Pastor Seyi Oladimeji is the founder of Church Management Consult. He is the President of Church Administrators Society of Nigeria (CASON). In partnership with Babcock University CASON runs an executive Diploma in Church Administration- the first of its kind in Africa.
Oladimeji is a member of The Nigerian Institute of Management (MNIM) and a fellow of Chattered Institute of Administration (CIA) with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resources Management (HRM);
A Certified Church Consultant and a member of the Society for Church Consultants based in the United States of America (USA) Oladimeji is also faculty board member of Daystar Leadership Academy of Daystar Christian Centre.
In September, CASON celebrated its 10th anniversary in Lagos. In this interview with Church Times Nigeria, Pastor Oladimeji talks about the gift of administration in the Church and why the Church should embrace corporate governance if it truly wants to make impact in society.
Below are excerpts:
What were your expectations before you started Church Management Consult?
We started Church Management Consult in September 2007. When God called me to start the ministry he showed me the popular scripture we used to read when it comes to labourers and the harvest. That is Matt 9v37 where Jesus said, the harvest is plenty, but the labourers are few.
But then, God told me that the few labourers are weak and despondent. He asked me to go and strengthen the weak hands of the few labourers. He told me specifically not to start a church because pastoring a church is like nurturing a baby. He said starting a church wouldn’t allow me to move around and be a blessing to the Church as a whole.
I obeyed; we started Church Management Consult and here we are today. The Lord has since made me realise that all management principles are taken from the Bible. The Lord asked me to document all that I have learned in church management while I was working at Day Star Christian Centre as a Church Administrator and turn it into a curriculum to help churches.
So we began with running a basic certificate programme in Church administration. We ran the programme for almost two years. By 2010, I had discovered other materials for an advanced diploma in church administration. These were things I learned as far back as when I was in Rhema Chapel before we began Daystar.
As time went on, the graduates of both the advanced and basic courses decided to have a yearly forum where they could meet and discuss issues concerning the church. That was what gave birth to the Church Administration Society of Nigeria.
Pastor Sam Adeyemi gave the message in 2013 when we did the inauguration of CASON. He spoke on on succession plan in the Church. The first conference we had the following year in 2014 was on Church Corporate Governance. Incidentally, we are still having issues about corporate governance in 2023 in the Church. In 2019 the theme was the Church of the Future. It was as if we knew there would be Covid-19. The future we talked about suddenly came on us. People started calling us when COVID-19 started wondering if we saw the vision before the conference. Somehow God has been helping us in to plan for the yearly seminar to the point that the issues discussed are what the Church needs per time.
So how has the running of the organisation been since you started?
By and large, the Lord has helped us. We have been able to harness a lot of resources in the area of church management. If somebody had told me I would write a pamphlet in my life I would argue. But doing this ministry has made book writing easy for me.
I must give credit to my Pastor, Sam Adeyemi. He was the one who first encouraged me to write a curriculum on church administration when we were to start Daystar Academy. That curriculum became useful when I was to start the ministry.
The first seminar we had was church marketing and creative evangelism. About 120 people came for the seminar but I was not satisfied with the attendance because I was used to seeing large crowds at events. God made me realise that even the most popular pastor in Nigeria could not gather so much crowd.
The Lord then told me to turn the content of the seminar into a book. That was the reason I began to write books. I have heard testimonies about the book. I first wrote Church Administration and Management and then Church Marketing, and Creative Evangelism. I have since done several other books after the first two. These books have blessed many lives.
Many church people are skeptical about corporate governance. The question they ask is what is the place of the holy spirit in administration?
The Holy Spirit is the chief Administrator of any church. But the holy spirit will need vessels to flow through. The Bible tells us about the gift of administration in 1Cor 12v28. Without administration and organisation, we will be dissipating energy unduly. It is like working with a blunt cutlass. If a ministry has no structure, it has no future. Structure has to do with creating the right organogram for the church and putting things in place for its smooth running.
Some ministries had made names before but are no more because they lacked corporate governance. Administration is the live wire of a local church. No matter how anointed a pastor is, if there is no structure the church will collapse. It is just a matter of time.
But some churches collapse due to the immoral lifestyle of the pastor.
That is the moral failure of the leader which could also lead to the collapse of a church. But I am painting a scenario where all things are seemingly okay, that is the pastor lives right, and the doctrine is right. In that case, if there is no administrative structure, no matter how right the church is in terms of doctrine, it will cave in. This is the beauty of administration, it is the live wire of any ministry. It is what will help the church in Nigeria to fulfill its divine mandate.
Many people worry that the church is not making impact in the larger society. You have related with many pastors over the years. What do you think the problem is?
It all boils that to a lack of corporate governance in the church. The problem of Nigeria can’t be solved until the church puts its house in order. The church is supposed to be a template of good governance. People should see the transparency in the Church so they can replicate what they see in the larger society.
The reason we are not advancing God’s kingdom the way it should be is lack of administration. Until the church gets it right the society can’t move forward. When I was complaining to God about the last political dispensation, the holy spirit led me to Psalm 100v2, which says the Lord shall send forth the rod of his strength out of Zion. The Lord made me realise that the only thing that brings change to man is if the person has an encounter with God and his life is transformed.
Then, that person must see a template of how corporate governance is done in a mini version so it can be implemented on a larger scale. That is why Vatican City in Rome is an example of such corporate governance. Some of the private universities that are well-run in Nigeria are run by churches. So we already have snippets of what it takes to do things right.
Churches run the universities well, but the churches are not run well. How do we reconcile this?
This is because we pick and choose what soothes us. But this thing is holistic. Give me any management strategy and you will see it in the bible. Is it war strategy, it is in the Bible. Is it how to manage money, or people, think of anything, and you will find it in the Bible.
What are the most embarrassing administrative lapses you have seen in the churches so far?
I was reading the parable of Talent one morning in Matthew 25. I discovered that the lord of those servants gave to all his servants according to their ability. The Holy Spirit then asked, how did the Lord of those servants know their ability?
Here, God is saying, that he gave every man according to their capacity. In the miracle of the multiplication of bread, Jesus said, gather the remnant. They gathered 12 baskets full. And the holy spirit said to me that is the degree of wastage in the church when there is no management in place. In the realm of God, there is no waste and there is no scarcity.
Generally speaking, many churches are suffering from a lack of corporate governance, they do things anyhow. I traced administration to Gen 1. Between Genesis Chapter 1v1 and verse 2 something tampered with the first world.
But then God had to create man to be in charge of the garden. That is management principle at work. Wherever there is order, increase is inevitable. But many churches are lacking in orderliness. They don’t have a laid-down structure for many of the things they do. That is why it is difficult to manage funds at their disposal very well.
The church is a public institution. So long it is a church and registered, it is an incorporated trustee that is in charge of the running of the church. The church of Jesus belongs to Jesus, it does not belong to man. Ideally, the church is not a private possession of a man. It does not belong to man. Any G.O. that thinks church is what he can bequeath to his children is being deceived. The church is a charity by law and it is supposed to be run by a board of trustees.
But what if the child of the founder displays the capacity to lead after his father’s death?
Well, in that case, it would have been established that the child can lead. The church won’t be handed over to him because he is the child of the owner, it will be because he meets the criteria of both character and competence. The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network died recently. His son was elected by the trustees to take over the enterprise.
It was easy for him to be elected because while the father was alive, the young man was already doing so much for all to see. It was clear he had capacity, competence, and character. So if the child of the founder does not have the character and competence, it will amount to killing him if a church or organization is handed over to him after the founder’s death. In the first place, the church is a public entity. Like I said, if the church is registered with he CAC, it is the trustees of the church that will determine the management.
The competence level is management, the character is the grace of God. It is God who calls men. If the son does not have the capacity, asking your son to take over, is wanting to kill him.
I also discovered that many leaders don’t want to change. Decision makers don’t come to our training where they can learn management principles. At best they send their associates and many of the things they learn are not implemented when they get back to church.
Going forward, I believe some of them are coming to embrace this truth. You can’t do anything against the truth. When they embrace and do it, it will bless their ministry.
We are supposed to be a witness to the world. We are supposed to show an example to the world using the scriptures and following it through. If we embrace corporate governance it won’t be long for the Church to take its place.
When Jesus came on the scene, he did not topple the existing government. He only showed an example for the world to see. That is why Nicodemus came to him by night and attest to His work. It is a silent crusade. We don’t need to shout. Light does not make noise to shine. When the church embraces the message of corporate governance in doing things the normal way, it will make it easy for us to take over in all the seven mountains of influence we talk about.