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| Format: Ms Word | 1-5 Chapters | Table of Content|


Study Level: BTech, BSc, BEng, BA, HND, ND or NCE

Amount: ₦3,000.00

                                             CHAPTER ONE


1.1 Background to the study

Politics is the process of balancing competing interests in a social system. In a similar fashion, there are competing interests in any religious organization. As odd as this may sound to the ears, there is politics in the church. Church leadership meetings are easily politicized when the outcome of such meeting could favor the interests of one side or the other. Even in the selection of elders to be ordained for service to God in the church, church politics often tends to take the lead role in most cases (The seventh day Adventist, 2004).

Most times church politics are agenda driven, meaning a person or group of persons wants something. The major complication is that the agendas are often personal and sometimes selfish, but get communicated as if they are purely about the mission of Christ. This is further complicated because it is rarely malice that drives the personal agenda. It is more often good people in church who genuinely believe that what they are doing or what they want is right.

The challenge is those good people who are attempting to do good things can lose sight of the big picture and begin to justify their idea, (their part of the mission,) as the entire mission. Not all church politics are negative. In a positive nature, politics are how we get things done in a church or any other organization. Politics are the lubricant that oils the church’s organizational gears. It’s about people working together and setting their preferences aside for the greater good. When this process becomes corrupted, then trouble begins, and the church culture can become divided and even toxic (Dan Reiland, 2012).

According to the Merriam-Webster Colligate Dictionary definition of politics, it is the art or science of government. In other words, the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing government policy. Politics is the art or science concerned with winning or holding control over government. It is also a political affairs or business especially: competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership. Sadly, politics have not remained in the world of which they belong. Politics came into place in church as early as AD 60 with reference to (Galatians 2). Politics in the church attempt hiding behind a façade of spirituality or the rescue of a “vital practice”. Politics in the church act in direct opposition to the words of Jesus. Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them (Mark 10:42). Politics in the Nigerian church life nearly always encompass at least two common vices.

Politics cleverly wield control through the means of money. The meaning of “power of money” is perhaps more clearly clarified in the doctrine of materialism. Materialism is nothing less than a preoccupation with material rather than spiritual. More simply defined; belief that the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress. Materialistic spirits thrive in the womb of the second vice—that politics are in the “other church”. Not our church; but the one over there. Acknowledging accomplice with materialistic methodology is seldom accepted by “us”. Politics in church therefore are “somewhere or somebody else”.

The aforementioned vices seriously divide church and scatter the sheep. It divides because of the spirit of which it is. And no matter how spiritual the face of politics may appear— that which a spirit is of, it truly is. A sheep clothed wolf cannot hide (Luke 12:3, Heb 4:12, 13). Leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ is not an art or science. It is the love and compassion of a heart after God and for the people of God. Politics in the church seriously violate the call to divinely sanctioned leadership (Titus 1:5-9). Leadership is not political affairs, or business, and God forbid and have great mercy upon us if it ever be competition between interest groups or individuals for power and leadership. And God have yet more mercy upon us if it involves artful or dishonest practices to accomplish “religious end” (Romans 1:18).

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1.2 Problem Statement

There has been a commensurate rise in religious crisis, disagreement, and power tussle in Churches Assemblies of God recently which led to abuse of power, corruption and disunity of members. Religious practices and beliefs are meant to unite the followers and educate them about religious tolerance and non-discrimination. However, politics and division has led to social and religious disunity among its adherents. The struggle for the position of General Superintendent (GS) brought about two different factions and division in Assemblies of God church since 2014. According to Vanguard newspaper headline published on December 4, 2014 which read; “Leadership tussle rocking Assemblies of God church in Enugu deepens”. Assemblies of God Church crisis: Court upholds Paul Emeka as GS (December 13, 2014). While on August 31, 2014 Encomium media tweeted “More trouble in Assemblies of God Church as sacked general superintendent removed as trustee”. The political struggle for power and supremacy in the church persisted to 2015 when the Vanguard Newspaper published: “Brethren at war: How power tussle tears Assemblies of God Church apart” (Vanguard, July 2015). While the power tussle crossed into 2016 after several court cases and appeals, the Vanguard Newspaper reported thus; “Assemblies of God Church Crisis: Supreme Court stalls injunction restraining Rev. Emeka” (Vanguard, January 22, 2016).

According to a live interview by The Guardian Newspaper with one Mr. Chikezie Okafor who is a member of the church, Mr. Chikezie said that the certificate forgery was not the case the members were fed with in 2014, when the crisis started. He said: “We were told that Emeka embezzled church funds, sold church property and refused moves to get him to account for some of his actions. This had given rise to the ‘suspension’ and ‘excommunication’ and subsequent ‘appointment’ of Okoroafor, who was then assistant, as ‘Acting Superintendent’. “Truth of the matter is that, ever since the AG Nigeria crisis started in 2014, the traducers have been changing their wild allegations every other month,” he recalled. “The original sin of Rev. Emeka was that he was high-handed, took Church to Court, committed some nebulous constitutional breaches and sacked senior personnel of Evangel University, owned by the Church. But some months later, when their baseless allegations were deflated, they moved on to the next level. That was when allegations of fraud, selling of the Church’s property in London for over N200m surfaced. “Again, that allegation was proved to be a figment of their imagination. Not yet done, and in an unbridled desire to achieve their single-minded objective, which is to remove Rev. Emeka from office by any means, and hijack the property of the Church for their personal gain, the macabre dancers brought yet another laughable allegation. This time around, that Rev. Emeka forged his professorial certificate. Some Nigerians have described the crisis in the Assemblies of God Church as an embarrassment to the Christendom. Some years back, Assemblies of God Church was the pride of many churches with the way it maintained discipline, but now it is one crisis after another. A well respected church in Nigeria like the Assemblies of God which was known to be the mother of Pentecostal churches to be in such mess poses a serious challenge. If this problem of two factions is not resolved, it could affect the unity that existed in the Assemblies of God Church. There is need, therefore to establish the causes, effect and possible solutions of political division between the two factions.

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1.3 General Objectives

The general objective of the study was to find out the causes and effect of church politics; in Assemblies of God Ikwerre South District.

  1. Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of the study were to:

  1. Ascertain if truly politics do exist in the Assemblies of God Ikwerre South District.
  2. Investigate the causes of Church politics in Assemblies of God Church.
  3. Examine the influence of church politics on the evangelical mission of the church.
  4. Proffer lasting solutions to the challenges of power tussle and church politics in Assemblies of God Church.
    1. Research Questions

The study was guided by the following research questions:

  1. Does politics exist in Assemblies of God Church?
  2. Are there significant effect of church politics on church development and the evangelical mission of the church?
  3. Are there strategies to tackling the problem of church politics in Assemblies of God with a lasting solutions?
  4. What are the causes of church politics among members of Assemblies of God Church?

1.5 Significance of Study

This includes both practical and theoretical significance

1.5.1  Practical significance

The study findings are expected to help government in formulating policy that can be used to regulate the different religious groups in the country. This will help in reducing the rampant division among the churches as a result of church politics.

The findings of the study are expected to help churches by outlining the factors leading the disunity among Assemblies of God church leaders and this can act as a guide for them to follow and do the right thing.

This study is expected to guide the community in Ikwerre Rivers about the causes of disunity among Pentecostal churches and how to mitigate them in order for them to live in harmony.

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1.5.2  Theoretical Significance

Theoretically this study is expected to be used as a reference by other researchers who may want to conduct a similar study.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study includes its geographical, content and time aspects.

1.6.1  Geographical Scope

The study was conducted in Rivers State. The district is in Ikwerre District. Ikwerre land lies roughly within the coordinates of 4°:50N 5°:15N, 6°:30E 7°:15E. The geology and geomorphology of the area are intimately associated with that of the Niger Delta which was created in the Holocene by the process of erosion and sedimentation. The Ikwerre cultural area is bordered by the Ohaji/Egbema of Imo State to the northeast, the Ogba to the northwest, the Ekpeye and Abua to the west, the Ijoid groups of Degema, the Kalabari and Okrika to the south, the Eleme and Oyigbo to the southeast and the Etche to the east (Ikunga, Solomon, 2018). The Ikwerre tribe is made up of four main groups, namely the Elele group (Ishimbam), the Igwuruta-Aluu (Ishiali) group, the Rumuji-Emohua-Ogbakiri (REO) or Risimini group, and the OPA group (Obio/Port Harcourt/Akpor). Ikwerre was chosen because it is one of the districts with division among Pentecostal Churches.

1.6.2  Content scope

The study was restricted to the effects of church politics on the adherents Assemblies of God Church Ikwerre such as power struggle, corruption and hatred. The scope also looked at the effect and possible solutions to division.

1.6.3  Time Scope

The study covered a time from 2014-2016. This included the time when the church power struggle started. This was adequate enough to give the researcher required information.

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1.7. Limitations of the study

As with any research there are study limitations that should be acknowledged for the benefit of future research efforts.

There was a challenge of gaining entry to the church organization. The church leaders explained that as a policy, they expected any person aiming to conduct the research in their organisation to make an application in advance in a period of four months prior to the survey. This was not achievable since at the Faculty, introductory letters are only given after submission of the proposal for review. However, the leaders understood the researcher’s explanation and allowed him to conduct the research.

Another challenge that was faced was that some respondents were not interested in answering the questionnaires since it was as if it was none of their business and some wanted to be given some money as a way of interesting them to give answers. But with the help of the church leaders, the researcher was able to explain to them how the research is not for business purposes but purely academic and they cooperated.

Money was needed to facilitate the researcher during the study. The researcher had to borrow money from relatives and friends in order to facilitate him during this research study.

Some respondents hide information from the researcher because of fear of being sanctioned for the information they are giving. The researcher presented an introductory letter to the respondents and informs them that this study is for the academic purpose and the result will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality.

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1.8 Theoretical Framework

Theories and models

The psycho-cultural theory of conflict. Psycho-cultural conflict theory emphasizes the role of culture, shared, profound oppositions, the conceptualization of enemies and deep-seated dispositions about human action stemming from earliest developments (M.H.Ross, 1995). The psychological conflict theory postulates that the behavior and beliefs of groups is based on the past where myths, the origins of different groups, the nature of their relationships and their place in the social structure are presented.

Psycho-cultural conflict theory emphasizes the role of culture, shared profound “we they” oppositions, how enemies are conceptualized, the deep-seated dispositions about human actions that stems from earliest developments. According to this theory communities that feel discriminated against or deprived of satisfaction of their basic human needs on the basis of their communal identity will develop conflictual tendencies. They will strive for the physical security, political and economic participation as well as recognition and protection of their identity.

The theory recognizes the role of identity because it is important in the escalation, duration and intensity of the conflict. Identity forms an important aspect in the evolution of psychological processes that ultimately creates psycho-cultural dispositions that cause ethnic groups to enter into violent interactions.

According to the theory, practitioners and peace builders should be involved in unearthing the individual perceptions and behavior in an environment of discrimination. By so doing, it aims at altering the mind set and embracing diversity of cultural differences. Ethnic conflicts as a whole is not a linear process but dynamic which cover a long period of time escalate, explode, de- escalate, and re-escalate.

The above concepts revealed that division starts from a few member of the church and escalates to other members of the church and also to other churches. The theoretical concepts further revealed how church politics and division can be minimized among the Leaders of Assemblies of God Ikwerre District and Nigeria at large.

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1.9 Definition of terms

Politics is an activities aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power within an organization.

Church Politics is the agitation for power, position, or status by a person of groups of person sharing the same goal in a church.

Christians are the follower of Jesus Christ. They believe that Jesus Christ is he Messiah, sent by God.

Churches are public worship of God or a religious service in such a building.

Divisionism is a fight, battle, struggle, especially prolonged struggle; strive between people or groups.

Cause is a person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon or condition.

Effect refers to a physical force like a collision, an influence (bad role model or a hero) or a strong effect.

Evangelism refers to the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or person witness.



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