The Church rose to its peak in the medieval period with its domination of world affairs and later waned in the face of rising secularism that grew out of the industrial revolution and free market enterprise. Another product of the industrial revolution which is monumental to the church is the Protestant Reformation championed by Martin Luther. There were a number of changes that the church underwent. For example, we had the emergence of the Puritans in the 16th and 17th century who wanted to purify and free the Church of England from government control.
This movement gave rise to pietism, the practice of deep devotion and reverence for God. What came out of this was the evangelical reawakening which was first ignited by the Moravian Movement and spread wide to the whole England through the work of the early Methodists like George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles Wesley and a number of English laymen in the 18th century and beyond. The Moravian Movement and the Methodist Movement championed a re-enactment of Christian mission to the heathen world, a kind of what was obtainable in the primitive church during the era of the Lord’s Apostles. This missionary activity started purely based on the Biblical commission to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28: 19), but was later hijacked by imperialist rulers who claimed to be Christian kings helping to ‘champion the course the gospel.’ Again, the church became a victim of government by subjecting her mission to state control.
Hence, the church is accused of collaborating with the expansionist and oppressive policy of colonial administration all over the world. These antecedents continue to hunt the church till today and it accounts for the general apathy against her in Europe and most of the Asian countries. In the late 19th and early 20th century, a new brand of Christianity emerged from the Wesleyan Holiness movements in America first promoted by the Rev Charles H. Parham, a former Methodist minister. By 1906, William J. Seymour, a black American one-eyed preacher who was under the tutelage of C. H. Parham was caught up with an extra-ordinary manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in a Methodist Mission House he was using on Asuza Street, Los Angeles, USA.
The place became a centre of spiritual activity and turned out to be a pilgrim cite with people pouring in from all over the world and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the second blessing, a replica of the Pentecost experience of the early Disciples of Christ. Eventually, modern Pentecostalism took its name from this. This helped the church to recover its commission once again and led to renewed missionary activity. Again and again, the church would derail. Again and again, God calls His people back to His purpose. Right now Pentecostal and Charismatic form of Christianity seem to have reached their plateau, a position of complacency. A critical look at all Christian groups now, especially in Nigeria, shows that most of them are no longer concerned about making disciples for Christ. In my own judgment, every church is now either Pentecostal or charismatic. Churches are now into empire expansion, acquiring this and that here and there.
Yes, it is right for the church to have a sound financial base but that should not be the primary focus of the Church of God. Some church leaders continue to amass wealth for themselves only and neglect the highly priced sacrificial leadership. What we use to know as follow-up no longer holds. Most altar calls after message now are for promotion, prosperity, healing and deliverance and not for repentance and conversion. The church has become user-friendly. Many ministers of God especially in Nigeria have become prayer contractors, praying and prophesying good things for the highest bidder. Even when we are not actually praying, we tell them we are praying earnestly for their progress.
If Peter and John were modern preachers they would have prayed for one kind of spirit to fall on Simon the Sorcerer since he had good money to pay for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8: 14-24). The church is supposed to be the conscience of the nation but some of us have become collaborators in wrecking the nation like the High Priest Amaziah, ‘the palace chaplain’ during the reign of King Jeroboam, who was enjoying the booties of the land and turned a blind eye to the evils of his day. God sent Amos, an obscure figure, to minister in Bethel and Amaziah ordered him out, ‘Get out of here, you seer! Go on back to the land of Judah and do your preaching there! Don’t bother us here in Bethel with your prophecies, especially not here where the royal sanctuary is!’ (Amos 7:12-13 NLT).
Some churches that were known for humility and quiet contribution to nation building and development have become sycophants. In all our church programmes now, even revival services and crusades, what do we target? What vision do we ministers receive when praying for programmes? The amount of money that will be raised or the of souls that will be won to the Lord? Those who are our great financiers and donors, do we bother if they have repented of their sins or have problems that needed attention? Because we fail to win souls of people to God, we have no control and moral authority over them.
Because we aim at their money and not their soul they will continue to control us. If we win people to the Lord, we win all that they have and own, but if we win only their money we loose our integrity before them and before God. And when people loose their integrity before God, they are finished. O God! Bring us back into your purpose for us on earth. In Christ’s name. Amen.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters