Religion Magazine

Let’s Talk About the Nigerian Church (1), By Fola Ojo

By Samoluexpress @Oluwasegunsomef

By Fola Ojo

A catholic church

A catholic church
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A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion. The number of Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years.  Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32 per cent) as they did a century ago (35 per cent). From the remotest and most obscure nook and cranny of Nigeria to the main street of every monumental mega-city, it is not a struggle to find galleria gatherings of people shouting “Alleluia, Praise the Lord”, with enthusiasm and fervour.

In our nation today, there is almost no street spared of a church building in-situ. Some of these church structures are shacks and shanties, and lots of them look like royalty dwelling places. Even in the most treacherous parts of Nigeria where Christianity is adamantly abhorred, the audacity of church-planters to take their messages to those cities, villages and towns has neither flickered nor waned. Nigeria, I will declare, is a “church nation”.

With a paltry population of about 5,000 people, my home town of Imesi-Ile in Osun  State boasts about 20 churches! This fact further confirms that churches in Nigeria are on a fast-track spurt. About one-mile radius of my residence in Ibadan, there are at least 30 churches with imposing, mind-boggling, eye-popping edifices from where worshippers are not austere at all with speaking in tongues, singing, dancing, and shouting any hour of the day, and any minute of the night.  Over the last decade in Nigeria, the church has exponentially exploded in numerical strength.

Some people frown on this growth and tag it “too much religion”, while a significant number of people say; “we need more”. What is truly behind the sudden growth of churches? There will never be a consensus answer. However, if spiritual renewal of the society and celestial sanitisation of the citizenry become the results of the phenomenal growth, great applause goes to the initiators.

What I express in this treatise is not done self-righteously, but it is about the fungi among us on the other side whose walks are questionable, and whose drives are dastardly.There are men and women of God scattered all over our nation who are doing awesome work of help and relief on the mission field. There are many men and women, names you have never heard and faces you may never see on televisions who are committed to helping the helpless. These people have no access to the internet, no Twitter account, no Facebook page and website, but they have character, integrity and commitment to do the needful for others who are in squalour. I know great men and women of God in Nigeria, men with impeccable character, and men of integrity, men who say what they mean and insist on what they say even if the weather is not comfortable.  Men who do not attempt to help God with miracles from the oracles, and signs and wonders that make many families sigh in pain and ponder. True men and women of God they are, and we salute them.

However, the church is more than somebody shouting, Alleluia! it is more than an excited group of people humming, “Amen”, after each prayer point, and more than just an arm of liberation from spiritual illiteracy. The church is to function as a sanatorium of societal reformation, a builder of the character of the citizenry, a refuge for the helpless and hopeless, and a living example of righteous living and lifestyle. The church is to walk a path that is asphalted with integrity, purity, probity, and straight talk. The church is to keep a distance from gloating after filthy lucre which is the root of all manner of evils that are now our bedfellows in Nigeria.  The church ought to help build a country by building its members who are assigned to build the country in various political and governmental capacities.  A Christian president, governor, senator, administrator, and civil servant should listen not just to their pastor’s talks, but watch and walk also his walks. The lifestyles of church leaders are what our political leaders should emulate and mimic.

If the church leader’s word is a waffle and his walk a wobble, if his behavioural gaits aren’t steady, if his gluttonous gestures are all that we see, and everything he pursues rises and falls on an insatiable salivation for money and more money, and anaide to the Calisthenics of crippling cascade of corruption that has erected edifices in all corners of Nigeria, then there is a problem that we must address.

If the church is becoming an eyesore, a conglomerate of con-artistry, a domain of maddening mercantilism, and a haven where both the lettered and unlettered are celebrating their multi-million dollar vessels and vestries on a feverish frequency, then there is a problem we all must address.

If the church of the Living God has become a deliberately designed escape parachute from poverty, unemployment and un-employability, if it has become an audacious advertisement and advancement of boisterous bling, a rambunctious rape and rake of the meagre pennies of the poor in church, then there is a problem we must address.

If the church is an enclave of mind-manipulation, arm-twisting, and  a center where Godly truth is thwarted to serve a selfish goal and hidden agenda of church leaders, then there is a problem we must address.

If the church of the Living God has become a pavilion where known thieves among our affluent population are celebrated in the pews’ front-row or seated high up on the altar, and the pastor deliberately mutes his own voice of correction against these erring men and women in order to encourage massive donation to church projects, then there is a problem we must address.

If the church turns blind eyes to those who have become thorns in the flesh of our society causing the nation to keep haemorrhaging to a panic level as a result of greed, graft and gluttony, then there is a problem to be addressed.

If the church of the Living God encourages  looters to loot as long as they agree to drop a bite of their loot on the “altar” of God, and truth-telling on the altar is compromised by recurrent and repeated  slabber, slobber and slaver for funny money, then there is a problem we all need to address.

If some churches seem to have become a dormitory for demons in the images of men, and an arsenal of illicit activities perpetrated by those hungry for control, payroll, and power, then there is a problem we must address.

If men go into the church as innocent hopefuls but come out battered and bruised with life worse-off as a result of immense pressure to satisfy self-serving, aggrandising “servants” of God with their meagre incomes, then there is a problem we must address.

The church in many nations of the world is losing its savour and flavour, and in Nigeria, many churches are turning many people off and this in turn cranks up the heat of hatred and disregard for Godly pastors on Godly assignments. The reverence for Holy men and women of God is fading off fast, and many are losing confidence and trust daily in the church and its shepherds.  There are people who sit in the church every Sunday who are now unsure if the sermons we hear on the pulpit and the gymnastic gyration of some giants on the altar of God in Nigeria and even beyond may not be, after all, about the soul, but about the dough!

To be continued…

•Ojo wrote in from Houston, USA, via [email protected]

Source: Punch(Opinion)

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