One of the nemesis of the average Nigerian and indeed the Christian is inability to connect with the past for the benefit of the future. We forget easily past exploits, mistakes and carry on as if history bears no relevance.
That is the sense with which I view the celebration of large auditorium being put up by churches. We forget that in this country we once had a tripartite convergence of large gatherings including the Deeper life Gbagada Church, the Patrick Anwuzie Zoe Ministry and the Wonder City of Pastor Gabriel Oduyemi.
Those three churches were one time or the other the reigning churches. The influx of people to Gbagada in those days was phenomenal. W.F. kumuyi had services on week days. He ran about five services on both Monday and Thursday at the Gbagada dome. People travelled from all walks of life to experience God’s touch and deliverance. It was celebrated while it lasted. But Pastor kumuyi did not over reach himself. The church broke into clusters later. Today Deeper life Church has been able to manage it’s growing number of worshippers. It’s still a strong church but operates quietly with branches in every nook and cranny. The Gbagada church has been rebuilt. It’s better than what it used to be. But the crowd there is not as boisterous as what it was in the 80s.
Pastor Oduyemi’s Wonder City in Aja was like a Mecca at a time. People travelled from as far as Port Harcourt to attend weekly programs at the Wonder City. Oduyemi had a jet and was controlling a massive crowd. By the time Oduyemi passed on, the church had reset. Thank God for the numerous lives he touched. But the Church is not what it used to be. The crowd had grown thin.
Zoe Ministry led by Pastor Patrick Anwuzie did great exploit with his ozugbozugbo exploit. He was charismatic and commanded large crowd. I remember his church in Enugu filled the stadium in Enugu in less than one year it was established. It was the rave of the moment. When Zoe Ministry was reigning RCCG was largely unknown. The headquarters was in Orile Iganmu but he held regular programs at the national stadium. Today, the church has gone to a silent mode.
Apart from these three Churches that made waves in the 80s and 90s there were other crowd pulling churches in the 80s like Christ Chapel international Churches . But the lead pastor of the church. Dr. Tunde Joda did not have an empire spirit. He was more liberal. Many left his church to start theirs. But the church is still waxing.
The point of this editorial is that there is nothing new. But my worry really is that it seems our leaders are oblivious of the changing times. Many years ago when Winners Chapel was to inaugurate it’s 50,000 capacity auditorium I was privileged to be part of a press conference to herald the auditorium. I asked Bishop Oyedepo, what happens if the population of your church exceeds the present capacity? He said when the time comes things would fall in place…now the church is tinkering with a 100,000 seater auditorium though nothing has been heard about that in the recent time until Pastor Paul Enenche came up with his church’s 100,000 seater.
One thing you can’t take from Enenche is his sincerity and his zeal for God. There is no doubt about the grace of God upon his life. He is not selfish and not flamboyant. I really can’t place is love for large auditorium. But I am sure the crowd in the church must have overwhelmed him. The question again is will he build a one million seater auditorium when the population of the church increases?
The.mistake of the church in Nigeria is that we keep looking at the Yongi Cho South Korea church…many were inspired by it. And there is this pride about being the pastor of the largest single congregation.. Where will that take us?
While congratulating Pastor Enenche on the great work of evangelism and the great dome I will advise that he begins to appreciate that we are in a new age..we are in a global village. Time will come when the building will become too small or irrelevant.
But then I think rather than nail Enenche we should thank God for him. I am sure he is well aware that the building is just an accommodation for members of the church. Let us give God the glory and let the children of God keep worshipping God in truth and spirit. The church indeed is marching on.
Gbenga Osinaike 08033336243