- Category: Faith | Prayer & Devotionals
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PASTOR PRICELLIOUS BURRUSS Interview
Editor-in-Chief, Paulette Whitfield Black, talks with her about ministry and life. Pastor Burruss is pastor of one of the most relevant ministries in the Midwest, Transformation Christian Church and World Outreach Center.
Coverings: Pastor Burruss, you have more men in your congregation than many churches that are pastored by men. Men usually have difficulty following a female. What are you doing differently? What is your secret?
Pastor Burruss: It is not so much of a secret. I praise God for the men who have been in my life. My father has a strong personality, and so do my brothers. I am now widowed, but I had a very strong husband. Therefore, I understand a little bit about men. Men do not want to go to a “women’s church.” They do not have as big of a problem with following a woman pastor as they have a problem with belonging to a “women’s ministry.”
We try to decorate our church nicely, because you see throughout scripture that they decorated the house of God. What we do not do is to make anything look effeminate. It’s just like asking a guy to go into the girls powder room because the men’s is under construction. He doesn’t want to go in there! That is why we do not do things really “girly.”
Another reason why men come to Transformation Christian Church is because I am a pastor, and I am a teacher. I teach the Word. There are a lot of men who want to know God. With men, they want to know what the rules are...what’s required...what are you supposed to do. As a teacher, I can clearly and distinctly teach them how we are to live before God, and how we are supposed to prosper. They can understand the Word.
I show respect to the men who come into our church. I will even say yes sir and no sir at times to my own sons, and they are 18 and 19. Many women ministers do not have to wear robes. I choose to wear a robe. I’m really busy. I’m more of a book worm than a girly girl, so I am not going to spend a lot of thought about what I’m wearing.
Men are coming to church because they want to live holy and upright. They do not need a lot of distractions. I am not a distraction for them. I give them what they come for. I give them the Word of God. They do not feel like they are coming to a women’s ministry. They feel like they are coming to the house of God.
God called me about 30 years ago to preach the gospel. That was before I ever met my late husband. I didn’t marry a pastor, I married Bro. Richard. We were licensed the same day we were married. We ministered together on a Sunday morning in June, (we said we’d never do that again) and then we were licensed and ordained. At 2:00 p.m. we got married.
When I was first called, I felt that if anybody needed to know what the Bible says about women in ministry, it would be me, because I was called to be one. I studied and read the Bible. Many times we want to use scriptures like, “...women should keep silent in the church ( 1 Corinthians 14).” Now, when you read that chapter, it also says let him keep quiet. Therefore, if it’s telling men to be quiet, and women to be quiet, that means everybody needs to shut up and be quiet.
What were the reasons for them to be quiet? First to the men, Apostle Paul is saying, if a man thinks he has a prophecy in tongues from the Lord, and he himself does not have the interpretation, and there’s nobody in the room who can interpret, then let him be quiet. In the whole chapter you see that Apostle Paul is talking about operating in the gifts and church order.
Then, when he gets over to the women he says, “Women keep quiet in the church, and if you want to learn anything, let her ask her husband at home.” He was not dealing with women not being allowed to preach, teach, prophesy or pray in church. He was simply talking about them learning. First of all, he wasn’t talking to unmarried women. So, he wasn’t talking to me. Secondly, he was talking to the married women about one specific thing. Asking questions.
I went to Pakistan in March of 2007. Still part of that Eastern tradition, the Christian church I visited had the men on one side of the sanctuary, and the women and children on the other side. There, I did a couple of outdoor healing meetings, which they called Healing and Transformational meetings. Later, we sent money and they built a new church. They sent pictures, and what did we see? Men on one side, and still, the women and children on the other side...and they’re Christians.
That is what we had in the Middle East even at the time Apostle Paul was teaching. A separation. A woman might yell across the room to her husband, “Hey, George. What did he mean by that?” That is why Apostle Paul wrote, teaching them to be decent and in order saying, “Women, keep silent in the church. If you want to learn anything...” Learning. He did not talk about the women preaching and teaching. He was admonishing the married women to wait until they got home, to ask their husbands about what was being taught.
Coverings: You are saying that when we read that scripture, we have a tendency to think about our own culture...our Western lifestyle, which is a totally different setting?
Pastor Burruss: Yes. It’s that, and because we have heard what “they say,” instead of what the Bible teaches. I really love the unchurched. If you go to a person who has never been taught anything about that scripture, what they will give you is exactly what I am telling you. It’s about women learning something, not about them preaching and teaching.
Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles, did not have a problem with women ministers. There is nothing in the Bible that teaches against women ministers, if you actually read what is stated. In 1Corinthians, Paul was dealing with the customs again. It was the same thing I experienced when I was in Pakistan. The group that I was with, wore their heads covered. They were very stylish people, so whatever outfit they wore, they matched their head covering with it. I had another woman and gentleman with me. Both of whom were ministers. After we had been there for a couple of days, she noticed some of the women in Pakistan wore their heads covered and some did not. One day when we were coming out of the hotel to meet with the group, she did not have her hair covered. I asked her to cover it. The group we were with covered their heads, so we needed to make sure we had our heads covered, as well.
Paul is talking about covering. In particular, he is dealing with the husband being the head over the wife, just as Christ is the head over the man. Then he goes on and talks about women cutting their hair. He taught that they should not do that, because in that culture a lot of the temple prostitutes wore their hair cut. He is talking about physical coverings in the Middle East, that they actually wear. Remember he said, “women, if you are going to pray or prophesy, you should pray and prophesy with your head covered.” We took that to mean that you have to have a married man over you. What Paul was talking about was the headwrap...literally having your head covered if you prophesy or pray. Nowhere did he say you could not pray or prophesy in church. When you really look at that, at the end of the discourse, Paul says in essence, if anybody has a problem with any of this stuff, we have no such customs in the church of God. He is talking about covering.
When my late husband passed, I knew the first thing people were going to ask was, “Who is your covering?” That scripture is talking about headwear. It is not talking about a man covering you. And then Paul ends it with, if anybody has a problem with it, in the church of Christ, we have no such customs. He was just dealing with the customs. Any missionary knows when go to a place, you are there to preach Christ. You are not trying to change their customs.
I got saved in 1980. A year later, God called me to preach the gospel. It wasn’t until a couple of years after, that I even recognized how some people thought about women preachers. Consequently, that’s when I figured if anybody needed to know the truth, I did.
Coverings: That is probably why you like the “unchurched.”
Pastor Burruss: They haven’t been indoctrinated with traditions of men. The Bible says it’s the traditions of men that make the Word of God of none effect. I remember years ago we had clean up day at our church. One of our ladies had come from a particular denomination, which did not believe in women wearing pants. On this certain day she wore pants with a really long shirt, so everything was covered. Mentally she knew that what she was wearing was okay, but she had been under that tradition so long, she felt very uncomfortable wearing a pair of pants. Especially at church. When the Bible tells us in the Old Testament men don't wear the apparel of women, and women don't wear the apparel of men, neither one of them were wearing pants. It simply means men shouldn't wear women's clothes/pants and women shouldn't wear men's clothes/pants.
Coverings: What is the Spirit of the Lord saying to the church, now?
Pastor Burruss: Let the church be the church. In many cases, what happens is, we are not trying to be the church any longer. We are so busy trying to reach the world, we’re being the world. You can’t be the world and help the church. You can’t be the world and help the world. That’s really the problem.
You must always look at Jesus’ last words. In Matthew, the resurrected Christ, speaking to the people says, “All power has been given unto Me...Go ye therefore and teach the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and whatsoever things I have commanded you, teach them to do it.”
What you have going on in the body of Christ now, are people who say they are born again believers, but the Word of God is not the final authority in their lives. All too often, the church is not teaching them to do Jesus’ last words. We are not teaching people to do everything that He says. People are not being taught to obey everything the Bible teaches. They do not want to offend the people. That’s the culture that is in the church, and that culture can’t win the world.
Coverings: Please tell us about The Transformed Mens Ministry at your church.
Pastor Burruss: We have had the Transformed Mens Ministry ever since the first three years of our conception. They meet quarterly. Church is not just spiritual, church is social. When a person comes to church, they need to gain social ties. The Transformed Mens Ministry is a way for men to gain social ties with other men of God whose focus is to fulfill God’s will for their lives.They talk about things that they are interested in, but we found out we usually get a bigger turn out when we just have recreation. Men are very competitive. We have a gym, basketball, ping pong, and video’s.
Coverings: How do you feel about the Christian dating websites?
Pastor Burruss: I think the last statistic I heard was that in the United States, the amount of unmarried people is about 40%. Many people do not believe that it is necessary to get married. God created marriage. The spiritual aspect is to put two people together for the vision He has for their lives. The natural aspect of marriage is firstly, companionship. He said, “Adam, it is not good for man to be alone.” Now of course, He didn’t have other human beings. There were only animals. When He created Eve, that represented wife. So, the first thing we see about marriage, when God created it, was for companionship. Then when we go over to Genesis 4:1, Adam knew Eve. Therefore, secondly, marriage was created for sexual fulfillment, and thirdly, for procreation.
We have more dating here in America now, than we have ever had in history. What has it produced? Not more marriages, but fewer marriages. Because those three needs that God created marriage for: companionship, sexual needs met, and procreation are being met now, through dating.
So, many people do not feel a need to get married. What happens is, they get all the benefits, and needs met through dating, that are supposed to be met through marriage only. They avoid the responsibility that comes with marriage.
The man knows if she gets fat or unattractive, he can go on to someone else. He doesn’t have a commitment to her, so he doesn’t have responsibilities to her. She, on the other hand, is in a situation where, If he gets sick, she can just dump him. If he loses his job, and can’t get another job...just dump him. She doesn’t have any commitments to him. They say, “I’m getting my social needs met with companionship, I’m getting my sexual needs met. If I want children I can get that too, through this relationship, but I don’t have any responsibilities with this relationship.” When they get old, dump them.
Some women will say, “I’m not going to take care of a grown man.” Some men will say, “I’m not going to take care of a woman who won’t work.” There’s no responsibility, so they just move on. You can have all the benefits of what God created marriage for, without the responsibilities and commitments. That is why you are seeing less and less marriages.
The big, big problem is that in the body of Christ, it goes against everything the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches about fornication. Everybody wants to know, “What is the will of God for my life?” 1Thessalonians 4 says, “For this is the will of God. Even your sanctification that you should abstain from fornication, which is sexual immorality, and that everyone of you should know how to keep his vessel, which is his body, in sanctification and honor.” What does sanctification mean? Being set apart from the world. Being set apart unto God for His use, His plans, and His purposes.
Most of the time, people cannot do it through dating for a long period of time. There are certain things that the Bible teaches. 1Corinthians 7:1 says, “It’s good for a man not to touch a woman, nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife.”
Now, it doesn’t mean you can’t touch a woman, because in another place Paul tells his son in the Lord, Timothy, “Treat the older women as mothers, and treat the younger women as sisters.”
What is he saying? Anything you wouldn’t do with your mother or sister, do not do to other women you are not married to. It is very simple to understand.
If you are involved in fornication, it is a sin before God. The Bible says that marriage is honorable in all, and the marriage bed is undefiled. But, whoremongers and adulterers, God will judge. They are under the judgment of God. Another thing to consider, if your goal is marriage, is to go back to old school—Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?
I always say that as an unmarried person, you do not want to be a “Desperado.” When you are a “Desperado” that means that you are so concerned about losing someone, that you are going to do whatever the other person wants. That comes from not being whole. I personally believe dating is for courtship and marriage. It should be, because you believe that this is someone whom God is dealing with you about marriage.
Coverings: No casual dating then?
Pastor Burruss: Exactly! That is why a lot of young people are not interested in marriage. After you get married, you are supposed to date. Every week you are supposed to date your spouse. The first couple of years of my marriage were rough. My late husband and I argued and fought like cats and dogs. Both of us did not like being hypocrites, so we decided to work on our marriage. The first thing we did was to start the weekly dates. The first time, we went on a date to a restaurant. It didn’t go well, because we got into somewhat of an argument. When it was time to go again, he wouldn’t go. I was like, “Why don’t you want to go?” He said, “Well, if we’re going to argue we can do that at home.”
Coverings: And save some money. It’s a guy thing!
Pastor Burruss: I’m a rule person. Set rules. When you know what you are supposed to do, then I know what I am supposed to do. So, we set certain rules. We couldn’t talk about money. We couldn’t talk about the church, and we couldn’t talk about the children. We didn’t have any problem with the children, but a marriage can’t be based on your children. Children grow up and go. Marriage has to be based upon the relationship between the husband and wife, because marriage is for companionship.
When we went on our next date, we didn’t have anything to say. We were just sitting there. I’m reading the menu back and forth, and I have it memorized by now. Then he just gets up and walks away. He was gone for quite a little while. By now I am thinking, did he leave me or what? Then, he comes back with a newspaper and starts reading it, because we didn’t have anything to say to one another.
So, then I make up more rules for the next date. You can’t bring your cell phone. And we could only talk about things that interests us. We both used to like to travel. Even if there were things we could not do financially at the time, we talked to each other the way you would to a friend, about the things you would like to do.
We were different in a lot of areas, and we were similar in a lot of areas. When it came to ministry and family, we were very similar. When it came to other things we were very different. So, on our dates we would do something like this: One week he would decide what we were going to eat, and where we were going to go, and the next week I would choose. He liked Chinese food and cafeteria food. I like Italian food and Mexican food. I’m not a shopper, and he was a shopper.
Our children were young and we did not want to rely on babysitters, so we would have lunch dates. This was every Friday. Every four to six weeks we would go to a hotel. Whether it was locally or out of town, we had a rule that we couldn’t look nicer for people in the church at church functions, than we looked for each other. A lot of times we would be really tired when we checked into the hotel. We really would have liked to have stayed there, but we would make ourselves take a shower and get all dressed up. We would go to a nice restaurant. Of course, once we got dressed up we would feel like going.
One of the biggest sins in marriage is familiarity. Often, a man will open the door for a woman who’s a total stranger, just as a common courtesy, and may not open the door for his wife. You can also have a wife who has a boss who will ask her to do something. Just as a common courtesy, she will say, “Yes sir” and do it. Her husband will ask her to do something. She will not do it and never affirm him by saying, “Yes sir,” or give him the respect that is due him. That’s familiarity. When you are dating your spouse, it helps strengthen your relationship.
Marriages go through trials and storms, but when you have a good relationship you can endure them. Also, marriage is meant to be enjoyable. When you have a good relationship, you enjoy your marriage. A lot of young people have no interest in getting married, because they never see their parents dress up and go anywhere. They never do anything together. It just looks like no fun. Therefore, they figure I’d better do all my dating, all my dressing up, looking good and romance before I get married, because once you get married you can forget it.
Coverings: Do you teach this in your classes?
Pastor Burruss: Yes, I do. I teach it to my congregation. I also wrote a book. When I wrote it the first time I was unmarried. Then it was called Successful Singles. I rewrote it after I had been married for about a decade. I changed the title to Transformed Singles. The first three parts of it I wrote when I was unmarried. The last part, I wrote after I had been married for ten years. You discover many things you thought were important are not so important after all. Too many times people think that looks are important. What happens is, a woman can look good on the outside, but be a witch on the inside. A man can look good on the outside, but when the garage door opens and he’s coming home, you think, “Oh my God, here he comes again.”
I hear people say things like, “If you are believing God for a husband, you prepare a meal and set a place at the other side of the table for your husband to be.” Forget it! You need real people to test out your cooking. That woman should find a friend who is a single mother, and go over her house to cook for her kids. She needs to hear them say, “Ugh, I don’t like the green stuff,” or whatever.
The point is that you need real people to declare that you are a good cook. I tell these women to do things like go over there and wash the kids clothes everySaturday...when you’d rather go get your nails done. This prepares people for the real world. In the real world you may have children, and there are a lot of things you will have to do. Also, I say make out a budget, and take all the kids shopping. See how this thing really works.
For the single men, I ask them to pick a married family. Spend your Christmas money buying toys for those kids, when you would be buying stuff for yourself. I tell him to choose either his mother, grandmother, or a mother in the church with a 30 year difference. You know we have a lot of cougars out there now, so a 30 year difference is safe. When he gets off work, before he has had time to cool down, go over to her house. Listen to her talk on and on about what you may consider to be nothing.
Empty her trash. Go over before work. Put her trash out on trash day. If she has stuff that needs to be fixed, fix it. If you don’t know how to fix it, pay for a plumber or somebody to fix it. Also, when she wants her furniture moved around, move it around. When you get it there and she finds out she doesn’t like it there, move it back.
Coverings: What was yours and your late husband’s vision to begin Transformation Christian Church?
Pastor Burruss: God spoke to my late husband and told him he would have a large church in St. Louis, before he ever met me. I knew I was called to the ministry. I did not know what all my offices would be. However, I knew I was called to the nations. I had been doing missionary work since 1985, before I met my late husband. After we got married in June of 1987, we incorporated Richard Burruss Ministries in March of 1989. One day while we were driving west on Delmar the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "The church is to be called Transformation. It will be teaching and evangelism." That's how we got our name. The church started the last Sunday in July, 1989.
We started off with very little. We just worked the vision. He was a mighty man of prayer. Really bold. So we just did it. I have always been obedient. I was obedient even to my natural parents. He was obedient to God. We did it basically, because God told us. It wasn’t that we had this burden or anything like that. God told us, so we just did it. The key is we were just being obedient.
Coverings: Allow me to say that many people are blessed by your ministry.
Pastor Burruss: The goal of Transformation Christian Church and World Outreach Center is of course to transform lives the world over, but also, for it to be like heaven. My true desire is diversity. Heaven has diversity. Transformation Christian Church and World Outreach Center is diverse. I never want it to be known as a Black church. I never want it to be known as an inner-city church. I want it to be known for people who have a desire to have a strong relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, transforming lives through the power of God’s Word, and to finish everything they were called to do, dying empty. We have a big vision, and we need a lot of bodies to help fill it.