Michael “Mike” Todd, pastor of Transformation Church in Oklahoma, has taken to the internet to apologize for a “disgusting” sermon illustration that involved him smearing his mucus-laden spit on another man’s face during a Sunday sermon.
“I just want to acknowledge what happened yesterday when the spit hit the fan. I watched it back. And it was disgusting. Like, that was gross,” Todd said in a video published to his Facebook page on Monday, January 17. “I want to validate everybody’s feelings…. That was a distraction to what I was really trying to do. I was really trying to make the Word come alive and for people to see the story. But yesterday, it got too live. And I own that.”
Todd acknowledged that being “passionate” about getting people to feel hope and connect with Jesus has led him to attempt “to do extreme things to help people get it.” However, he said, “[Y]esterday it crossed the line.”
“I apologize for my example being too extreme and disgusting!” he wrote in the caption of his Facebook post.
Sermon Illustration Gone Awry
Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Transformation Church live-streams its Sunday services, inviting a national and global audience.
For his January 16 sermon, Todd preached on the theme of “Clearly: The Vision For Invasion” in an effort to inspire congregants to align with God’s purported plans for the Tulsa church and for their life.
The Relationship Goals and Crazy Faith author used Mark 8:22-25 as the primary text for his message. That part of Scripture relates how Jesus “ took [a] blind man by the hand and led him outside the village” of Bethsaida to miraculously restore his sight — by spitting on and touching the man’s eyes.
Riffing off of that passage, Todd emphasized how Jesus gave the man “clear vision” and insisted that God wanted to do the same for congregants. However, he told them, they should anticipate being taken out of their comfort zones and for God to do something “nasty.”
To illustrate his point, Todd called a man he identified as his younger brother up to the stage and had him close his eyes, as if he was the blind man in Mark 8. Eventually, the pastor had the man face the congregation. He proceeded to hock loogies into his palm and, as the audience gasped, Todd then smeared his bodily fluids onto his brother’s face.
The point, according to Todd: “God’s saying, ‘Can you physically and spiritually and emotionally be able to stand? When getting the vision or receiving it might get nasty?’ I’m gonna say it in a point just like that: receiving vision from God might get nasty.”
Spitting Spectacle Goes Viral
The scene was so shocking to some watching the livestream that video clips of Todd’s act started circulating on social media and led to his name becoming a trending topic on Twitter. By Monday morning, his act seemed to have hit headlines around the world.
While his “nasty” sermon illustration inspired scorn and ridicule, some fellow Christian pastors and ministers took his behavior to heart.
“I’m so tired of pastors abusing their power. Passing off exegetical violence as fresh revelation. It is spiritual abuse and it is a foul stench in the nostrils of the Lord. This is one of the reasons why people are leaving the church. I’m grieved,” public theologian and “Truth’s Table” podcast co-host Ekemini Uwan tweeted.
“Y’all, pray. Pray for pastors, myself included. Pray that pastors resist the urge to choose spectacle over stewardship, shock factor over shepherding, ‘high impact’ over humility — especially now. Character matters. May our collective witness glorify Christ and Christ alone,” tweeted Ashlee Eiland, co-lead pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Todd, married with four children, was a music producer before taking on the role of pastor at Transformation Church in 2015. In addition to being known for his passionate sermons, the charismatic preacher also has a reputation for incorporating unique illustrations to try to drive his messages home — such as preaching from a boat afloat in water on stage. He most recently made headlines last July when Transformation Church gave survivors and supporting businesses more than $1 million in “reparations” for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
Todd’s Apology for His ‘Vision Sunday’ Illustration
Hey, what’s going on everybody, I hope you’re having an amazing Monday.
I just want to acknowledge what happened yesterday when the spit hit the fan. I watched it back. And it was disgusting. Like, that was gross. I want to validate everybody’s feelings. That that was a distraction to what I was really trying to do. I was really trying to make the Word come alive and for people to see the story. But yesterday, it got too live. And I own that.
And I just want to make sure people know that we want to help people. We want people to see Jesus, we want people to feel loved. We want people who are desperate to be able to find hope. And I’m passionate about that. So much so that I’ve tried to do extreme things to help people get it, and yesterday it crossed the line. So I love you guys. I appreciate everybody that’s been praying for us and sending us messages.
And to anybody who just saw that three-minute clip, I really encourage you to go back and watch the whole message. There’s some truth and some life in there that could potentially change your whole life.
When Jesus spit on that man, he was blind and then he could see. For my brother who I love and honor so much, I just called him. He was bald before I spit on him and he’s still bald today. So no miracle here. And so next time I’ll rethink and do something differently.
I love everybody. I’m praying for everybody. And Transformation nation, thank you for riding. We’re gonna re-present God to the lost and found for transformation in Christ. All right, everybody have an amazing week. Peace.