Home Columnist Church growth and planting, my perspective (3) by Olatokunbo Odunuga
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Church growth and planting, my perspective (3) by Olatokunbo Odunuga

by Church Times

20.0 Now as to physical growth, it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who convicts sinners who are drawn by the Father- John 6:44. If we rely entirely on the prevalent altar calls, which I’m not opposed to but I observe that the practice has no origin in scriptures. The conversions of the 3,000 in Acts 2: 37 and the 5,000 in Acts 4:4 were not actualised by altar calls. Indeed, it was Charles G. Finney and William Booth who first initiated altar calls about two centuries ago.

21.0 By and large, it will not be safe to assume that those hundreds or thousands who sprint to the altar at the speed of Usain Bolt, after motivational or emotional sermons, may be largely unconverted. It is not by muttering a few sentences at the instance of the preachers, whose desires may be headcounts, that save souls but repentance as in Acts 2 v 37 and faith towards Christ. We may accept it or reflect on it, but the fruit of today’s body of Christ speak louder than our statistics.

Indeed, the saintly, Arthur W. Pink was of the opinion that probably one out of ten of those altar-bound “sprinters” are genuinely converted. But apparently, what interests many of us may be the headcount and not necessarily the heart counts.

22.0 I mentioned earlier on that spontaneous building of Cathedrals is not so critical, based on the fact that there were no single church buildings in the first, second, and third centuries until Emperor Constantine came to town in the fourth century and coupled with the position of scriptures in Acts 7: 48, 17: 24, Isaiah 66: 1-2, etc.

It is some of these grandiose structures that strive to compete with the “gold-laden” St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, that may be the cause financial albatross of today. Within those centuries having no formal church buildings and cathedrals evolved giants of faith coupled with heaven-mindedness, knowledge of the Holy and the spiritual status: Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius, Papias, Francis of Assisi, Athanasius, Irenaeus, Adamantius Origen, Augustine of Hippo, etc. Some may be asking, was it not the period of Roman Catholicism? Yes and No. There was indeed a very dark period and a time when Romanism was at its peak. For instance, there was the dark ages just before 1000 A.D. till about 1500 A.D.

23.0 Unprecedented and virtually unprintable events took place in the “Church” of the dark ages. Pope Alexander VI, who reigned for 11 years was formerly a wealthy Spaniard, who bought the Papacy by giving bribes to the electors. He appointed his relatives to juicy positions, killed rival Cardinals; appropriated their valuable possessions for himself, and had many children for several mistresses. Pope Stephen VI was embittered against his predecessor who actually died months before his own tenure. He ordered that the rotten corpse be exhumed for trial. It was dressed in a papal robe and placed on the throne to face trial and was found guilty. Stephen directed that the body be dragged through the city of Rome and finally tossed into the Tiber River.

Pope John literally turned the papal palace into a brothel. He eventually died of stroke on top of another man’s wife. A particular pope whose name I can’t recollect made for himself mistresses of hundreds of nuns during his tenure and another pope was organizing sex competition with awards to whoever could lay with most women within the time frame. The foregoing can be regarded, in a metaphorical sense, as “born-again” compared with several others.

You may purchase the book that is readily available in local bookstores- “Babylon: Mystery Religion” for more details. There is no comparison between modern popes and those of the dark ages. The gap is wider than between the Rich Man and Lazarus!

24.0 Now back on course, the saints mentioned earlier on were leaders who confronted wicked and ungodly Kings and Emperors, daring imprisonment and martyrdom. By reason of contemporary compulsive and over-ambitious church planting projects, many leaders have found themselves squarely on the back of crocodiles.

I wish some of us can read, “I WAS WRONG” by Jim Bakker to hear his bitter ‘testimony’, that he found himself running ministry literally to meet bills. I believe that by now, Pastor Chan who walked out of the 5,000-strong Mega Church he founded in the USA to start a home church of less than 10 would no longer find himself holding a financial tiger by the tail. I’m sure he will be sleeping deeper than before and having technicolor dreams with angelic visitations. Such lack of anxiety made it possible for Jacob to dream in spite of sleeping with a pillow of stone. It’s not unlikely that some leaders of ministries, especially in Africa, may have difficulty sleeping deep in spite of their water beds.

25.0 The early Church that the apostles left behind had one church in each city of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, etc, and the home churches. Won’t it be a valid suggestion to draw a cue from that all over again? Considering that there are presently thousands of denominations, if each denomination resolves to have two to four, or respectively according to Spirit’s express direction to each denomination, only viable churches in each city or town, there will still be multiple thousands of churches in each city, which to me seems adequate to serve even large populace. I didn’t limit it rigidly to one church in each city in view of the boundary and population explosion beyond what was obtained in the first and early centuries.

But it is not a secret that there are entire countries in Europe will less than 50 churches and the people live in decency, safety, security, peace, and physically abundant lives. Presently, after Syria, Nigeria ranks second globally among countries where citizens spend almost all their income on food. Nigeria’s index is 101%, meaning that people are on recurring debt to meet up the excess 1% and to pay rent, school fees, and other basic critical expenses. Our neighbor, Ghana’s index is 61%.

I read somewhere that a country in Europe with less than 20 churches closed down prisons due to a lack of inmates! Indeed, righteousness exalts a nation not the number of cathedrals planted or the income or revenue generated. Besides, Today’s church in general, especially in Africa had been a worrisome matter, with multitudes of charlatans and comedians behind the pulpits to the point that the President of Rwanda closed down about 6,000 churches about two years ago, given directives that only trained pastors with degrees in Theology should henceforth oversee churches.

May God grant the body of Christ the divine strategy to plant and grow churches with discretion to the glory of His name alone. Indeed the Lord will build His Church and the gate of Hades will not overcome it. Shalom- CONCLUDED


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