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Has the Church Failed Us?

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In every mile radius in the City of Lagos, a church exists. For most of these churches, there are plans to sprawl into more concaves in the Lagos metropolis and even bigger plans for a megachurch. Most event spaces can testify to the fact that a lot of their revenue is generated from churches that rent their space as much as weddings and corporate events. There are certain popular spots which seem impossible to book for a function on Sundays because they have already been reserved and paid for, a year in advance. So you know that these spaces don’t come cheap.

With this at the back of one’s mind, it can be safe to say that, as a city, we probably have more churches than local constituencies;plus, with an ever-increasing congregation seemingly becoming jaded and apolitical, we are seeing the church at the height of its influential status. This makes it an institution even more powerful than the political framework governing the state. This is of course in terms of influence, not finance or decision making abilities.

Though the church is typically known as the place that disseminates the teachings of the Bible, its followers form a community seeking both personal and spiritual fulfillment. As we watch our leaders throw jabs at each other in the dailies and on the news while infrastructure debilitates in front of our eyes – healthcare, transport, education, power and everything else – the people turn to the church for even much more. In the last few months of researching different subjects for our radio programme, mostly in areas relating to health care and education, I had uncovered new discoveries that made me ask the question a little too many times “what was your church doing?

The examples are countless. Fore instance, I recently spoke with one of the doctors from the Sebeccly Cancer Care and Support Centre. I was informed that quite a lot of the breast cancer patients they meet have advanced to the point where their nipples have fallen off and their breasts start to breed maggots. It’s left to them to look for any means necessary to raise funds for emergency mastectomies and chemotherapy treatment as they are a centre that provides after-care support for breast cancer patients, but sadly can’t turn people away that need their immediate help.

Or the singer whose sight was getting blurry and was told he had glaucoma and a few years later, he went to bed and woke up blind. Or the girl with epilepsy who was tied to a metal bed as it was thought that her seizures were a kind of demonic possession.

Or the girl who was being sexually abused by her uncle and couldn’t do much because he gave her the ultimatum of staying with him and getting a City education or going back to farm in the village. These stories only represent a miniscule amount of the people I have interviewed, but the common thread amongst them was that they spent extensive periods in church, praying, fasting and partaking in exorcisms and spiritual conventions, awaiting their break through moment. They all spoke to their church leaders who spoke to them about prayers and patience.

As sad as these stories were, I had also come in contact with faith-based groups with outreach programmes, educational scholarship programmes, youth rehabilitation and sex workers reformation schemes. I remember a young man we interviewed who had spent six years awaiting trial for armed robbery and, to be honest, he was just one amongst many. From Alagbon to Kirikiri, sixty to seventy percent of the inmates were awaiting trial and some had not even seen a court room. The young man was released on amnesty with the help of a Christian organisation who had been involved in prison ministration for decades. They helped to rehabilitate him, equipping him with skills to integrate back into society.

I was also privileged to watch a documentary created by another faith-based group. The film documented the underbelly of drug addiction here in Lagos and its devastating effects on the lives of its victims and their families. It showed heroine addicts shooting up and smoking tar under the bridge on Tin Can Island in Apapa and pregnant teenage girls in Akala, Mushin. The Church has created a refuge for most of the girls to start a new life away from their pimps as well as a treatment facility for addiction problems. They are constantly creating awareness on the new craze amongst young people using pharmaceutical drugs like Rhopynol (sometimes known as Ruffies or Roche) and cough syrup with heavy doses of Codeine to get high.

It is difficult to have a conversation with anyone without being interrupted by a thought that begins with the phrase “My pastor says…”. This just goes to show you how much influence the church has in our lives and existence. This influence is power and this power is a responsibility. It is a responsibility to not only teach the Word, but a responsibility to educate, empower, impact, love, care, give and most importantly change things. So, as we spend days in church re-enacting the “ Ayamatanga” series delivered from the power of darkness while the choir mistress’s stomach continues to swell from a growing tumour or the one sitting next to you smiles with a cloudy eye, and another fellow Church goer in the row in front of you spends a year loitering because they couldn’t afford to buy their JAMB form, you might want to reflect on what the vision of your church was in the first place and perhaps re-assess the execution of that vision and then ponder as to whether or not that vision reaches out to the congregants. I guess what I am saying in a nut shell is simple, Churches need to be visible, not just in erecting large dome-like buildings but also in spiritual, physical and material growth of it’s congregants and the community at large.

We don’t need more canopies, cordless microphones, megaphones and another architectural edifice in an already over-crowded metropolis. We need responsible people using the skills and gifts that God has put inside of them. With all said, the church is a community, and though communities have leaders, we as individuals make that community. So maybe the new question we should ask is: Have ‘we’ failed ‘us’?

Photo Credit: www.photos.indystar.com

68 Comments

  1. Sade

    January 6, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Very valid. The influence of the church is undeniable and the church has a huge role to play in society. Congregants must also come to an understanding of the role THEY have to play to help themselves. The pastors are not magicians.

    The word of God is available for every man to mine for himself. The church should only be used for support and guidance in the process of personal spiritual growth. Basically, everyone has a part to play for the whole thing to work as it should.

    Good piece!

    • lizzy

      January 6, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Thank you sade, very well said. Some people want to remain charity/benovolence cases in their church for years and when such churches try to make them learn a trade or, aquire a skill, they immediately go searching for another church who wil fill their belly.
      That aside, we as individuals owe it to ourselves to help that needy brother/sister around us, that neighbours child that lacks school uniforms or shoes either at church or in the streets.

    • Temiloluwa Adebayo

      January 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      I like your observation that pastors are not magicians. They can pray and try but WE ALL are the church. Not the pastor, not the choristers, but each and every one of us is the church.

      Therefore the question becomes, ‘have we failed ourselves and our society?’ The Bible makes it clear that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. How much of an influence are we imparting? This article has brought the need to look within. God help us to keep on making a stand.

      Nice article Wana. Very needed, very timely…

      http://temiville.wordpress.com/

    • ADAEZE

      January 7, 2011 at 1:09 am

      THE CHURCH WILL FAIL U WHEN U PUT HOPE IN IT. YOUR HOPE/TRUST/STRENGTH SHOULD BE ON GOD ALONE.

  2. sola

    January 6, 2011 at 10:28 am

    This is so true and I respect you for writing about it.
    I will not go into details as I do not want to be labelled the anti Christ…..but seriously, why would a suspended pastor (however silly the reason for suspension is) decide to go rent the most expensive place to start his own church….who is he proving a point to? or is it to show people you can pull a bigger crowd? Anyways, churches and church goers need to give back more to the society…..#thatsallimsaying

    • lizzy

      January 6, 2011 at 11:43 am

      Hi Sola, I don’t think calling any pastor out was the essence of this write up….thank you.

    • Miss N

      January 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      The intention of this write-up may not be to call any one Pastor out, but I think maybe that’s EXACTLY what we need to be doing… Calling out not just Pastors that have “failed” us or “fallen below expectations”, but also all other leaders… Who knows, perhaps naming and shaming these people will ginger them into progressive action…

  3. observer

    January 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

    The right question here as u correctly pointed out is,have we failed ourselves? Whilst I agree that the Church is very influential today but the onus is on individuals to use their heads. God did not put it on our necks for aesthetics only.Truth is churches and their leaders come in different shades. Some with noble agendas; most just to fill their pockets and in the process mislead, defraud and imprison’ people ‘but as I said earlier, it is the peoples responsibility eventually to use their minds. A lot of our people do not think for themselves. We feel faith and reason shouldn’t mix. Lies! As a popular soft drink brand said a few years ago “your best friend is ur head”. The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  4. ope awobotu

    January 6, 2011 at 10:48 am

    This is a wonderful trip into the way the lives of
    ‘Brethren’ are being handled.
    I don’t understand why some pastors think that
    Buying a hummer jeep and naming it ‘chariot’ or
    wearing expensive suits is a measure of the level
    Of anointing.
    The truth has been remixed to make people feel happy.
    I just wish people will understand that the christian race is a lonely race,u just can’t run it alone.
    Its a pity we won’t know these fake exploitive pastors until the last day when they’ll be revealed.
    God help us all.

    • BC

      January 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      LOL! @ buying a hummer jeep and calling it a chariot. Really?! Didn’t know that.

    • Babydee

      January 6, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      [email protected] “level of anointing”. I thought i was the only one who thinks about this oo

  5. unique

    January 6, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Well, some churches these days have now turn into business centers. The so called pastors preach the world of God but do not explain to the people what they are actually talking about.

    eg..according to the bible Jesus says my people perish for lack of knowledge/wisdom.

    This saying means: Use your God give head, Jesus came..died for all our sins and make us kings and prince over all things. We have the power to do whatsoever in our lives.

    If u are sick , go see a doctor for check up and get secured as a christain because u believe in Jesus , he will help u recover quickly.

    I have heard of some christains who do dry fasting without drinking water and they do that for days or months without taking anything, and then later u get to hear the news that the person has died. I mean do u know what it means for the body, one could take atlist a sip of water…..anyway the story is endless………..christains really need to use their God given heads (to be wise) and churchs/pastors need to explain to the people so they can understand what they really mean. and if u don´t understand the bible or the preaching of the pastor ask questions so u don´t get confused…Some churchs has definitely failed us, most exspecially those who use it as a business center and deceive people of God.

    • unique

      January 6, 2011 at 11:27 am

      typo I mean if u are sick , seek medical attention and get (cured) and not secured

    • dreal

      January 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      Too many typos if you ask me!

  6. bootylicious babe

    January 6, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Good write up wana,as always. MY OWN church’s vision is raising role models in the society and I knw dat they hv bn doing so n I’m gna be one of those role models soon. I knw the church (myn) is doing all it possibly can to impact the society andI Pray God continues to strengthen us. I also pray for the eyes of ppl to be open to see the true bible-believing,holy spirit filled and “visible” churches. Not them fake wicked ones!! Amen!

    • jcsgrl

      January 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      wow with a username “bootylicious babe” you’re definitely a role model. Was going to ask you what church you attend till I saw the name and paused…not judging you oh just wondering

    • spicy

      January 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      looooooooooool

    • Mee

      January 9, 2011 at 7:00 am

      shutup!

  7. dami

    January 6, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Very nice. The church does need to take responsibilty for the community.

  8. juls

    January 6, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Nice piece. The church is not the building it is the people. The work of the pastor is to teach and educate people but the people need to have their own personal interaction with God.
    Going to church, night vigil or sleeping in church does not guarantee your deliverance. What do you do with the word you receive? do u apply it?
    The problem with people is that they always want a miracle but guess what, the miracle will only come with the remewal of our minds. So each person is the church,so love God and seek him. Stop worshipping your pastors!!!

  9. Femi

    January 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    The “Church” isn’t a building an organization or a location, WE are the church, that is how Christ intended it, so if the church is failing, it is because WE are failing.

    • Ib

      January 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      Spot on!spot on Femi!
      like the author said we should ask “Have we failed ourselves?” rather than going around looking for who to point fingers at.Be more introspective people.We are the church,what are we doing to portray that.
      This might seem random but I just realised that Nigerians dont do a lot of good voluntary services…hmmm

    • Lara

      January 7, 2011 at 3:24 am

      Femi took the words right out of my mouth, We ‘i.e. christians’ ARE the Church. To borrow a phrase from a friend ‘let the real christians stand up’ It is time to stand, if we have fallen asleep on the job – it’s time to wake up, if we’ve gotten lost – it’s time to find our way back O!

      The “faith based organisation” with an outreach programme I believe the writer is referring to is a CHURCH which I happened to visit on a trip to Lagos and was privileged to go with them inside Ajegunle’s Marakana. I was just an accidental spectator, didn’t even know I would end up accompanying my friend there neither did he until he was asked by the snr pastor for his help in picking up some friends. I saw the work first hand amongst addicts, listened to testimonies at the meeting from several brothers and sisters whose lives had been transformed, but most impacting on me was speaking with some of the brothers from the outreach team I went with – finding out that they were actually from Marakana & Empire & hearing them share their testimonies (one guy’s father used to be a drug dealer).

      But these men were not transformed by humanism, they were transformed by the power of God. I am glad this article has got us thinking though I worry that we may start to seek humanism i.e. good works again missing the mark. Because good works without Christ is just that – good works but good works through Christ equals power meaning that ‘His Kingdom has come’ that ‘His will is being done’

      Lets get back to the Cross…He IS coming back.

      In response to some of the comments:
      Jesus is the only answer to this ever changing world, in Him God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. Sometimes we get so caught up in programs – partnering with this or that venture and forget prayer, cultivating intimacy with God, renewing our minds by the study of His word, we get so organised that our programs become void of the very life of God.

      Each of us will give an account before God, so I urge you even when you feel the pastors have failed you, ask God to teach you how to feed yourselves with His word & presence, don’t keep waiting on them, lift those you can up in prayer.
      Let every man work out their own salvation with fear and trembling – thats what the Bible says.

      http://insideout-living.blogspot.com/

    • lizzy

      January 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      thank you Lara…

  10. mbabazi

    January 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    so sad what is happening in the church and its world over. we should go back to the basics which is the word of God. http://mbabaziannet.blogspot.com/

  11. Aibee

    January 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Good piece Wana (as usual). I understand your sentiments. Often when I listen to Sharing Life Issues, I wonder what exactly the “seers” are seeing. Like you said, the real question is “have we failed ourselves?”.
    At the end of it all, God expects us to be like the Berean Christians who always cross-checked whatever they were taught to confirm if it was in tandem with the scriptures. Let’s not be like the “young prophet” who lost his life because he disobeyed an order he heard directly from God and obeyed an “old prophet” instead.
    Like someone said, we should all use our head.

  12. Naijamum

    January 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    When a political system fails to cater for the most vulnerable people in society, some other other organisation/ support network – i.e. the church or extended family system – will take its place.
    One can assume that some churches will always exploit such vulnerable people. This is because without a Social Security system in place; the poor and indigent in our midst are most likely to cling to their church and deify their pastor!

  13. pam

    January 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    great piece wana! a lot of people ask me how they can start working with social intiatives to improve the society and I usuallY tell them to start with thier church! Its a community of people we often overlook with a great structure and plenty of human resources to draw from. thats why faith based NGOs tend to be very strong…

  14. pam

    January 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    and I too love the question have we failed ourselves… we are the church community…

  15. peleoo

    January 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    your destiny is in your hands

  16. anonymous

    January 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I have to disagree with this writeup. The church is made up of people who are enabled to impact their environment through the teachings and the word of God. It’s like applying for a funding. Now it is true that the church has tons of money, since a bible believing person should know they ought to pay for their tithes and offering. And therefore the church can be classed as an organisation for you as a member to come up with ideas, and see how they will help you impact your community funding-wise. Secondly, the church is a place of gathering, where people come to meet their fellow believers and learn the word of God. It is true that some of the leaders of these churches might be fraudulant, but that should not be our business, for indeed our business should be how we can make heaven, and our OWN relationship with God. When Jesus was teaching in the bible, He talked about individuals helping each other, not a group or sect. Think about it. It’s like going to school to get an education. If you do not apply the knowldge you have learned into your life, and therby fail all your tests and examination, and end up not attaining that next level, or worse still unable to attain some necessary skills to help you in life, will you now say that the school system has failed you? How is that? Is it not because you have not applied the teachings into your life. No matter how much you love your favourite teacher, trust me, there is no way you will soley rely on him for passing exams, for indeed he/she can only help you to one point.

    So therefore, the quetion should be: What have you done with what you learned?

  17. foolish talk

    January 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    The other side to this story is when there is a congregation with highly prosperous plp..some still manage to have a problem with it.. To name a few, Adefarasin, Eddie Long, Crefflo… I mean do i as a christian not wear my lush Louboutins just because the chick next to me cant afford jamb? *sigh* i can help her but what happens after her jamb na? i then have to give her baffs? lol just jokes… the truth is we have gone to the dogs and humanitarian efforts are at an all time low. In the words of mc hammer “we’ve got to pray just to make it today” was MC HAMMER A PROPHET??? *SUPRISED BBM SMILEY*

  18. 'Sina

    January 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    The Church is the body of Christ, that can never fail. The structures emerging everywhere across the nation, masquerading as churches, are mostly business enterprises exploiting the incredibly powerful combination of desperate human helplessness and the seemingly inexplicable mystery of life. Most people are looking for God everywhere but in the right place. People have failed themselves, not the Church. Most church founders in Nigeria are entrepreneurs exploiting market opportunities. Who can blame them. They are no worse than any other con-men or fraudsters.

    We are each a part of Christ. What you are travelling all the way to Sokoto for is in fact in the pocket of your sokoto. Christ is our mediator with God, not the local pastor whose main interest is in our tithes and offerings. The Holy Spirit of God is within you, to guide you wisely and instruct you concerning the mysteries of life. If we study the Word of God as we should and follow the injunctions of Christ, our lives will experience the peace we lack which yet we pay so much for, and not the stress of keeping up with pretences while our lives remain shrouded in confusion and lies.

    All we need to do is learn to draw LIFE from the WORD, and the abundance promised by Christ will becomes ours in the form the Bible describes as “fruits of the spirit”. These will nourish us into the kind of spiritual health that will make the churches financially bankrupt to march their current moral bankruptcy. It’s up to the “victims” to wake up and look within for Christ.

  19. say it as it is

    January 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Godbless you Wana!Just the wake up call i need to start this year.May God help us remember the reasons why He helped us-to help others.

  20. Ujubaby

    January 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Nice article. It all comes back 2 d individual. Peeps lack discernment and r easily deceived by these so-called “pastors”. Peeps, don’t just enter any building with a church banner, let d Spirit of God guide your footsteps to d ordained congregation he meant 4 u b4 time itself began!

  21. ForeverYoung

    January 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I wonder when we as a society are going to start holding our leaders and some of our religious organization partly responsible for the decay of the nation. Ppl using the school-education analogy, let me ask u a question, if u go to school and d teacher teaches u nonsense, pray tell even if u apply it correctly what kind of product wud u turn out to be?..oh hoo, I see, u r very correct “NONSENSE”.
    At some point in our lives we look up to someone for direction/mentorship. Until we reach the stage of maturity we are emotionally, spiritually and physically dependent on others. It cud b parents, pastors, teachers or d local govt chairman.
    My point? Pastors, Parents, Leaders, etc are in a position of responsibilty, they need to be held accountable. Lets point fingers when there is a need, its called accountabilty. I will stick to the writers initial thoughts with a slight remix”some of the churches have failed us”. The sooner we start identifying the rotten ones and holding’em accountable the sooner we will get to our mecca. If u shit for dia..u must pack ur shit comot, in one word – ACCOUNTABILTY

  22. chi

    January 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Very well written. We are told that we should be our brothers’ keepers and that we should love our neighbours as God loves us yet, the churches are more concerned with material things and frankly in my opinion, most have lost the vision. Building multi million Niara complexes while their members cannot feed their families. Who are we building for? No matter how bueatiful the church building is, it is the substam[nce of worship that matters to God! You see our Pastors driving multi million Niara cars and people actually justify it! It is indeed shameful.

  23. lizzy

    January 6, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I hope all of you blaming pastors for riding big cars know that some of these pastors make honest livings by themselves while some other stuff are just gifts from people. Don’t be so quick to join the judging fray people. Look at yourself and ask yourself how you have fared so far in the help department of life.

  24. GOONERBABE

    January 6, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Our society is breaking down because it is becoming ever less cohesive, and more people have a what’s-in-­it-for-me attitude. It is manifest at many levels, including government and churches! Instead of seeking to help develop compassion­ate-and-ca­ring human beings, churches expends most of their energy arguing over which “rules of behavior” are the “right” one and trying to enforce those rules. Instead of helping people to understand that spirituali­ty is about walking a path that makes one’s self a “better” person….­churches are busy preaching prosperity!! The answer to our problems lies in the question “Have we failed us?” Be the change you want to see in Nigeria.

  25. ify

    January 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    i certainly agree with the writer of this article that the church should play a more proactive role in the lives of it’s followers. Like some people will tell you, you cannot tell people that Jesus is good while they are unable to eat even one meal a day.
    Having stayed in america for the past few months, I am witness of the impact the church has had in the lives of African -Americans. Churches here partner with disease control organisations to combat HIV and other prevalent diseases. One church here runs a programme which seeks to help congregants manage their finances. The church has to rise up to the face contemporary issues in this our ever-evolving world.

  26. John

    January 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    That is what happens when we make God out to be an Almighty Santa Claus.

    Great post. Thanks. Stay blessed…john

  27. NNENNE

    January 6, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I very much believe that there is a being greater than all of us.I also think that everyone has a right to believe in whatever they choose. By the end of the day, what matters is “do you love your neighbor as yourselve? Do you love your God?” If you love your fellow man, you will not lie against him, kill him/her, scam him/her,build a cathedral while people are starving, build and throw bombs on them or terrorize them in the name of whatsoever in you believe in. I go to church with my eyes wide open and with my senses intact. I am not perfect but I try to do to others what I want them to do to me.In a way, I think, religion, not just church, has failed us and we have failed ourselves.The world over, religion has brought anarchy, instead of unity.Sometimes I cannot help but wonder what God must be thinking…

  28. partyrider

    January 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    the “CHURCH”has not failed us, rather we have failed CHRIST (cos wat happens in most “churches” 2day is the direct opposite if wat HE instituted on earth) and failed ourselves (since we cant open our eyes to see)

  29. foolish talk

    January 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    WE ARE THE CHURCH! .. THAS RITE!

  30. FrankBezzle

    January 6, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I was once invited to a church where the only thing the pastor dwelled on was negativity. He gave the congregation 8 prayer points and all of them where prayers for the destruction of their enemies: “Okay, by fire, by thunder, open your mouth! Pray that your enemies will die! No, in fact pray that they will almost die, but not give up the ghost, so that they can recover and witness your success. After then, let them perish.”

    And I am like, make up your mind; which one is it then?

    The pastor went on “Who is the Achan or Judas in your life; responsible for your present travails and anguish? It could be your next door neighbor or even the person sitting next to you now!”

    A set of twins sitting next to each other, looked at themselves with scorn and suspicion. So, it has been your doing all along eh, Kehinde?

    At the end of the service, I realized, that the Word had not been preached at all.

    The pastor seemed obsessed with characters from the bible like Delilah, Achan, Judas, Nimrod and Cain rather than the gospel and God’s promises towards everyone.

    And the pastor’s negative outlook trickled down to members of the congregation; I got the feeling that they went away feeling angry at the world, deprived and paranoid. Every other person on earth was out to kill, steal and destroy them……http://woahnigeria.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/perish-my-negative-thought/

    • Theresa

      January 8, 2011 at 8:07 am

      Very funny about the twins, i laughed really hard! But you are right about the way so-called pastors breed fear, mistrust and enmity among families and friends. Ignorance and poverty are a very lethal combination and unfortunately that is the reason many church-goers swallow everything their pastors say hook,linker and sinker. To explain my point, ignorance because some people do not use their head, or ask themselves questions but just swallow whatever pastor says, as if it is from God Himself. Poverty can be of the mind and/or finance. For instance because since some people cannot afford hospital bills they wait for a miracle from a pastor, or cannot afford autopsy, they then conclude their loved one was killed by a witch (usually a family member) instead of a disease. May we (not only God) help ourselves.

  31. Timma

    January 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Nice write up and interesting topic. Having had the priviledge of being one of the serving officers in the charity organization of my church, I have also been priviledged to see how we Christians too have turned the church to a sort of meal ticket, people refusing to do any work under the guise of not finding work( or rather one with a fat paycheck!) but preffering to collect their daily bread from the church, it was so bad that u see some coming to say they lost their spouses or family members or are critically ill,some have even pretended to be HIV positive just to get quick attention! only for us to do our investigations, visiting them without warning to find out all their stories are lies, or people just take off from one town and come down to the city without prior arrangement with their expected hosts or proper research on if they can be accomodated and yet expect to have a comfortable accomodation waiting for them in the church!as if its now a hotel of some sorts. Some would even bodly challenge u that Christ said u should take care of the poor!!! Don’t get me wrong, am not trying to absolve the church from reaching out to people in need, or having avenues for empowering its members hereby making them better citizens but then we should also look inward and see we all have a collective responsibility also not to take the church or its teachings as an excuse to seat and wait for provisions to come from “heaven”, the Church can’t do everything!We have equally failed ourselves and we need to really make a u-turn and change for the better,Nice one Wana, really!

  32. mary007

    January 7, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Thanks for this article, the truth be told many of these “pastor worshippers” do so due to economical factors. I recall when I initially left the country I found it hard to pray the basic amenities that make life a comfort were at my finger tips, as I was willing to work I earned so God took a back seat and later on I have being able to build my faith more objectively. Wish the worshippers the best as I pray for a better Nigeria

  33. shade

    January 7, 2011 at 5:11 am

    1) You might want to reflect on what the vision of your church was in the first place and perhaps re-assess the execution of that vision and then ponder as to whether or not that vision reaches out to the congregants.

    2)Churches need to be visible, not just in erecting large dome-like buildings but also in spiritual, physical and material growth of it’s congregants and the community at large.

    3) We don’t need more canopies, cordless microphones, megaphones and another architectural edifice in an already over-crowded metropolis. We need responsible people using the skills and gifts that God has put inside of them.
    4)So maybe the new question we should ask is: Have ‘we’ failed ‘us’?

    Enough said..

    Great stuff Wana.

  34. Tina Ike

    January 7, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Good writeup Wana! very thought provoking, it makes one question alot in this institution. Did we fail ourselves, did we just follow fads, leaders and not read the bible and digest the contents ourselves. So many questions, very little answer. I am thankful though for great leaders who take out time to engage their churches to think not by brainwashing. Keep it up in your writing, i enjoyed it especially on topics like religion where most are not bold or remain “politically correct”.

  35. Ekene Onu

    January 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Well said Wana! and I echo the sentiment that we are the church indeed.

  36. Somebody

    January 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I think the “failure” u are referring to is as a result of we human beings looking for the quickest way out… so naturally people would flock to a place where the pastor seems to have the highest levels of annointing ( this unfortunately, we Nigerians, measure by the wealth and connections and who else goes to the church).
    What baffles me the most is how people take their Pastor’s words as the ultimate LAW… And in the quest of gaining propserity as quickly as possible, too many people just do things that at the end of the day I beleive offend God.. I cant do this because my pastor said, pastor said I shouldnt do this,… how does the Pastor know every single thing???? Throw ur mother out.. she is a witch….Why would u throw ur old mother out of the house? just coz one pastor said she was a witch.. If ur mother were really and truly a witch, u’d be dead longest time… plus if the concepts of witches as we represent them are true, ur mother would not only use her “powers” to ensure u excel so u can buy her big jeeps.. which mother wants to ride okada or be jumping on molue at age 70+??
    I’m not saying all pastors are liars ooo.. there surely would be a number that truly love God and are in the ministry fbecause of the love… but too many are there just coz its a lucrative business…
    Open your eyes and see that God is accessible to u.. Even from ur room… on the bus or walking down the street. Call him directly and know that u dont really need anyone else to speak to God for u.. Maybe if we all realized that, the pastors that are exploiting the desperate people would dwindle and eventually die off….

  37. Cometonigeria.com

    January 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    This is a well-written article and I must give kudos to the writer… The problem with us (Nigerians) is that we believe too much in our pastors and their prayers, and yet we turn back and do the opposite things that Bible forbid every time. God loves no matter your race, colour or religion…The way our churches are being run in Nigeria is too business-like. What matters now is the question of how many people attend Pastor A church and not how many people actually ‘re able to receive salvation as “advertised” in national dailies, TVs and radios.

    Our religion leaders are as corrupt as our politicians…Typical white churches here in the UK are run like charitable organisations; that’s why you see them sending used clothes, toys and other stuff to poor people in developing world. Their pastors aint as materialistic as our own pastors in Nigeria. A white pastor that lives 2 streets away from mine here in London has been riding his bicycle for the past 7 years that I have known him…whereas my own cousin drives a Jeep back home in Nigerian and he has only been on his pastoral job for 2 years. Where did he get the money from??

    Another thing I noticed in Nigerian pastors is the fact that many of them don’t do nothing else other than their pastoral jobs. They abandon their professions and make Church their one and only business. We need to change all these shortcomings because we have all failed

  38. anon

    January 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    The church is filled with people from different walks of life. People that we see day to day, at work, school, grocery store, majority of them go to one church or the other. So, if the church is failing, it also means we the people are failing.

    At this point, let’s stop for a second and take a look at our own life. Yes, I know there are many pastors not doing the right thing, hypocrites everywhere but what are we doing as individual. The church is just a building filled with people, and initially it is suppose to be the “body of Christ” where we come together to encourage, support and to remind each other what our main purpose in life is, which is to live a life pleasing to Christ. Unfortunately, that’s not what is going on. The Bible is availabe to everyone, and if you claim to be a christian and don’t know what salvation is really about, and don’t even live a lifestyle that reflects Christ, then you are missing it. I encourage people to stop looking at the pastor or church for their salvation, look at the Bible, because at the long run, each individual will have to give account.

  39. eMJOY Mayowa

    January 8, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I appreciate this article a big deal. It is not biased at all, I observe. Indeed churches or church communities need have a vision they are sent to accomplish lest they accomplish nothing at all rather than further stagnation in society.
    JOY Wana

  40. akuap

    January 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    You couldn’t have said this better. I want to forward this to all the members of our church board, but that would backfire, so i’m going to try and live this first. Afterall, the church is made up of individuals like moi, not so?

  41. Kola

    January 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I agree with this write-up. It’s been something on the minds of Nigerians for a long time and I am glad a journalist has decided to talk about this burning issue. There must be regulations on the opening of churches in Nigeria, no one can argue that church business is big business; they compete with oil companies and banks with the largest revenue. We the people need to wake-up and sieve the good churches from the bad ones, but I am afraid that in Lagos this is highly unlikely as immigrants continue to flow in and are mostly the most gullible due to their economic conditions, also the high level of illiteracy is a factor leading to poor choices of where to go and worship. I have always asked myself one question, why are humans quick to accept what isn’t ours? Christianity is western and Islam is Arab, but we Africans have embraced it with open arms without questioning, some of my African brothers would kill people once their religion is challenged, it just shows how easy the human mind can be manipulated, just about 400 years ago, hardly any Africans knew of this religion.
    We need to use our head to decide, the only way is through education. The extent of how the church has taken the root of immoral decadence can be seen in this example- One church tells its congruency to donate the whole month salary for January to the Church. Any church that tells me this, I would do my talking by feet (walking away) but my Nigerian brothers are so gullible, that they give all their money to the church waiting for one miracle or the other. There is another example of a church close to my house, that all it talks about in notices is how the congregates must donate generator, money and even example of how the pastor isn’t able to drive a car! Meaning they should gear up to increase donations etc. Even some pastors have began to commercialize their brand, one of such is a pastor that offers his prayers through ringtones and people who wish to have that ringtone must pay monthly for it. Trust my people to buy now, even if they are hungry and can use that money for something tangible in their lives, some say it’s only #50 a month, so I don’t care. When you do a calculation of how many people own that ringtone then maybe you should (this example is just how commercialized pastors have gotten).
    Finally I agree with the journalist that we the community are the church, the church is only a reflection of our society which in simple word is diseased and on the death-bed, our society needs a re-birth in all stratosphere of our existence, in the words of Jesus unless a man is born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. It is the same for our society, we need to all look at the man in the mirror and change for the better, anew and afresh. We need to change our views on money, our society only thinks of money, money, money and this is destructive, let’s have dreams on what we want to achieve in life and our goals in non-monetary ways and see how everything around us changes.

  42. Aisha

    January 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    The answer to this question brings up many other questions like:
    why is it so easy to build a church in Nigeria?
    why is it so easy to claim that you have been specially anointed by God and start to build your own church?
    sadly, it feels like there are no criteria for churches in Nigeria and so the vulnerable who are willing to bend to any side as long as their needs are met are being exploited by the fast growing number of churches. i am not trying to say that every church exploits the vulnerability of its members what i am trying to say is that it is difficult to weed between business organizations that are called churches and churches that actually draw out life from the word for its congregation to strengthen their faith rather than reading out words from the bible.
    i ask myself this question?
    why is it that big churches with air conditioners and a man that can speak english better than the english man himself fill so quickly than a church that preaches the truth without the big buildings and all- what exactly are we looking for when we step into a place that is called a church, is it the class of the place or the life that is drawn out of the word?
    isnt it better to go to a church that isnt sooo big but is ready to help you because the tithes and offerings have been kept so that they can be given back to the community when need be and not supposedly given to God by making a building more luxurious or isnt the fact that we were made in the image of God enough for us to see that helping the church or congregation pleases God better?
    lastly i feel that we have failed us because most of us give the wrong impression of what we are looking for in a church and so people that are ready to take advantage get on with it basically are we boosting the ego of churches with the goals of a business organisation?

  43. reallyangry

    January 8, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I hope you all know that you are wrong. Churches have not failed us rather our useless politicians have by not giving free education. If everyone was at least WAEC educated and government was responsible then these bad churches wouldn’t be there in the first place. Some of them may be just owned by crafty business-savvy folks who are oratory and can deceive people using the Bible as their tool in a negative way.

    WANA, think GOVERNMENT not CHURCH, let there be more investment in education and free education for all including adults, provide amenities,reduce poverty and lets see whether these businessmen will not find another business. Only a few are honest, the rest go shift.

  44. Just Sayin'

    January 9, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Lighthouses are more useful than churches -Benjamin Franklin

  45. F N Z

    January 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I think everyone should read this important information …

  46. Noni

    January 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Great article Wana. In an ultra religious (not really Godly) society such as ours, it’s difficult to get in a sensible rhetoric in ‘church’ discussions

  47. Chee

    January 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    You know what, babe… I could not agree with you (and very many of the commentators here)more… You know, I talk a lot about this privately with friends and colleagues and a lot of people start begging me and quoting the “touch not my anointed” phrase from the Bible. And my question ALWAYS is… WHOM ANOINTED WHO?

    As a Christian (first) and a Catholic (by choice) I have always said show me a Church where it’s leaders HONESTLY emulate our very first guardians (the Disciples) and I’d show you a true Church of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. These days, it seems the “Pastors” (and please believe that I include MOST OF the famous foreign miracle workers in this assessment) are more interested in amassing wealth for themselves, their families and their generations unborn than giving support (all kinds and including financial) to their congregation.

    I recall that in the Bible, the Disciples used contributions received from the Church family to BUILD the Church… Inevitably, this means (to me at least) not buying the most expensive silks and “chariots” but investing back in the lives of its congregation – helping the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing the naked, etc. Yet, today, what persists is a system where these same needy people are MADE (in the name of tithing) to feed, heal and clothe the already FAT leaders… Meanwhile, they (the needy) remain hungry, sick, ignorant and defenceless… And sing praises to their leaders! TUFIAKWA!

    There’s so much more I want and need to say, but… And whilst I agree with a lot of people here that people have heads and should use them, the only thing I will say is slavery is NOT a thing of the past… Daily, I interact with people who are all kinds of slaves – spiritual, financial, emotional, mental… And trust me when I say the “Kunta Kintes” amongst us are extremely few and far between… if we search ourselves, we may find that we are also some kind of slave and honestly, one is not much worse off than the other… Liberation has a price tag and very many of us can’t truly afford it.

    Wana Darling, very well done for this article – The highest Grade A! *hugs*

  48. olutayo christopher

    January 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    rather than being a tool of liberation, religion has generally become a tool of exploitation! Nigeria is one of the most religious countries in the world. yet, it has not for once reflected in our ways of life. it is pathetic! but i can assure you that soon, God will do something new concerning religion! JUST WATCH OUT!

  49. butterfly

    January 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

    @sade, very wel said. i believe we owe it t o ourselves as christians to look out for eachother too. besides personal spiritual growth, we shud look beyond ourselves and see what is happening to the body of christ. yes, there are some churches that have determined in their hearts to make a change in the lives of people, but honestly? how many are they? are they even popular? i just hope the churches open their eyes on time.

  50. Ifedayo

    January 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Well said Wana! I like your last question…Have we failed ourselves? And I’d say yes. Some have blamed the church, government etc, but honestly all these institutions consist of individuals like you and I. These individuals are at the heart of the problems plaguing our society. Like it’s been said here, some churches actually try to make an impact but what do you say to individuals who have been assisted to a certain level and yet still keep going back for more, depriving those who have never received a helping hand? Integrity is seriously lacking though existent

  51. Guest

    May 2, 2012 at 5:52 am

    I belonged to a predominately white church of mostly seniors but never in my wildest imaginations felt that they were dealing with the strong hold of racism. I loved everyone there and thought they loved me…then I was asked to substitute teach for a popular bible class on Sunday morning. Out of a large class of about 50 people only ten attended the class whenever I was asked to be a stand in. These white seniors would look in the door see my black face and keep going, even making it obvious of their disappointment and disdain. They never even gave me a chance even though I have read my entire bible from Genesis to Revelation word for word, followed the regular teacher outline and spend much time in preparation and prayer to teach that class.
    I had friends come from the all black church I had previously attended to support me. Finally the word got around that I was a great teacher but they did not automatically receive me and I was hurt and disappointed but I chose to take the higher road of forgiveness. It was an eye opener.
    I also saw a homeless man come into the church and got dirty looks and people got up and moved from the pew! Shameful & depressing!

  52. Guest

    May 2, 2012 at 5:55 am

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi quote …after being denied attendance in a South African Christian church under Apartheid because he was a person of color (of brown color from India)

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