NIGERIA’S CHURCH RISKS JUDGMENT
Dr Francis Bola Akin John
He’s a Church Growth consultant who trains pastors and church workers leadership and church growth principles. His worries about today’s church is that many pastors have missed the vision of what the church is due to craving for material aggrandizement. He shares his thought in an interview the Editor, IMA NKANTA
Shift in focus
The focus of the church in Nigeria today is not on building people, preparing them for rapture, but on material things, and in order to achieve this, preachers have placed more emphasis on money and prophecies. 85 % of messages now focus on money. In the past 25 years, many pastors have emerged purposely for their stomach, and not heaven. Even most of us that have genuine call from God have joined the bandwagon. We have missed focus. That’s why we are not affecting the society.
In my recent article in a national newspaper on contributions of the church to the society, I stated that the church in the first half of 25 years of history of Nigeria contributed much than the church in the immediate past 25 years of the 50 years of Nigeria’s existence. The performance of the church has not been inspiring, and if we don’t turn around and begin to produce disciples with godly lifestyle, the church in Nigeria might be waiting for God’s judgment. We must repent as leaders and stop turning church to business ventures. Judgment may not come as a thunder but gradually, like what is happening today to the American preachers. Preachers that see ministry as big business may be awaiting judgment. But the saving grace is that we go back to true righteousness and gospel that can save us from this evil world.
Bishop title is more of a curse than it’s a blessing to Pentecostals
It’s money! Make no mistake about it because when you become a bishop you have money, you are popular, you have best things of life. But the problem is that you lose spirituality. You know it’s like a club that people get into, but they won’t tell you all that. Bishop title scripturally is the lowest rank.. The highest rank should be a brother or a servant, a minister; that’s what we are called. But the craze for money has driven many to elevate bishop as a title above the rest, but that’s not correct. It’s just an administrative title. But unfortunately they have turned it to something else. Others called themselves apostles…who made you an apostle? You can have apostolic calling but not necessarily an apostle by title. Others just wake up and say they are prophets because they give a word of prophecy. It’s not so, it takes years and lots of work to be an apostle or prophet.
Actually the bishop title is more of a curse to the church today than it is a blessing. A great number of them fall into adultery, become government contractors and go after money. Most of them do it in secret, but it’s gradually coming to the open. There’s a popular bishop in Western part of Nigeria whose ministry made great spiritual impact years back, but today he’s rising and falling headlong into adultery. You know Bishop Elarl Paulk of Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in USA ordained most early Pentecostal bishops in Nigeria. But unknown to Nigerian pastors he was deep in adultery with two women in his church. It took time before the scandal was blown open. Earl Paulk is now dead and his church sold. That was how he transferred adultery into these bishops in Nigeria while alive.
I advise those who go for the bishop title to pray hard before accepting it because even the consecration is more of a ceremony than spiritual. We can do this work without title. But unfortunately we have bastardized it.
I have said it all, whoever wants to go into the bishop’s office is free but we have seen the implication of it. If the negative consequences of it do not catch up with you now, it may come up later in life. The fact that it’s popular does not mean that it’s good. Unfortunately, so many people are following people into wrong thing. It shouldn’t be because every one of us will give account to God. Many Bishops now are ostentatious and worldly, let’s drop this title.
You will find many of these bishops going to bow down for government. It is not the church that should bow down for government; it is the government that should bow down for the church. Also the church has been taking money from ungodly people on the pretext that the wealth of the ungodly is for the church; that type of preaching is unbiblical and is misleading people. Preachers should go back to the bible, and stop the gimmicks and politics.
Our country cannot be saved when the church goes after material things. That was the error of the American and Canadian church. Let’s go back to the truth and demand also that people should live by the truth. Let the church be the bastion of truth and beacon of our life. Let’s stop using fake vision and prophecy for money. Let’s teach the word and people will give on their own volition. If we start shining the light in our very small corner, very soon the whole place will be full of light.
The New Focus
Go back to discipleship. That is the new direction; wining souls and making them fanatics of Jesus. Even pastors should be disciples and teach it and preach it. We should demand it from all the Christians. We should not just say people should be in church but people should show others to Jesus. Everyone should go back to discipleship.
Also, we must be conscious of who becomes a Pastor. If we continue to allow fornicators and armed robbers become Pastors overnight, then the church has no future. A pastor must be someone of high character and deep in the things of the Lord. If we really want to bring change to the church, that’s the revival we want.
Of course God wants to use Nigeria for endtime harvest, and all over the world, Nigerian pastors are popular but we lack character and are beginning to create a bad image, so we must go back to character development and discipleship.