EVANGELISM: Proliferation or Profiteering of Churches? By Gracious Akintayo
The Bible encouraged proliferation of churches, but does not support profiteering. “Go ye into the world and preach the gospel in every nook and cranny of the nation.” With innumerable number of churches in Nigeria, they are high and too many than the numbers of schools and employable organization. It is noted that Nigerian churches buy off available business places or distraught company facilities and convert them to places of worship. While the numbers of unemployed swelled up, the former employment facilities turned into worship centers increased with people praying, lamenting and crying for jobs and employment.
Before now, there had been debate and argument, if it is right or biblical for a church to open several branches, much more in a single area. Not minding their closeness, noise pollution, confusion and rivalry that set-in and associate with such a system.
Many christian and churches are no longer carrying out the true activities of evangelism. They prefer members swapping or luring other church members rather than winning souls for the kingdom, evangelising the yet to be reached, compelling the lost returns and those that have not really known Christ. They chose otherwise to lure the already won souls and the church to be their church members.
Modern day evangelism is advertising a church as the product and marketing the pastor as a logo to get members for the church, compelling already established Christians to leave their Church and join their own church.
Christians are no longer planting churches where they are needed, missionaries don’t go on mission where the work is necessary, instead, they locate and go to developed and urban areas or thriving commercial environment that is densely populated, where churches are already established and start struggling for a place to plant a new church to convert other christians to their church with the slogan, our/my church is better.
There are places and areas; spots, joints, bars, brothels, villages, rural and riverine areas where souls needed to be won with people in need of being evangelised and compelled to come to the Christ kingdom. This is the real and true evangelism with great reward and blessings. The Bible told us that, he that win a soul is wise, and not ‘he that win another Christian from their church to another is wise’
Nigerian church leaders and planters are fond of going to areas and environment where there are already established churches and places of worship, knowing clearly there are some if not many churches in that area, they still clot and ensure to secure a place, no matter the space in that particular area or environment, atimes in a single building or complex where you already have about 3 to 5 similar or different churches clogging together. While there are villages and areas rooting to hear the gospel and yawning to experience Christianity.
The goings-on trend with some people is to open a church with the goal of commercialising the gospel through different marketing strategies and not purposely to win souls, bring people into the kingdom or make disciples.
Some astute businessmen, occultists, magicians and mischievous characters have found opportunity in proliferation of churches as profiteering adventure and openly demonstrate their acute interest to make money, abusing the tenet of Christianity and the purpose of evangelism. They fund, establish or sponsor a church with adequate financial support and all that is required to gullibly attract people’s satisfaction and their inordinate purpose to manipulate, deceive and mislead people through huge and elaborate investment in charity to contradict and confuse the genuine and real course of evangelism.
This is not to say, church proliferation and planting of more churches is wrong or evil. But to make clear that, opening a church does not translate to evangelism. Church planting and establishment is capital intensive and expensive to manage. Instead, spending and investing on evangelism and soul winning should be prioritized, it will yield more harvest and bring more gain to the kingdom of God.
Most Nigerian estate developer and landlords have found the opportunity in this lucrative adventure of abusing the major purpose of evangelism and soul winning as avenue to generate more income by letting or leasing out their available spaces to as many churches that are ready to clog up in a building, not minding their clogging together and closeness, the noise pollution, distractions and other inconveniences. Then, unhealthy membership drives and advertisement of programmes with rivalry and competitive spirit will become the order of the day among the churches, pastors and church members.
This has led to many pastors’ hearts to be corrupted and twisted turning to other sources for power and wealth which eventually changes the direction of God for them and endangers their lives.
The course for church proliferation through genuine evangelism and church planting should be adequately done with the good intentions of feeding the people with the word of God, leading them to focus on God, making them disciples of Christ and teaching them to be practical and responsible Christians.
The motives of church profiteering can be checkmated and controlled if various established church denominations, organizations and platforms can put in place a structure that will manage, control and monitor church planting and establishment.