We live in a very perilous time indeed. Every strata of the society is being affected. No sector is spared. What the society looks like is a reflection of the people who live in there. Many things have been said about churches in Nigeria. Nigeria itself has been dubbed one of the most religious nations in the world. Nigeria seems to be in the frontline of ‘exporting’ the word of God around the world. Nigeria position in the committee of nations that ‘ hawk’ God’s word cannot be pushed to the background.
Nigeria may not be known for many things but when it comes to oil and religion, we are very pronounced. Prior to independence, Nigeria churches were in the forefront of establishing standard, affordable schools which propelled knowledge as well as spread the light of western education. Missionary schools as they were called then were strong enough to compete with any quality education obtained across the globe. Immediately after the independence, most schools were taken over by governments at different levels. So church became inactive. In health, there were outstanding Catholic hospitals which services were top ranged and zero to nothing in terms of cost.
Nigeria churches then were involved in many social change process and people developmental projects. They organized adult education classes as well. With the oil boom and post 1980s era, Nigeria churches took the back seat. Along the line several bad eggs also crept into churches. With Pentecostal spirit, many non denominational churches also sprang up.
At this point, quality of human resources at the top echelon of the church as well as societal impact also became compromised. Everyone who ‘received’ call of God’ opened a church. The focus for most of them changed from impact to self serving motives. It is about unhealthy competition which range from church sizes, calibre of church members and not the quality of relationship and character.
Most church leaders began to place priority or numbers of cars at the church car parks. The ‘Men of God’ also did not want to be found wanting. They bought posh cars to celebrate the kind of great “God’ they serve. Character, integrity and honesty that are always in built standard of church pew and pulpits vanished into the air. Men of God became untouchable as well.
It was easy for Politicians to buy some of them as well. Politicians want association that can enhance their popularity but are not willing to pay the sacrifice certain association membership require. A major church event is not completed until a frontline political leader is invited and prayed for. Church of God then became unaccountable to known. They are seen as mouthpiece e of the gods.
Most churches forget the essence of its establishment which is to redeem mankind from slavery, injustice, feeding the poor and make life more meaning for the oppressed. In the late 90s some churches woke up.
They saw opportunity in the rotten Nigeria education system and they lashed on into it. Many church affiliated schools sprang up. Unfortunately many of their church members could not afford the fees charged. The argument then was many elites were willing to pay high fee for their wards’ education in private school, so why would church members not pay for quality education being offered by churches. Church had forgotten it had to shine the light. In the light of all the mess, there had been some shining lights among Nigerian churches which had stood the test of time.
Their deeds might have remained unsung but we must appreciate the valuable contributions they are making in their own environments. The churches may not be perfect but they help the world to see there is another way of doing church. People may demand more from them because they feel they are mega churches but how many critics of these remnant churches have taken time to see what they are doing beyond the ‘flambouyancy’ they assumed they are demonstrating. House on The Rocks had been heavily involved in rehabilitation of drug users and homeless persons in Obalende area of Lagos Nigeria.
Redeemed Christian church of God had built a Cancer Centre, Freedom House apart from rehabilitation of homeless persons, had commissioned several social development projects across Nigeria. Paul Eneche’s church in Abuja had commissioned several outstanding electricity projects, Salvation Church led by David Ibiomiye In Port Harcourt, River State Nigeria had been noted to have contributed several developmental projects in that State.
Not to forget is Daystar Christian Church Lagos Nigeria led by visionary Sam Adeyemi. This church since early 2000 had been noted to be associated with building, reconstruction of several schools. It has sent major relief material to persons affected by drought, war among others. It has silently repaired several road projects. Its ‘blessed to be a blessing’ captioned B2B, yearly medical and educational outreaches had provided free health services and educational materials across Lagos State Nigeria.
The church had paid health bills of several people in the society both within and outside Nigeria .To add to these, its quarterly skills acquisition project had trained thousands of people who had become entrepreneurs. On October 6, 2014 again, Sam Adeyemi. moved with the plight of Ebola ravaged Countries in West Africa initiated a One Million US ($1Millon) dollar fund raising project which could help them contained this deadly virus. Sam Adeyemi. personally committed One Million Naira to this project out of his own income. For those who are in the known, Sam Adeyemi.is not on the payroll of the church founded by him.
Nigeria churches may not be a bed of roses, but there are still remnants who are involved in national building and development. The challenge with many of them is that they will rather obey the biblical injunction of ‘ do not let your right hand and left hands know what you are doing’, They believe there is more reward in heaven than broadcasting such. So many people are not aware of these outstanding good works some of them are doing. As a concerned professional, we believe it is high time Nigeria church in Nigeria learn how to strategical promote its good deeds as no one can light a candle and put it under a bushel if it is to fulfill its purpose.
Nigeria churches may not be at its best yet, in terms of leadership, legislation, and organization. But it can be said to have outperformed many of its contemporaries around the globe. We can only call on church association to become pacesetters of what is good and fully represent this in the society. In conclusion critics must not also forget, church is made up of people like them. Any human organization cannot be prefect so the church has never claimed to be a perfect agglomeration of people. Just that to whom much is given, much is expected.