CHURCH PLANTING IN NIGERIA ISSUES AND PROSPECTS

CHURCH PLANTING IN NIGERIA ISSUES AND PROSPECTS
CHURCH PLANTING IN NIGERIA ISSUES AND PROSPECTS

CHURCH PLANTING IN NIGERIA ISSUES AND PROSPECTS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Without reservation, Church planting is a process that results in a new Christian church being established. It is a necessity for Christians for the purpose of the propagation of the gospel especially in strict compliance with the injunction of Christ that believers should go into the world and preach the gospel to all nations.

Church planting does not only help to discover the talents of members (especially the ones that are made leaders among them) and enhancing their God given potentials; it also provides an environment for fostering new and creative approaches – exploring new possibilities for biblical and relevant expressions of church that honor God and reach friends with the gospel. It may also prove to be the most significant way to hand on faith to new generations (Kooistra 2011, p 12).

 

Christians especially the missionary and clergy men have always believed that the most effective way to reach the world for Christ is by starting new churches. Thus, ahis is why every people group and community needs a church. However, according to many scholars, the church is the hope of the world which is why they are committed to building mission-minded, transformational churches among every people group and community in the world.

Our global society today is undergoing significant constant proliferation and planting of churches which have brought not only changing values, but also greater source of solutions to people’s problems. This rapid multiplication of churches is borne out of the understanding that in Nigeria, there is freedom of religious worship.

 

Central to the constant planting and proliferation of churches is the issues of its environmental effects on the people in the society and the prospects as it’s provide solution to people’s problems which this research is out to address. To an observant mind, the pace at which churches are spreading like a wildfire in Nigeria is alarming. In the country, there is freedom of worship, places of worship are full, pilgrimages are over-booked and there is evidence of religious expansion all over the places.

Many people were cashing in on the situation of massive church planting, as they launch new religious organizations and societies. There is evidence that many are just charlatans looking for a means of livelihood. Many are perhaps genuinely religious. But it is obvious that our society has not become upright. It certainly has not become peaceful. There have been and still many hot and cold wars in the name of religion (Fayomi, 1993).

 

Churches are noted to be springing up at an alarming and unprecedented rate in all available spaces, shops and uncompleted buildings. Worship come up in warehouses, hotels, abandoned cinema buildings, studios and other public places. It is a common sight to see a minimum of fifty different churches on a street of four kilometres long. This may paint a terrible picture, but such is the present spate of church planting and planting in the country.

The planting of churches in Nigeria today is as a result of numerical strength of churches which was a result of church growth. This rapid multiplication of churches according to Ibiyinka (2011) borne out of the understanding that there is freedom of religious worship in Nigeria.

 

The society is witnessing proliferation of churches which has brought changes in values, created job employment, Western Education by establishing both Elementary and Tertiary Institution and Hospitals. Likewise it is a great source of solution to people’s problems.

However, the negative effects brought about by the proliferation of churches are over riding the good side of it which is reflecting in the current situation in the country where corruption and moral decadence are the order of the day. It is sad and disheartening that the springing up of churches nowadays fails to stop or reduce moral decadence in the society which ought to be the major impact of churches in our society.

 

Many people were using the spreading of churches like wild fire for means of livelihood which flicked in our society for not becoming upright and not peaceful. There have been and still are many hot and cold wars in the name of religions according to Fayomi (1993) and confirmed by Nigeria Newspoint (2015).

The present rate of church planting in the country is such as having a minimum of fifty different churches on a street of few kilometers long, having some or more different churches sharing the same story building in Urban Areas and Cities where there are lack of space. This situation made the columnist of the Nigeria Newspoint (2015) categorically asserted that Nigeria is a country with the largest number of churches per capital in the world” and that Nigeria has become a fertile soil for the growth of independent churches.

 

Many greedy pastors were taking advantages of freedom of worship or religious practices to launch new churches, religious organizations and societies as a means of livelihood, encouraging robberies, stealing, corruptions and crimes by praying for members that brought or donated a huge amount of money as gifts or worship offerings without propping to ascertain the source of the money.

The negative impacts on the nation is not peculiar on the planting of churches alone, the spreading of the two major religions, Christianity and Islam in the nation which led to increase in churches and mosques, in turn led to increase in the number of Pastors and Muslim clerics which has a negative impacts on the leaders at the helm of affairs of the nation.

 

According to Olagoke (2016) a Muslim cleric, the propagation of the two religions has failed the nation and has no positive influence on the national leaders which resulted to the present economy recession, wide spread corruption, high rate of criminal activities and corrupted leaders in the nation.

 

The national leaders are under the teachings of either Pastors or Muslim clerics. Which ought to have positive impact on them, and this has reflected in the governance of the nation if the pastors and the Muslim clerics perform their roles as priests of God and not priests of stomachs.

The way of governance and high rate of crimes witnessing in the nation are clear evidence of negative impacts of the planting of both churches and mosques on the nation, Nigeria.

In fact, in a statement made by Ogidi (1997), he categorically asserts that. “Nigeria is a country with easily the largest number of churches per capital in the world.” (Ogidi, 1997). Fayomi (1993) also described Nigeria as “a fertile soil for the growth of independent churches.”(Fayomi 1993).

 

In urban cities and even rural areas, for lack of space and accommodation, six or more different churches could make do with a storey building. Such is the present state of events all over Nigeria. For example, in Ekiti State, as rightly observed by Tokunbo (2007). There are well above One hundred and fifty-seven Pentecostal denominations alone between 1970 and 2004 (Tokunbo, 2007).

 

Furthermore, more parishes and new religious movements continue to be springing up each passing day. Thus, the spiritual discernment reportedly used by the Pastors and leaders planting churches in Nigeria is, “We prayed about it, and God said go and establish your own church.”

In addition, several factors have been found to be responsible for this massive church planting. They include economic recession, rapid evangelization, beliefs and practices, unhealthy rivalry, genuine thirst for spiritual nourishment, theological issues, fanaticism, leadership tussle and the likes (Falayi, 1998).

 

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The phenomenon of church planting has its merits and demerits. Specifically, the merits include, rapid evangelization, development of new leadership, provision of checks and balances to orthodox churches. Without a doubt, promotes specialization in ministry and enhances the provision of an atmosphere. Thus, in which human problems are at times solved (Adesanya, 2004).

 

On the other hand, the demerits include, personality clashes, unhealthy competition for convert via homiletical propaganda, lack of unity, monetary crises, heresies, fanaticism and bickering (Tokunbo, 2007). Although, massive church planting has certain demerits as noted above. But they are not strong enough for total condemnation of the phenomenon. This is because Jesus was reported in the Bible to have said that, the Gospel should be preached to all nations (Mk. 16:15).

Then, Paul in Philippians 1:15-18, supports church planting and proliferation for the expansion of the kingdom of God. This is because religion is not fossil, but a living and dynamic phenomenon. It will surely continue to increase. However, the researcher is out to examine the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria.
  2. To determine the merits and demerits of massive church planting in Nigeria.
  3. To examine the factors encouraging church planting in Nigeria.

 

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. What are the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria?
  2. What are the merits and demerits of massive church planting in Nigeria?
  3. What are the factors encouraging the proliferation of churches in Nigeria?

 

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The following are the significance of this study:

  1. Findings from this study will educate the church administrators and the general public in Nigeria on the merits and demerits of massive church planting in Nigeria.
  2. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.

 

SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

This study on the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria will cover the spate at which new churches are been established in Nigeria with a view of identifying the merits and the demerits.

 

Limitations of study

  1. Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
  2. Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

 

4.2 Answers to the Research Questions

Research Question One: What are the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria?

S/N   N Mean Std. Deviation Decision
1 Church planting is one of the issues that bring about missionary commitment in the existing Churches 28 2.8000 .75593 Accepted
2 Crusades and Church retreats are conducted in the villages which predisposes the villagers to having direct asses to the gospel. 28 2.5000 .98974 Accepted
3 Almost all the cities are filled up with Churches 28 2.8000 1.17803 Accepted
4 Church planting helped in taking the gospel to even the remotest parts of the country. 28 2.7000 .90351 Accepted
5 Church planting bring about expansion of the Christian Gospel 28 3.0000 .90351 Accepted
  Valid N (listwise) 28      

 

From the responses of the respondents. It can be inferred that church planting is one of the issues that bring about missionary commitment in the existing churches. Crusades and church retreats are conducted in the villages which predisposes the villagers to having direct asses to the gospel.

However, almost all the cities are filled up with churches. Church planting helped in taking the gospel to even the remotest parts of the country and church planting bring about expansion of the Christian Gospel. Therefore, these are as agreed by the respondents for this study.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, looking at the effects of the proliferation of Churches in Nigeria. It seems to have brought more chaos and disadvantages than the expected gains that religion is expected to offer. This is because one of the purposes of religion is to bring succor to mankind but in our own idea and worldview it is relatively subjective. That is why recently through the media the westerners regard African preachers as opportunists. Because they believe that most of our preachers go into Church not because of any divine mandate, but because they see Church opening as a business venture.

 

However, there is no gainsaying the fact that Church planting in Nigeria could be a blessing if properly managed and guided. But sound teaching of the Bible can promote faith, hope to the members and both spiritual and physical sound doctrine.

Again, there is the urgent need among the mainline Churches to look at the necessity of readdressing the orthodox liturgy without altering the substance of it. This will make the liturgy to be very relevant to the Nigerian contemporary society.

 

More so, the dullness and orthodoxy of the frontline Churches should be reviewed. And this will enhance the usage of the liturgy and equally make it to be vibrant in line with current societal demands of the new generation Christians. Moreover, Christians in our modern society are tired of the old system of the liturgy in the long established Churches.

And this has been one of the reasons why some members used to formulate flimsy excuses and decide to secede under the guise of “God has called me”.

 

Thus, if the mainline Churches can adopt this step of revisiting the old liturgy, then the tendency to lose membership will be checked to a great deal. Usually new ideas can easily carry the youths away. Therefore, it requires investigation of the liturgical in most of the old Churches.

Finally, Ecumenism should be intensified since the phenomenon of Church planting has come to stay with us. Indeed Churches should be more united and have the goal of winning souls for Christ. Also, they should always make their emphasis on the things that hold members together. Rather than what will divide them or separate them, because Christ himself is a peace maker not a destroyer.

About Ikemesit 130 Articles
Ikemesit Akpan is my name. I am a Nigerian author. I work with projectboss.com.ng. I'm a researcher and a writer of academic research. ikemesitetukapan20233@gmail.com