When I was writing part 1, I realized I had never attended a church that did not have a “building project”. Everywhere I went, every church seemed to be building something and at the end of each service, a pastor or minister would grab the mic and convince everyone to donate to “the Lord’s work”. This said pastor or minister would then highlight the project’s progress and how much hasn’t been done, how many cement blocks are left, how much money needs to still be given. He would share personal testimonies of how God blessed him because he contributed to building a church and how every time he walked past a church his money went to, he felt pride knowing he had sown a seed in that building. After his really intense speech begging people to give, he would pray for the congregants and encourage them to make pledges. Some pledged what they had and some pledged what they did not have. Others – people like me – nodded instead. We kuku no get money.
Now, do I have a problem with building churches? No. All I have is a standing belief that: Churches should only be built in places where they are really needed and expanded when expansion becomes dire. (Except, of course, for purposes of tourism.)
If you follow the Nigerian Christian narrative, you will assume the main problem we face is a lack of churches. It is not our hypocritical, love-lacking Christianity or the cementation of false doctrines or poor welfarism for our members or the persecution of Christians in Northern Nigeria, it is building more churches and increasing the number of branches. Cos if not, why are we still building churches in Lagos? Does Lagos need more churches?
I live in a small community in Ogun state and in the short road stretch that separates several houses, I have counted almost fifteen churches pastored by the same general overseer. The vision is to have their churches in two minutes walking distance and five minutes driving distance. And this is the Lord’s work.
Now, my community is not an exception. Look around you. Are there churches on every street corner? Are there four or more churches in one building? Are there churches facing each other and creating a cacophony on Sunday mornings? Has your “Daddy in the Lord” not said he will build the largest mega church or the biggest church auditorium? Oh. Wait, wait. He hasn’t? Well, mine is currently doubling the size of the national auditorium and no, I don’t know what is wrong with the old one.
I went to a church in Port Harcourt where the pastor said God was unhappy we were using ceiling fans instead of air conditioners. He then implored the congregants to donate money and “trust God for new air conditioners for the sanctuary”. I understand that worship places should be comfortable but how much is too much? Where do we draw the line? When is it okay to stop taxing poor people so you can erect humongous auditoriums?
Majority Nigerians are poor. We are now the world’s poverty capital. One report even said we have more absolutely poor people than India and China combined. But guess what? Our people are constantly told to commit to “the Lord’s work”.
Who made it the Lord’s work? Did God ask you to buy designer suits for the choir? Did God ask you to contribute exactly a million naira to “appreciate” your pastor? Does God like only air-conditioned churches? Does God want more branches? More mega-churches?
There should be a criteria church projects should meet before they qualify as “the lord’s work”.
I don’t know God as much as I would like to but I know He doesn’t want y’all running all those building projects. There are other things to use money for. Worst case scenario, bring the money make we share am.