The proliferation of churches and the craze for Mirachism in Nigeria
Religion has become a top bracket business in Nigeria. This is occasioned by the agglomeration of autonomous, non-centralized, independent and illegally established religious movements in Nigeria. This situation favours commercialization of religion. Although the founders and leaders postulate and account for the proliferation of churches and the craze for Mirachism in Nigeria as a bate reasons for the emergence and expeditious growth and the pivotal reason of their emergence is basically economic. When religious adherents go to see ‘men and women of God’ who are assumed to develop power, predict the future, explain the present and uncover the past, they pay for the supposedly religious services rendered. Strikingly and paradoxically, the poor pay to be freed from poverty. Religion is now one of the easy means of achieving riches rather than a means of making people better citizens for a healthier society.
Religious leaders who commercialize religion should heed Jesus’ mandate: freely you have received freely you must give.
Religious economy refers to religious persons and organizations interacting within a market framework of competing groups and ideologies. An economy makes it possible for religious suppliers to meet the demands of different religious consumers.
The economic situation of this country is one of the reason of proliferation of churches because how things are in the country, the hardship of getting money in this country today makes some people go on establishing churches in order to live and to carter for their family (Amucheazi 1986; Essien 2010 ).
As you might have noticed, the number of churches in Nigeria these days is increasing exponentially. It almost seems like every neighbourhood has a few churches to choose from. But what issues can such proliferation of churches in Nigeria cause? Let’s talk about it.
What is proliferation of churches? Before we start talking about the problems of church proliferation, it makes sense to define this term first. It describes a process of new churches opening at a very fast rate. What is important to mention, though, is that it is not the same as church development.
An already existing church opening a new worship centre or starting a new service falls under the description of church development. However, if several worship centres or local churches decided to become fully independent from their parent body/bodies, then this would count as church proliferation.
For some reason, many Christian clergymen hold the belief that the best way to bring the word of God to the people is to open more churches. That is why every time a man of God receives a revelation, another Nigeria church pops up. As a result, there are so many registered churches in Nigeria and they can be found on every corner.
On one hand, a large number of churches should not be that big of a problem. After all, more people have access to a wide array of places of worship. What can be so bad about that?
Well, you might be surprised just how many issues the proliferation of churches can cause. Let’s consider all of them in detail in the following section.
Even though the opening of new churches grants an opportunity to reach more people with the word of God, proliferation of churches can lead to lots of issues. The first one that comes to mind is the clash of personalities. When there are so many churches on a small patch of land, it will eventually lead to disputes and conflicts between their leaders and/or members. These conflicts can be based on different interpretations of religion, different views on some topic, or even just on petty personal fights between church ministers. Thus, the friendly and loving message of religion gets lost in these clashes.
Speaking of different interpretations of religion, it seems to be the main problem with too many churches out there. Even the most popular denominations have plenty of things to argue about when it comes to interpreting the Lord’s words. So when new churches appear and start preaching their own versions, the conflict levels might become catastrophic.
In addition to all this, many new churches are guilty of heresy. You might not believe it, but some churches go to all sorts of lengths just to be different from others and, consequently, attract more worshippers. What they are preaching is more resemblant of mad ramblings of a lunatic rather than the Bible.
Even though religion is supposed to unite all kinds of people, the proliferation of churches only divides them. Therefore, it creates the lack of unity. Each church thinks that they are above all others, so when it comes to reaching a consensus in some matter, nobody wants to give up their position/opinion in favour of others.
Another thing that is close to our previous points is unhealthy competition. Almost every church’s goal these days is to get as many followers as possible. When there is a lot of competition out there, no rules seem to apply. The main issue with this competition seems to be the converts that are looking to change their church of choice. Church ministers go out of their way to get those converts to attend their church.
What we have talked about before mostly concerns the churches themselves and religion as a whole.
However, proliferation of churches also has a negative effect on people and the environment. For instance, numerous churches that have opened recently are guilty of money laundering, fraud, swindling and embezzlement. The more churches open, the harder it is for authorities to control all of them. Therefore, some people use new churches as fronts for their nefarious operations.
Money matters aside, too many churches on one small patch of land lead to noise pollution. Even during daytime, several sermons that happen at the same time can cause quite a calamity. At the same time, some churches also choose to have night sermons. If the church is located among residential buildings, such events might disturb the peace of the whole neighbourhood. In conclusion, proliferation of churches in Nigeria is definitely not a very good thing. It leads to discords, squabbles, excessive noise and many other unpleasant things.
Causes of Church Proliferation
The following are some factors responsible for church proliferation in Nigeria:
- Unemployment: The major causes of springing up of churches in the country is unemployments, most graduates being produced in our educational institutions do not have job opportunities and our institutions are still bringing out graduates every year which increase the number of jobless graduates in the country, some of them looking for means of livelihood undergo six month courses in one of the Bible Colleges in the nation and thereafter establish church without receiving any call and there by become General Overseers and gradually get on with life, open branches, spreading nationwide and adding to the numbers of churches in the nation.
- Love of money: Many people because of love of money are using churches or religion to dupe innocent believers of their resources such as buildings, cars, properties and money by deceiving them with fake/false prophecies. Many see churches as a good venture where “cool” money can be raked in without stress and by this move out of their churches to go and establish their own with different name in other to be in control of such money.
- Position and power: Nobody want to serve, everybody want to be the founder, general overseer and a master having many people to serve him. For this reason, they engineer little quarrel in their present church, take few people (members) along to establish their own church.
- Worldly materials: Many people even the so called “Men of God “ want to ride a bullet proof jeep, to build castle all over the world, to have personal private jet, to own a treasury and to be in possessions of all the money in the Church and that is why according to Shionwu (2012) in an interview granted said some churches were calling their congregations “customers” and bury all sort of things including life cows in other to attract people which led to having fifteen churches on the same street bearing different names.
- Economic recession in the country which resulted into increase in poverty levels of the citizenry have led some people to convert their living room into churches since they can quotes some verses of the Bible and there after intensify the growth of their churches.
- Unhealthy rivalry among churches, pastors, ministers of God and even within the church: Boasting on the number of branches, pastors and congregations in their churches is a major problem in honoring the General Overseers in the society. Others factors as said by Falayi (1998) include rapid evangelization, beliefs and practices, genuine thirst for spiritual nourishment, theological issues, fanaticism and leader tussles. The major church proliferation was observed at the end of 1973 revivals and crusades that served as a venue by which Pentecostalism got introduced into the country. Adamolekun (2012) the resultant effect was the springing up of new churches out of the parent churches on basis of lack of divine healing, baptism of the Holy Spirit and other Pentecostal manifestation in parent churches. Some of the churches established were for genuine reason of evangelism such as deeper life church; redeem Christian church, gospel faith mission while some were established for commercial purpose which led to the birth of proliferation of churches.
The wild fire springing up of churches in this country and the craze for mirachism in Nigeria is not as a result of yielding to the commission given by God to human kind to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations but lack of job, love of money, power and position, people taking corners to become general overseers of churches in other to acquire worldly materials at the expense of their congregation.
By obeying their stomach call instead of calling from God, the so call stomach calling pastors are many in the nation there by causing the uncontrollable springing up of churches. This is the major reason why church proliferation does not have positive impact in this nation, as the number of churches, general overseers and pastors increases so also the crime rate. This has overshadowed the positive impact such as Missionary Schools, Universities, Hospital and etc. that come along with church proliferation. The health problem such as hearing And hypertensive aliments affecting people living in an environment where churches are located through the air and noise pollution caused by the use of public addresses system and carbon monoxides emitted from the generators and their congregation cars contributed a lot to the health hazard of the nation population.
The different Christian associations such as CAN, PF and others are not of help to the problem rather contributing to the negative impact of church proliferation, instead of them to be in control and regulate the growth of churches in the nation, their executives have derailed or failed in this spiritual work God has called them to rather pursuing after worldly materials. In general, church proliferation would have been a great benefit unto this nation if this so called General Overseers and Pastors are really called by God and waited for God instructions/directions on the establishment of churches because, not all Pastors called by God are directed to establish a church but due to the calling of stomach and hand work of men, churches are springing up uncontrollably without Spiritual impact which bring about the negative impact being experienced in the nation presently. Church proliferation has positive impact but the negative part of it is more and has covered up the good side of it which makes people to see church proliferation as menace to the nation.
Based on the outcome of the survey conducted and points raised in the concluding part of this study, the study will like to humbly recommend the following:
- To all people attending churches, they should seek for God and know the living God. They should have the true knowledge of God and his ways and always put him above all their problems, by doing these they will not fall into the hand of stomach calling and fake miracle pastors. This will reduce the patronage of these fake miracle churches and force them to wind up in the nation. Likewise, the bible says we should test all spirits, if we know God and have the spirit of God in us, we will not enter or worship in any of these money oriented churches that are spread all over the nation.
- To all stomach called fake miracle performing Pastors and General Overseers, God said “I know my sheep and my sheep know me “definitely you know you are not of God, the bible says “no liars, adulteress, thieves, wicked and evil doers will enter the kingdom of God. This means you are all aware of what will become of you at the end of the world if you do not desist from deceiving people. For you to enter the kingdom of God, stop your evil ways immediately and this will reduce greatly the negative impact Church Proliferation has on this nation.
- To the real men of God, they need to stop preaching prosperity only in their churches but to preach on righteousness and holiness and the true word of God to their congregation which will prevent their congregation from being deceived from fake miracles performing pastors that full the nation. By hearing the true words of God the congregation will be able to withstand any attempt or invitations in any form of the so called stomach called Pastors either to form a church or attending their church. Likewise, the real men of God should not mix up with the world and stop going after material things which can lead to misleading of their congregation and make them to fall into wrong hands which can lead to the spreading of fake churches.
- The Christian association should wake up to their responsibilities of controlling, regulating and punishing ill churches that contravene the set goals to the association, they should forget about worldly pollution and face the work of God committed on their hands.
- Government should enforce the law banning the use of outside public addresses system by churches located within residential areas. Government should monitor and close down churches that are not registered their names with the Corporate Affairs Commission in order to reduce those fake mushroom churches having negative impact in church Proliferation.