This research is based on an investigative approach into the immorality in the 21st century churches in Nigeria. The establishment of churches has being on the increase from the inception of Christianity into Nigeria till date, yet the more churches the higher level of decadence and immorality experience. This study attempts to investigate the root causes of immorality and corruption in the 21st century churches in Nigeria. The methods of approach adopted for this study are historical, comparative and descriptive methods. This study used a mixed method approach combining focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and congregant’s survey. The study revealed that different church leaders and founders always have one or two bias reasons for starting their church; the 21st churches are founded on the ground of divisions, filled with arrogance, seemingly supportive of immorality, involved in litigation, and struggling over wealth and prosperity. The study engaged both primary and secondary data in an attempt to examine the level of immorality and came out with factors responsible for the escalation of moral decadence in spite of the escalation of Churches in Nigeria. The study ends with concluding remarks and also proffers solutions and way forward in eradicating immorality from the system.
1.1 Background Of The Study
There has been a remarkable increase in the number of Churches in Nigeria and also a commensurate rise in immorality and other social vices. It is believed that if Churches are on the increase, its positive impact in the lives of the people should be greater than when there were few Churches. Almost every major street within the urban areas of Nigeria today plays host to a church. Millions of Nigerians, from the North to the South pledge allegiance to one Christian denomination or another, just as much as Church auditoriums and Crusades are thronged with millions of worshippers all across the nation. Yet corruption remains rampant. The question automatically lends itself: how much influence does the Church bring to bear on Christian adherents and worshippers? To what extent does it, or has it been able to regulate the behavior of millions of Nigerian Christians? And if this influence were effectively asserted, what would be its impact in checking corruption?
Nigeria, a religious and most populated country in Africa with a population of about 180 million in 2015 (World Population Prospects 2015: 21), has two popular religions which are Christianity and Islam. Though there are a lot of conflicting percentages in the population of Christians in Nigeria by different academic sources, the Pew Research Center in 2010, gave the published percentages of dissimilar sources as regards to the population of Christians in Nigeria. In Pew’s publication, the Demographic and Health Survey gave percentage of Christians as fifty-three percent in 2008, Afro barometer also came up with fifty-six percent for the population of Christians in 2008, the 1963 Census in Nigeria attested the population of Christians to thirty six percent and also the Pew Forum announced Christian’s percentages in Nigeria to be forty six percent in 2009 (Pew Research Center 2010). With these percentages from different year, it really shows the pace in which Christianity is going in Nigeria.
From the Bible (Proverbs 14:28; Acts 4: 13) it is lucid that God is interested in Church growth and at the same time piety of every member of the Church. Thus, Christians are supposed to showcase all the embodiment of godliness. From all indications, the reverse seems to be the case in Africa and this is increasingly becoming worrisome to scholars across the continent. Mfumbusa B. 2010, therefore wondered if the Church growth and rise in corruption are coterminous in these societies. Scholars and other agencies (Adams, A. 2015) who studied this phenomenon seem to agree that, initially, when Christianity was first introduced in Nigeria, it had the impact of leading people to holiness than contemporarily when the reverse is the case. Additionally, other writers such as (Kalu, O. U. (ed.), (1978) also all seem to agree that little improvement has been recorded in attitude, behaviour and comportment of Nigerians though the number of Churches has risen exorbitantly. Consequently, this must have been responsible for corrupt activities that have caused the nation to be constantly ranked low in the corruption index (Ejike, E. (2014). It is clear that so far the Nigerian government is either not doing anything about this problem or that efforts put in place to curtail it are weak and have failed to yield the requisite results.
In the 14th century when Christianity found its way to Nigeria with the help of the missionary, they came along with various developments which is helping the Nigeria state till today, and which the country eventually build on. For instance, the religion brought along healthcare service by building hospitals, and good education by building schools. In fact it was with the help of the missionaries that the church of God began to grow and expand through rigorous evangelism compelled with Western Education. The genesis of the proliferation of churches could be traced back to the theological doctrine and administrative styles of the missionaries which was against African ways of doing things. The African leaders rose against such un-Africanism in the church and there were protests against such un-Africanism which led to the breaking away of so many churches from the missionary churches. These factors and others will be examined in the cause of immorality in the 21st century churches in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The increase, growth and expansion of churches in Nigeria have been greatly influenced by great minister of God through evangelism and revival among the Christians. Observably, some churches have been growing today which are deviating from the aims and objectives of preaching and spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all nations which starts from their localities. Many pastors and founders of these newly established churches see church as a means of generating income into their own pocket thereby leaning the spiritual aspects for physical aspects. It has also been observed that most of these newly generated church founders have mislead a lot of people especially their church members on the path of truth thereby leading them to the path of destruction. Though, some of these churches were established with good and sincere motives, but it will be observed that proportion of the good ones is lesser when compared with the fake churches. It is also obvious that many places in Nigeria have been turned into worship centers. This study therefore investigates into the immorality in the 21st century churches in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this study is on an investigative approach into the immorality in the 21st century church. The study intends to achieve the following sub-objectives in the course of the study;
- To investigate the factors responsible for the high level of immorality in churches in Nigeria.
- To examine the negative effects of immorality on the 21st century churches towards church growth.
- To investigate and outline the role the church has towards the restoration of moral conducts in the 21st century church.
- To explore the causes of the rise in moral depravity in spite of the growth in the number of Churches in the country.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
H0: The church plays no significant role in the restoration of moral conducts in the 21st century church.
H1: The church plays a significant role in the restoration of moral conducts in the 21st century church.
H0: The level of immorality in the 21st century church is low in spite of the rapid increase in the number of Churches.
H2: The level of immorality in the 21st century church is high in spite of the rapid increase in the number of Churches.
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is crystal clear that so far the Nigerian Christian Association is not doing anything about the problem of immorality or that efforts put in place to curtail it are weak and have failed to yield the requisite results. Therefore the findings of this study will principally benefit the Christian Association OF Nigeria (CAN) in curtailing the immoralities experience in Christianity today. The study will be a contribution to existing literatures on corrupt practices and moral decadence in the 21st century churches in Nigeria. It will also be of great benefits to pastors, church founders, missionaries, church leaders and Christendom in spreading the message of Christ in place of disparity in doctrines. The findings of this study will be useful to the government and the general public on the role of the church in ensuring sustainable peace and unity among the 21st century church. Finally, it will 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 subject of immorality and corruption.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This study will cover an investigative approach into the immorality in the 21st century church in Nigeria general as regards to the issue of corruption, doctrinal controversies, church leadership, church growth, societal peace and harmony. There were some constraints tending to interrupt the flow of this study such as;
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).
Members Reluctance: In most cases the members of the selected churches often feels reluctance over providing required information required by the researcher. This result in finding information where the structured questionnaires could not point out.
Researcher’s Commitment: The researcher, being of full time student spent most of her time on other academic activities such as test, class work, assignment, examination etc which takes average focus from this study.
Inadequate Materials: Scarcity of material is also a major hindrance. The researcher finds it difficult to lay hands on several required material which could contribute immensely to the success of this research work.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Immorality: Immorality is the violation of moral laws, norms or standards. Immorality is normally applied to people or actions, or in a broader sense, it can be applied to groups or corporate bodies, and works of art.
21st century: The 21st century is the current century of the Anno Domini era or the Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It is the first century of the 3rd millennium. It is distinct from the century known as the 2000s, which began on January 1, 2000 and will end on December 31, 2099.
Churches: Christian Church is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the church invisible, and/or whole group of people belonging to Christianity throughout the history of Christianity. In this understanding, “Christian Church” does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the “body” of all “believers”, both defined in various ways.
Proliferation: proliferation is defined as the rapid increase in the number or amount of something.
Orthodox: Orthodoxy is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion. In the Christian sense the term means “conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church.”
Pentecostal: Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks.
Church ministers: In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community.
Corruption: In general, corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit.