Full Project – EVANGELISM AND CHURCH PLANTING
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Evangelism is the act of spreading the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. It’s a way of reaching out to people who may not be aware of or familiar with Christianity’s teachings. The goal is to convert these individuals to Christianity, thereby increasing the number of believers and, by extension, the size of the church congregation.
Church planting, on the other hand, involves establishing new local Christian congregations. It’s often done in areas where there is no existing church, or where the existing churches are not effectively reaching the community. The idea is to create a new congregation that can better serve the local population, thereby attracting more believers and promoting church growth.
Both evangelism and church planting are seen as ways to fulfill the Great Commission, a term used to refer to Jesus’ instructions to his disciples to spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. They are both proactive approaches to church growth, as they involve actively reaching out to potential new believers, rather than waiting for people to come to the church on their own.
Christians especially the missionary and clergy men have always believed that the most effective way to reach the world for Christ is by starting new churches. This is why every people group and community needs a church. According to many scholars, the church is the hope of the world which is why they are committed to building missionally-minded, transformational churches among every people group and community in the world.
Our global society today is undergoing significant constant proliferation and planting of churches which have brought not only changing values, but also greater source of solutions to people’s problems. This rapid multiplication of churches is borne out of the understanding that in Nigeria, there is freedom of religious worship. Central to the constant planting and proliferation of churches is the issues of its environmental effects on the people in the society and the prospects as it’s provide solution to peoples problems which this research is out to address. To an observant mind, the pace at which churches are spreading like a wildfire in Nigeria is alarming. In the country, there is freedom of worship, places of worship are full, pilgrimages are over-booked and there is evidence of religious expansion all over the places.
Many people were cashing in on the situation of massive church planting, as they launch new religious organizations and societies. There is evidence that many are just charlatans looking for a means of livelihood. Many are perhaps genuinely religious. But it is obvious that our society has not become upright. It certainly has not become peaceful. There have been and still many hot and cold wars in the name of religion (Fayomi, 1993). Churches are noted to be springing up at an alarming and unprecedented rate in all available spaces, shops and uncompleted buildings. Worship come up in warehouses, hotels, abandoned cinema buildings, studios and other public places. It is a common sight to see a minimum of fifty different churches on a street of four kilometres long. This may paint a terrible picture, but such is the present spate of church proliferation and planting in the country.
In a statement made by Ogidi (1997), he categorically asserts that, “Nigeria is a country with easily the largest number of churches per capital in the world.”(Ogidi, 1997).Fayomi (1993) also described Nigeria as “a fertile soil for the growth of independent churches.”(Fayomi 1993). In urban cities and even rural areas, for lack of space and accommodation, six or more different churches could make do with a storey building. Such is the present state of events all over Nigeria. For example, in Ekiti State, as rightly observed by Tokunbo (2007), there are well above One hundred and fifty-seven Pentecostal denominations alone between 1970 and 2004 (Tokunbo, 2007). More parishes and new religious movements continue to be springing up each passing day. The spiritual discernment reportedly used by the Pastors and leaders planting churches in Nigeria is, “We prayed about it, and God said go and establish your own church.” Very often, one cannot compete with the self-proclaimed revelations and answers to prayers received by leaders looking to baptize their whims in God-talk. The phrase is usually evoked to silent objections and avoids careful teaching and accountability. And apparently, its use is on the rise, “God told me so” is now perhaps the dangerous four-word-sentence uttered by church leaders and planters. Several factors have been found to be responsible for this massive church planting. They include economic recession, rapid evangelization, beliefs and practices, unhealthy rivalry, genuine thirst for spiritual nourishment, theological issues, fanaticism, leadership tussle and the likes (Falayi, 1998).
However, it’s important to note that while these strategies can be effective, they also require a significant amount of resources and effort. They involve not just preaching and teaching, but also building relationships, understanding and addressing community needs, and providing ongoing support and guidance for new believers. Church planting is a process that results in a new (local) Christian church being established. It should be distinguished from church development, where a new service, new worship center or fresh expression is created that is integrated into an already established congregation. For a local church to be planted, it must eventually have a separate life of its own and be able to function without its parent body, even if it continues to stay in relationship denominationally or through being part of a network (Wikipedia, 2015).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The concept of evangelism and church planting has been a cornerstone in the growth and expansion of the Christian faith. Evangelism, the act of spreading the message of the Gospel, and church planting, the establishment of new local congregations, are seen as vital tools in the mission of the Church. However, despite the widespread practice of these strategies, many Christian organizations are struggling to achieve sustainable church growth.
The problem lies in the fact that while evangelism and church planting are widely practiced, the effectiveness of these strategies in promoting church growth is not always clear. Some churches experience rapid growth after a new plant, while others struggle to attract and retain new members. This inconsistency suggests that there may be other factors at play that are not being adequately addressed.
The phenomenon of church planting has its merits and demerits. The merits include, rapid evangelization, development of new leadership, provision of checks and balances to orthodox churches, promotes specialization in ministry and enhances the provision of an atmosphere in which human problems are at times solved (Adesanya, 2004). On the other hand, the demerits include, personality clashes, unhealthy competition for convert via homiletical propaganda, lack of unity, monetary crises, heresies, fanaticism and bickering (Tokunbo, 2007).
Although, massive church planting has certain demerits as noted above, but they are not strong enough for total condemnation of the phenomenon. This is because Jesus was reported in the Bible to have said that, the Gospel should be preached to all nations (Mk. 16:15). Then, Paul in Philippians 1:15-18, supports church planting and proliferation for the expansion of the kingdom of God. This is because religion is not fossil, but a living and dynamic phenomenon. It will surely continue to increase. However, the researcher is out to examine the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria.
Furthermore, there is a lack of comprehensive understanding and application of these concepts in a way that is relevant to the contemporary context. The traditional methods of evangelism and church planting may not resonate with the modern audience, leading to a disconnect and hindering church growth. Therefore, there is a pressing need to reevaluate and possibly redefine the concept of evangelism and church planting towards church growth in the modern context.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria.
- to examine the roles of evangelism in the growth of the Selected Churches.
- to investigate the effects of evangelism in the growth of Selected Churches.
- To determine the merits and demerits of massive church planting in Nigeria.
- To examine the factors encouraging the proliferation of churches in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the issues and prospects of church planting in Nigeria?
- what are the roles of evangelism in the growth of the Selected Churches?
- What are the effects of evangelism in the growth of Selected Churches?
- What are the merits and demerits of massive church planting in Nigeria?
- What are the factors encouraging the proliferation of churches in Nigeria?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
This study investigates the Concept of Evangelism and Church Planting by using House on the Rock, Okigwe, Imo State, as a case study and therefore would benefit churches and religious leaders to enable them to determine the various problems associated with evangelism and mission outreach and will also find it beneficial to understand what being born again Christians is all about. It will add to academic knowledge in the area of religion studies.
Findings from this study will educate the church administrators and the general public in Nigeria on the merits and demerits of massive Evangelism and church planting in Nigeria.
This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study on the concept of evangelism and church planting towards Church Growth in Nigeria will cover Selected Churches in Okigwe District of Assemblies of God in Okigwe.
Limitations of study
- Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
- Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Church Planting: Church planting is a term referring to the process that results in a new local Christian congregation being established.
Christian: is a person who follows or adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Christianity: religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who is the focal point of the Christian faith. It is the world’s largest religion, with over 2.4 billion followers, or 33% of the global population, known as Christians.
Evangelism: the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness
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Full Project – EVANGELISM AND CHURCH PLANTING