In our land these days, can we truthfully say that it is solely the love of God that motivates those who start or run churches and ministries or could there be other motivating factors that we do not know of? Is God Himself benefitting in any way from the increase in the number of these churches and ministries?
There are those who remain puzzled that despite the number of churches, Nigerians are not necessarily becoming more godly. In our country, religiousity has simply not translated into godliness. What then is the positive impact of the increasing number of churches and ministries? What can we, as a society, show for this vast increase? From this increase, can we seriously begin to enumerate the benefits that have accrued to the various institutions that define our nation?
Ordinarily, no sane, church-attending, bible-believing, Spirit-filled, hymn-singing, hand-clapping, heaven-bound, Rapture-expecting Christian would object at the thought of more churches and ministries being established. What draws the ire of decent people is the realisation that churches and ministries are being established for the wrong reasons.
Now, let us look at the usually acceptable or right reasons why churches and ministries should proliferate. One is to ensure that people do not have to travel far before they can find a place of worship. This will ensure that people do not give excuses for not practically belonging to the family of God. Another reason is the need to bring the church to the people thereby spreading the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. One other reason is the need to provide succour for weary souls that are in need of spiritual help. In most cases, however, it seems many of those who start churches and ministries have reasons different from the ones stated above. It is hardly surprising then that despite the high number of churches and ministries, any positive impact on the society is almost zero. For example, despite the rise in the number of churches and ministries, the level of violence in the society has increased, kidnapping of humans for ransom has become a thriving business and our leaders have become more daring. Children are being burnt alive. It is also a known fact that many church leaders are hands-in-glove with the looting politicians. Is it any wonder that fear, apprehension and uncertainty rule the land? Many of the pastors themselves no longer feel safe as they go about with heavies and other security details who carry guns and knives.
The chances are that churches and ministries will fail to positively impact the society until they wake up to their God-given responsibility of making the Word of God the focus, the hub, the fulcrum and the Final Court of Appeal in anything they do.
Under normal circumstances, it is the duty of the Christian church to ensure that the new Christian believer is properly disciple in the things of God. This is supposed to continue until that new believer truly internalises and practises Christian teachings of true repentance from dead works, new birth, cleansing in the blood of the Lamb, true worship, holiness, stewardship in the power of the Holy Spirit, soul winning, the oneness of the body of Christ, the necessity of being ready for the Rapture and several other things. Sadly, these things are no longer on the agenda of many church leaders and pastors.
Nowadays, someone would most likely want to start a church because he or she wants to be independent and thus be the overall boss. To such a person, other considerations are secondary. Usually, his or her real reason for wanting to start a church remains unstated. Others go into the ministry or start a church for economic reasons. Such people believe that there is nothing wrong in using God to feather their own nests. Also, there are those who, after a disagreement, would conclude that the next best thing to do is to start their own church. It is sad that these people refuse to recognise the fact that the afore-stated reasons are not the right reasons for giving birth to a church which is essentially an organism and much more than a mere organisation. The truth is that their churches can only be fashioned in their own image. Only life can give birth to life. The Lord Himself says in John 3 verse 6, ‘‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’’
Therefore, it would not be out of place to summarise that the main motives these days for wanting to start churches include the following: Self-aggrandizement or self-promotion, determination to prove a point, deliberately going out on the orders of the devil to pollute the body of Christ, influence seeking and finally financial gain. Most churches have become family business empires. None of the motives stated above can stand up to examination before God.
The all-important question is: Is it right to start a church without being led of God? Even after one has convinced himself or herself that there is a need for establishing a church, shouldn’t one clear it with God before going ahead to start one? The dangers of starting a church without being led of the Holy Spirit are as follows: The Almighty would probably not back actively a venture He did not initiate. Secondly, the founder is not unaware that he or she is not responsible to anyone, not even to the Lord. Thirdly, the challenges that would arise may lead the founder to seek power outside God. Fourthly, the one that will be celebrated in such a church will be the leader or founder and not Jesus Christ. Finally, the founder may be leading people to hell but still be deluding himself/herself that he/she is working for God.
A church that is established and run according to the will of God will have the following characteristics: Jesus Christ is the centre of attraction and not the leader or founder. The Holy Spirit is in control and leads the church. The church accepts the leadership of the Holy Spirit and follows keenly such leadership. The Word of God, that is, the holy bible is the Final Court of Appeal on any issue in such a church. Lastly, members of the church are being prepared for the Rapture.
Unfortunately, most people do not bother to ask the right questions before becoming members of a church because they do not realise that their lives and eternity may be at stake. The relevant questions that people should ask are: Is this church established according to the will of God? Is Jesus the centre of attraction in the church? What does the church stand for? What are the beliefs of the church? Does the church accept the finality of the bible? Does the church believe that her members’ lives must be transformed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ?