financial proceeds from the son. Even where the Papa lives in a foreign country, it is the duty of the son to make several pilgrimages to see the Papa. In some cases the Papa may visit the son so as to ascertain the success of the franchise. Such a relationship of mutual benefit can easily turn into a fiasco if the son forgets to regularly and appropriately remember to bless the Papa generously. Could it be that if Simon the Sorcerer lived in our times, he would not have got a public rebuke as the Apostle Peter did to him? Simon was a new convert, who when he saw other converts receiving the Holy Spirit by the laying of hands by Peter and John, he offered them money in exchange of the ability to dispense the Holy Spirit. My opinion is that Simon would have easily got such a franchise from some of our modern day Preachers. But Peter refused to put the gifts of God for sale. He had the courage to rebuke Simon and tell him off that his heart was not right before God. I have no problem with a genuine Father/Son relationship in ministry. I also have a father in the Faith and I have many sons in the Faith. I have no problem with a son willingly blessing his Spiritual Father financially. I am seriously concerned when such a spiritual relationship is commercialised into a Religious Franchise i.e. Simony of a higher order. In the spirit of Apostle Peter May I hasten to say that whosoever is doing this, their heart is not right with God. I rest my case.
THE PAPA/SON RELIGIOUS FRANCHISE (Acts 8:9-23)