He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. - John 10:12-13 (ESV)
One of the more revealing facets of the COVID crisis was how God used it to reveal who were mostly hirelings in the pulpit, seemingly uncaring for the very sheep entrusted to them. We have written about this before in relation to the NAR purpose driven church (PDC) model. The PDC teaches pastors to constantly recast their vision for how to continually grow their individual church. It is always couched in the most pious evangelistic terms but the reality is that the PDC encourages pastors to "blessedly subtract" any dissenting sheep as long as they find two new goats to replace them. The object is the constantly increase the number of attendees so they can maximize the "giving" and thus reach the goals within their vision. When one looks at this model one can easily see how COVID would cripple or potentially kill the business of the purpose driven churches. We started to see this early on in the pandemic as suddenly pastors fancied themselves epidemiologists and insisted that church was an "essential" function that needed to continue despite the growing death toll. Hirelings can never see the true biblical vision for the church. The pandemic provided an excellent opportunity for churches to become more local and more personal. They could have easily helped their communities and even provide spiritual guidance for their sheep. They just could not have that hour and a half meeting each Sunday. The problem is that the entire PDC model is solely based on that hour and a half. Eventually these fiscal pressures even affected otherwise seemingly solid pastors like John MacArthur. Johnny Mac suddenly was the darling of Charisma News and doing interviews with rabid NAR dominionists, yet he could not see the Charismaniacal rabbit hole he had climbed down into. He still cannot see that his ego and pride has allowed him to constantly place his own sheep at risk of serious illness or even death.
The stories early on should have scared pastors straight. We constantly read stories about pastors who died themselves for opening their churches in the middle of a plague. Originally, we heard it was all about Hebrews and not forsaking the fellowship but it become clear that those who misused those verses were easily debunked. So, following the NAR dominionist lead it became about freedom. The reality however is that it has always been about money. That is why the hireling takes the job. As the key verses remind us - he cares nothing for the sheep. I say this as the backdrop for more stories of pastoral woe but this time from Canada. Now our neighbors to the north have had no shortage of crazy pastors. During this time. I have previously highlighted two of them, who orchestrated their own arrests to try and look like martyrs instead of the fools they are. Today we will be discussing the third such hireling, Pastor Steve Gesualdi of Good News Chapel in Montreal. Let us reason again together through the above linked news story:
MONTREAL -- A woman has died and dozens more have fallen ill following an outbreak of COVID-19 at Good News Chapel in Montreal, her family says, where religious leaders have been accused of spreading misinformation about the virus and disregarding public health measures. The 61-year-old woman, whose first name is Diana, died Sunday, two weeks after being admitted to hospital, according to her family. CTV News has chosen not to publish her full name. Her cousin, Judy Fuoco, believes Diana caught the virus at the Good News Chapel, in the city's St-Leonard borough. "Her family, Diana, and her husband decided they didn't need to be vaccinated based on what they were being told at church," Fuoco, who is also a former follower of the church, told CTV News in an interview." - Montreal CTV News
How profoundly sad. This woman and her husband trusted their pastor. Yes, they trusted their faith but it was their pastor that they were following. There is a reason why Jesus uses the imagery of sheep and a shepherd. The shepherd is supposed to lead the sheep. The sheep are to trust fully and follow. The amount of responsibility placed upon the heads of those who take on the mantle of pastor is so heavy. The bible says they will be judged to a higher standard. They must be because they are responsible for the blood of those who follow them. That is why Paul instructs the young pastor Timothy to guard only two things - his life and his doctrine. Guarding his life has to do with his own walk, lest he fall. His doctrine however is for the benefit of his hearers. When Paul was leaving Ephesus, he said goodbye to the elders by telling them that he was innocent of their blood because he did not hesitate to proclaim the entire gospel. This pastor chose to take that sacred trust and sully and stain it with the carnal politics of man and dishonesty. To not only be told they do not need the vaccine but to then catch it at the church is again, just so profoundly sad.
Diana's mother also died of complications due to COVID-19 almost a year ago, Fuoco said, before vaccines were available. "She should have known better," she said. "But she really truly believed in her faith to the point where she said, 'I'm going to follow God this way, not vaccinate, and have faith.'" Fuoco left the Good News Chapel in 2019, when she said the sermons started getting too political. "This death could have been avoided," she said. CTV News has interviewed multiple people who are close to the church but who do not currently attend. They said it has a culture of vaccine hesitancy and resistance to COVID-19 measures, pushed by the church leadership. The church has made headlines in the pandemic before. On Feb. 14, 2021, its members openly violated gathering limits by welcoming over 100 people into the building in protest of Quebec's lockdown measures, which its pastor, Steve Gesualdi, called "ridiculous" at the time. "Too many people are suffering from other things far more dangerous than COVID-19. Suicides are up, depression is up, anxiety is up," he said the night of the protest.