THE IMPACT OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES ON CHURCH GROWTH
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The study was carried out to examine the impact of Christian missionaries on church growth with a particular reference to Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel). To achieve this objective, three research questions were stated to guide the study. The data was collected from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data were collected with the help of a well-structured questionnaire of two sections administered to the respondents. The collected data were analyzed with tables and simple percentages (descriptive statistics) to analyze the research questions. The study reveals that missions has neglect of missionary activities in the development of rural churches; there are challenges facing missions in Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Plateau State and there are solutions to the challenges facing missions in Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Plateau State. The study concluded with some recommendations that the Church in urban areas should pay more attention to churches in rural areas by going for evangelism regularly.
1.1 Background to the Study
A Christian mission is an organized effort for the propagation of the Christian faith. Missions involve sending individuals and groups across boundaries, most commonly geographical boundaries, to carry on evangelism or other activities, such as educational or hospital work. “Mission” is the divine activity of sending intermediaries whether supernatural or human to speak or do God’s will so that God’s purposes for judgment or redemption which God sends his people into the world to do. The word “mission” is properly a comprehensive word, embracing everything are furthered (Carter, 2009).
Mission is the heart beat of God and therefore it is the task of the church to be fully involved in it because the local church is God’s agent for mission. The task of mission is a great one and the Local church need to understand it in order to be focused and responsible in the way She encourage or take part in it.
God has commissioned the Local church to reach nations with the gospel, and to ensure that God’s purpose to be realized – of drawing to himself those from every tribe, tongue, nation and people and the Church must fully be awake to the call and not be negligent of it. God has no need to use ‘means’ in the work of evangelizing the world. That is to say, he could, if he chose, speak directly to people to tell them the gospel himself. However, usually, God does use means – of the Local Church, Christians who have heard the gospel, believed it, put their faith in Jesus Christ and who then go on to tell the gospel to others.
God has laid the responsibility of mission on his people (the Local Church), and specifically on the local church, the body of Christ. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus gives his disciples this mammoth task of reaching all the nations of the world. How are they going to do it? The model is set down for us in the book of Acts.
The pattern set out for us, therefore, is one in which local churches send out members they have recognized as gifted by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel – supporting them materially and in prayer, recognizing churches established in other places as their brethren, and cooperating together with them in the missionary task.
Thus the aim of mission is to see more churches established and biblically equipped. This is what Paul did as he went to Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica – in each place a church was established, taught, and elders were appointed to care for the flock. Many of the New Testament letters were written on the mission field to churches established by mission.
The work of mission should be church-based and church-focused at both ends. A local church should do the sending of missionaries and a newly planted local church should be the result (Dairo, 2007).
It has been observed in Nigeria that there are more churches in the cities than rural areas, and specifically the coastal regions where life is usually very difficult. It has also been noted that more pastors prefer to set up their ministries or go for evangelism abroad than stay in their locality to spread the gospel (Cohall and Cooper, 2010). The biblical injunction did not talk about border line for evangelism. What does the scripture say about where to evangelise? Mark 16: 15-16 says: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Matt. 24:14 also says: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
If we must facilitate Jesus’ return, then the focus of most of our churches should also be channeled to the coastal regions of the world where the gospel is still very sparse. This research work is to elucidate the impact of Christian missionaries on church growth using Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The neglect of mission activities in twenty first century by many local churches pose a serious threat to World Evangelization as commanded by Jesus through the Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. This neglect could be could be caused by lack of passion for mission by the church leadership on financial constraints (Cohall, 2010).
The total or partial negligence and neglect of the missionary activities by many Local churches is problem which the researcher aims to address.
Considering the myriads of challenges of evangelism as a result of funding problems for missions with its alarming effects on the growth of the body of Christ and the deficiency in the propagation of the gospel in reaching the unreached. In addition, having observed the deficiency and slackness in the propagation of the gospel due to some sagas in ethics of the missionaries and funding role, this study proffered viable solutions to curb this menace that hinders the propagation of the gospel missions today (Carter, 2009).
The body of Christ, which is so much concentrated in the cities and urban centres, seem to be unaware of the great potential for souls in the coastal regions. As a result, many of the souls there, for which Christ died, are inundated with their myriads of fetish beliefs and dying daily without the true gospel. Many missionaries in these fields are abandoning their duty posts by the day, and many churches closing down due to the multiple challenges they face. In the light of all these challenges, this research will encourage would be workers to the coastal regions not to abandon their aspirations along the way, encourage sending churches to get dogged in their mission and finally provide simple models to a successful coastal gospel mission (Dairo, 2004).
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine the impact of Christian missionaries on church growth with a particular reference to Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel). The specific objectives include the following
- To determine whether missions neglect of missionary activities in the development of rural churches.
- To determine the challenges facing missions in Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Plateau State.
- To proffer solutions to the challenges facing missions in Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Plateau State.
1.4 Research Questions
- Are missions neglect of missionary activities in the development of rural churches?
- Are there any challenges facing missions in Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Plateau State?
- Are there any solutions to the challenges facing missions in Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Plateau State?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The relevance of this study include the following:
- The research work will be an immense blessing to Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) on the involvement in the development of rural churches in Plateau State.
- Pastors, leaders, and workers will know that their level of involvement in missionary activities has consequential effect on the church. Hence, for the church to growth there is a great need for them to improve on themselves.
- Pastors, leaders, worker, and missionaries will appreciate the significant of participating in mission work on church growth and will definitely place great value on it.
- This research work will serve as a reference material for future researcher. It will provide insight on the missionary calling of the Local Churches.
- The research will also contribute to knowledge. Scholars have made several researches in different field of study which contributed knowledge on the field study, on the same vein this research is a contribution to knowledge.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
There is no study undertaken by a researcher that is perfect. The imperfection of any research is always due to some factors negatively affecting a researcher in the course of carrying out research. Therefore, time constraint has shown no mercy to the research. The limited time has to be shared among many alternative uses, which includes reading, attending lectures and writing of this research, also distance and its attendant costs of travelling to obtain information which may enhance the writing of this study was a major limitation.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Mission: This is a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work.
Missionary: A person actively engaged in a mission, particularly one sent by a church to carry the gospel to those who have not heard the message of Jesus Christ. Directed by the so-called Great Commission of Jesus (Mt 28:19–20), missionaries may serve as evangelists, church planters, educators, medical doctors or in a variety of other capacities, but they are sent primarily to share the gospel with those who are at a cultural distance from their own background.
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