This study examines poor performance in evangelism among churches in Nigeria. Christianity is communicated in words and action. Therefore, the gospel of the Kingdom of God must be preached to those who do not know it, and the doctrinal foundation, history and ethics of the Christian church must be passed on for posterity sake. This must be done through evangelism. The design adopted for the study is the descriptive survey research design, Stratified random sampling technique was used to select twelve churches in the study area, four orthodox and eight Pentecostal. The findings of the study shows that Christ’s earnest expectation from the church is to save every wandering lost soul, “go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house be filled (Luke 14:23b). This implies that Christianity without evangelism is a dead faith. God expects us to love Him and our neighbor as ourselves by sharing the redemptive words of Christ with sinners. The church therefore honors God by reaching out to every unsaved soul through evangelism and by loving them as Christ loves the church. God does not need our evangelism to the world as a price of our salvation, but he needs them to secure the wellbeing of His creation just as we were once saved. We are His ambassadors. The early believers also give us examples of a good evangelism through sharing of things they have with one another. The gospel did not come from our mind, but originated in God’s heart. The church must also meet the unsaved souls with actions motivated by and based on the will of God. The study concludes that the Christian churches today have a lot to do in reconciling the world to Christ.
1.1 Background to the Study
There is great joy in heaven over one lost soul that is saved here on earth, the church of God owe Christ the duty of reconciliation. For this reason was the son of God sent down to reconcile man back to God, in that while we yet sinners Christ died for our sins. After Christ’s resurrection he choose us (the church) to become the channel of reconciliation between the world and God as clearly stated in his word “ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you (the church), and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruits and that your fruits should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the father in my name he may give you” (John 15: 16kjv).
From the above scripture it can be deduce that a church without evangelism cannot grow and can never receive answered prayers from God on a regular basis, unlike a church that is always on the go for Christ. Poor performance in the aspect of evangelism among churches today have wasted the power of God vested on the apostle at Pentecost, for it is written “But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8 kjv).
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he commanded, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20 NIV). This verse contains an important mission the church should pursue in the world. Concerning this point, Rod Dempsey claims that “the church exists to win people to Christ, help them grow in their faith and then send them out to participate in the mission of winning the entire world. The process of growing them in their faith and sending them is called discipleship, and it is God’s will for every church” (Rod Dempsey, 2008).
The bible state it clear that whosoever win soul is wise, and that such a man shall shine like the brightness of the stars. This shows the importance that God place on the soul of man he created in his own image, no longer his long patience that none of his creature should perish in hell. In Christ message it was shown, the principles, doctrine, manner, character of what is expected of his church, then, now and future (i.e end time). His teaching in the mountain, and plain, during his earthly ministries was directly invitees, expectation of him, from his church, them, now and future, (End time) and what and how he wanted to reconcile sinners to the father.
God’s biggest hope is to save the unbelievers in the world. He wants all people to be saved and come to know the truth (1Tim. 2:3-4). He uses His church to accomplish the hope. This means that all works the church does should be carried out centering around evangelism. Many modern churches, however, have used evangelism as a means of church growth, and as a result of that they have failed. Evangelism should not be considered as a one-time event that merely increases the number of people who attend the church, but as an entire process that wins people and makes disciples (Wagner, 1984). The heart of being a purpose driven church is to focus on growing individuals spiritually with a process instead of trying to grow a church with programs. For a church‟s growth to be healthy, balanced, and consistent, the church should map out a strategy for developing disciples of Jesus and adhere to it (Rick Warren, 1195). It is not easy for people to move from being inactive or unreached to being active and committed disciples of Jesus Christ. For doing this, an effective evangelistic strategy consisting of several stages is required (Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, 2007). The mission statement of a church generally consists of five purposes: worship, evangelism, fellowship, ministry, and discipleship (David Wheeler, 2008). Evangelism is usually considered as a separate area from the others. For example, people think that even if discipleship is not working well, evangelism can be successful regardless of the failure of discipleship. However, evangelism should not be treated only as a free-standing program but as one of the closely-knit ministries of the church. Evangelism should not function as a mere section of God‟s whole strategy for a church, but it should be the engine that drives motivation and direction for each aspect of the congregation‟s productivity (Jonathan Falwell, 2008).
Evangelism should be a principle, central axis in accomplishing God‟s will by churches, ruling over other aspects of the purpose of a church. There are many Christian denominations in Nigeria. Many unbelievers go to church because they are lonely and need relationships in the various communities. Unfortunately, however, most of the churches have few proper strategies for evangelism. Though the churches sometimes succeed in drawing unbelievers from outside their church through an evangelistic event, they do not have the next step that makes them disciples. There are two reasons for this. One is that the churches do not have passion for and an interest in their regeneration as much as in drawing them into their church. The other reason is that they are satisfied with just those attending their church. Forgetting the other aspect of Christ word, and that your fruits may abide or remain in the faith (John 15:16b). As a result, those who become new members of the church may remain unbelievers inside the church for a long time, and a conflict for hegemony between the unbelievers and the existing members may arise. In other words, if the existing people are not involved in evangelizing the unbelievers who attend regularly, the church may experience difficulty in the aspect of evangelism.
1.2 The Statement of Problem
The church currently needs growth in both quality and quantity through an effective strategy of evangelism by churches in Nigeria. The current level of chaos and homicides in the country has nothing good to write of. Daily, our society and the media is inundated with alarming and scaring news such as “herdsmen attack Benue state leaving 500 persons missing”, “19 people killed by Fulani herdsmen in Jos village attack” (Fulani Herdsmen Archives, Information Nigeria, www.informationng.com). More worrisome is the ethno-religious dimension of the conflict. All these problems call to question the role of the Church in still contributing to the provision of needed succor in these problem areas. In view of these problems and issues, the big question is the relevance of the Church in the present situation. Since relevance is an important feature of any meaningful phenomenon, event or institution, especially in the sphere of human life, the Church’s role in the solution of problems in the 21st century Nigerian society may be definitive in the justification of its sensitization through evangelism among the Nigerian people. Moving from the great signs of vitality and great contributions of the Church to community development since the advent of the early missionaries to Eastern Nigerian, this present study will look at the role of the Church in evangelizing Nigeria to Christ and set how it can help address religious and political crises through evangelism. Thus the topic “poor performance in evangelism among churches in Nigeria”.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The primary purpose for this study is to examine poor performance in evangelism among churches in Nigeria; the study investigates the following sub objectives:
- To examine the role of the church in evangelizing the world to Christ.
- To examine the challenges facing the church missionaries in spreading the gospel of Christ in some part of the country.
- To find out the major causes of poor level of evangelism among churches in Nigeria.
- To develop a strategy of evangelism and apply it to every local church in Nigeria.
- To proffer last solutions to the challenges of proliferation of churches in Nigeria without the vision and mission of Christ.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions will guide the study:
- The following questions will guide the study:
- What is level of Evangelism Performance by Orthodox churches in Lagos State Metropolis?
- What is level of Evangelism Performance by Pentecostal churches in Lagos State Metropolis?
- What is the Comparative Evangelism Performance level between Orthodox and Pentecostal churches?
- Has the Church played her major role of reconciling the world to God?
- Has the Nigerian church been active on the go for God in the 21st century as compared to the early missionaries?
- What are the major causes of poor performance in evangelism among churches in the 21st century?
- To what extent has the Church been relevant in following up new converts to guarantee their salvation?
- To what extent has the church contributed in the aspect of love, caring, and giving to the needy which is another means of evangelism?
1.5 Statement of Hypothesis
H0: The Church has played her major role of reconciling the world to Christ.
H1: The Church has not played her major role of reconciling the world to Christ.
H0: The church has not contributed in the aspect of love, caring, and giving to the needy which is another means of evangelism
H2: The church has not contributed in the aspect of love, caring, and giving to the needy which is another means of evangelism
1.6 Significance of the Study
The researcher intends to let the readers understand and know all that is needed to be known about poor performance in evangelism among churches so that the church will pummel their efforts for evangelism, by this, they will reminded of Jesus statement to Peter “upon this mountain will I build my church and the gate of Hell shall not prevail”.
The findings of this study will be useful to every church general oversea, ministers, church leaders and the general congregation on the role of the church in ensuring that Hell is reduced to increase Heaven’s population. 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. It will provide valuable insights into existing relationship between the church and Christian in sharing the message of love. It will bring to the fore the prominent roles the missionaries have been playing in evangelizing the world since independence. It will add to existing knowledge and equally serve as a benchmark for further studies.
1.7 Research Methodology
The researcher will not base his conclusion on self-belief or to be subjective on the issue, the researcher shall consult books that have been written on the research topic, he will likewise visit other researcher’s work on anything that is having to do with the research topic, library and works online shall be visited, finally, some notable Gospel church leaders shall be interviewed in order to have a balance and decisive conclusion on the research work.
1.8 Scope / Limitation of the Study
Since the research work is not limited to a particular church, the researcher shall channel his focus to most orthodox and Pentecostal churches in Lagos state metropolis; and shall strictly consult those in authority on the research topic in order to have a balance and decisive outcome, not being subjective.
The time frame within which this work is to be completed is somehow short and not enough, so it cannot be possible for the researcher to access all the effect of poor performance in evangelism and causes of proliferation of churches in Lagos state metropolis. It was envisaged that Clerics who ought to be good source of material for the research may likewise not cooperate with the researcher due to differences in belief as stated earlier. But serious effort will be made to overcome these problems so that the final outcome of this work will not lack any shortcoming.
1.9 Operational Definition of Terms
In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Poor performance in this study is defined as the point where performance or expectations falls below the required standard.
Proliferation of churches
This is defined as the rapid increase in the number or amount of churches.
A church or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services.
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.
A pastor is an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. A pastor also gives advice and counsel to people from the community or congregation. It is derived from the Latin word pastor, meaning shepherd. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, the term may be abbreviated to “Pr” or “Ptr” or “Ps”.
The early church in this study shows the picture of the type of church succeeded Jesus Christ ministries (the church administered by the Apostles of Jesus Christ) is the church borne on the cross and grew up after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost.
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Arias, Mortimer. Announcing the Reign of God: Evangelization and the Subversive Memory of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.
Armstrong, Richard Stoll. Service Evangelism. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1979.
Banister, Doug. The Word and Power Church. Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1999.
Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2004…Ecclesiology: On the Divine Institution of the Three-fold Ministry. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2007.
Biederwolf, William E. Evangelism: Its Justification, Its Operation and Its Value. New York: Revell, 1921
Bloesch, Donald G. The Reform of the Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.