Research Proposals

PROLIFERATION OF CHURCHES AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY

PROLIFERATION OF CHURCHES AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Historically, Christianity came to Nigeria in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal (Haruna 2018). Missionary activity in the 15th century was minimal because the overriding commercial interest in slave trade and pepper took prominence (Adamolekun 2012). After the abolition of slave trade there was fresh religious enthusiasm amongst the Europeans and Americans (Adamolekun 2012).

The successful expansion of the Christian missions in Nigeria started in the 19th century with different missionary groups trying to establish their influence (Okpalike & Nwadialor 2015). The first mission of the Church of England was established in 1842 by Henry Townsend in Badagry (Haruna 2018). They were followed by other Protestant denominations from Britain, Canada and the United States and in the 1860s by Roman Catholic religious orders (Metz 1991).

The proliferation of churches in Nigeria has been a significant phenomenon with far-reaching effects on the country’s society. Nigeria, with its diverse religious landscape, has experienced a rapid increase in the number of churches across the country. This proliferation has had both positive and negative effects on Nigerian society, impacting various aspects such as culture, politics, economy, and social dynamics.

 

PROLIFERATION OF CHURCHES AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY

Moreover, this rapid multiplication of churches is borne out of the understanding that in Nigeria, there is freedom of religious worship. The pace at which churches are spreading like a wildfire is very alarming (Asukwo and Aniefiiok, 2022).

According to Asukwo and Aniefiiok (2022), one of the notable effects of the proliferation of churches in Nigerian society is the influence on culture and traditions. The presence of numerous churches has contributed to a transformation in cultural practices and belief systems. This has led to changes in societal norms, values, and even language use. Additionally, the rise of charismatic and Pentecostal churches has brought about new forms of religious expression and worship styles, influencing the cultural fabric of Nigerian society.

The proliferation of churches has had implications for politics and governance in Nigeria. Churches and religious leaders have increasingly played influential roles in shaping political discourse and participating in socio-political activities. This has led to debates regarding the separation of church and state, as well as concerns about the potential politicization of religious institutions.

 

Economically, the growth of churches has created a significant industry within Nigeria. The establishment of churches has led to the development of related businesses and services, including media outlets, publishing houses, educational institutions, and tourism centered around religious sites. This economic impact has contributed to job creation and investment opportunities but has also raised questions about financial transparency and accountability within religious organizations.

Socially, the proliferation of churches has influenced community dynamics and social relationships. Churches often serve as centers for social activities, welfare programs, and community development initiatives. However, this expansion has also led to competition among religious groups for followers and resources, sometimes resulting in tensions and divisions within communities.

Undeniable, the proliferation of churches in Nigeria recently is one issue that has attracted reasonable attention. A stroll down the average Nigeria Street will reveal the widespread presence of churches (Efe, 2012; Morgan, 2015). And with thousands of registered churches within its domain. It is pertinent to ask what factors account for the proliferation of churches in Nigeria.

In reaction to this question, Ajiki (2008), Efe (2012), Olukayode (2013), observed that the proliferation of churches in Nigeria is to a certain extent the result of schisms and break-away. This was significantly fuelled by Martin Luther’s revolution that laid the foundation for the proliferation of churches.

Many scholars (Efe, 2012; Morgan 2015; Ajiki, 2008; Olukayode 2013) attributed the proliferation of churches in Nigeria to poverty and the rise of materialism in our society. Consequently, little regard is paid to the means of attainment as material wealth has become an end in itself. As such, many poor and average Nigerians are surrounded by signs and symbols of wealth.

 

Moreover, churches are noted to be springing up at an alarming and unprecedented rate in all available spaces, shops, warehouses, hotels, sitting rooms, uncompleted building, both private and public school premises to mention a few. The proliferation 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.

 

The present rate of Church Proliferation 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. Therefore, this aimed to examine proliferation of churches and its effects on the Nigerian society.

 

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The rapid growth of churches in Nigeria has raised questions about their impact on social, cultural, economic, and political dynamics within the country. This phenomenon has also sparked debates about the role of religion in shaping Nigerian society and its implications for governance, community development, and individual well-being.

The problem of church proliferation in Nigeria encompasses several interconnected dimensions. Firstly, the sheer number of churches in the country has led to concerns about competition, fragmentation, and division within the Christian community. This has implications for religious leadership, doctrinal diversity, and the allocation of resources.

 

Additionally, the rise of new churches has raised questions about their theological orientations, practices, and ethical standards. The influx of charismatic and Pentecostal churches has reshaped religious landscapes and challenged traditional denominational structures.

Furthermore, the proliferation of churches has intersected with broader social issues such as poverty, inequality, and corruption. Some critics argue that certain churches exploit vulnerable populations by promoting prosperity gospel theology or engaging in fraudulent activities.

 

Others contend that the growth of churches has contributed to social cohesion, community empowerment, and philanthropic initiatives. The influence of churches on politics and governance is another area of concern, as some religious leaders have become influential actors in shaping public policies and electoral processes.

Moreover, the impact of church proliferation extends to cultural norms, gender relations, and family dynamics. Changes in religious practices and beliefs have implications for individual identities, moral values, and social norms. The role of women in church leadership and ministry has also been a subject of debate within Nigerian society. Additionally, the emergence of mega-churches and televangelism has transformed modes of religious communication, media consumption, and popular culture. In light of these complexities, it is essential to critically examine the effects of church proliferation on Nigerian society; hence, the purpose of this study.

 

1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The main objective of this study was to examined proliferation of churches and its effects on the Nigerian society. Specifically, the sub-objectives of this study are:

  1. to examine the factors responsible for the proliferation of churches in Nigeria.
  2. To assess the effects of proliferation of churches on the Nigerian society.
  3. To examine the role of the church towards reducing moral decadence in the society.

 

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the factors responsible for the proliferation of churches in Nigeria?
  2. What are the effects of proliferation of churches on the Nigerian society?
  3. What are the roles of the church towards reducing moral decadence in the society?

 

1.6   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The following are the significance of this study:

  1. This study will contribute to a deeper understanding of religious diversity and its implications for societal dynamics.
  2. This study will offer insights into how church proliferation can contribute to or hinder community development efforts.
  3. Findings from this study will educate the church administrators and the general public in Nigeria on the merits and demerits of massive Church Proliferation in Nigeria.
  4. It will serve as documents that will enlighten the Christian leaders on the need to embark on teaching of morality in churches.
  5. This study is going to find the reason(s) why the spreading of churches has negative impact, and also aims to examine the cause(s) of church proliferation in the nation that has no effect.
  6. 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.

 

1.7   SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

This study on proliferation of churches and its effects on the Nigerian society will cover the spate at which new churches are been established in Nigeria with a view of identifying the it’s numerous effects on the Nigerian society.

 

1.8    Limitations of study

Some of the challenges encountered while conducting the research include lack of sufficient funds and short duration assigned for the study.

 

1.9    Definition of Terms

          Proliferation: Proliferation refers to the rapid increase or growth of something, especially in a rapid and uncontrolled manner.

Church Proliferation: Proliferation in the context of the church refers to the rapid growth or spread of religious beliefs, practices, or institutions. It can also refer to the increase in the number of religious denominations or sects within a particular faith tradition. Proliferation may occur due to missionary activities, evangelism, or religious revival movements, leading to the establishment of new congregations, churches, or religious organizations. The term can also encompass the diversification and expansion of theological perspectives, worship styles, and religious expressions within a given religious community.

Church: A church building or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services. The term is often used by Christians to refer to the physical buildings where they worship, but it is sometimes used (by analogy) to refer to buildings of other religions.

Effect: Effect is a term that refers to the result or consequence of an action, event, or phenomenon. It is often used to describe the impact or influence that one thing has on another. Effects can be both positive and negative, and they can manifest in various ways, such as changes in behavior, physical alterations, or shifts in the environment.

 

CONCLUSION

Looking at the effects of the proliferation of Churches in Nigerian society, 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.

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.

 

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Ikemesit

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

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