THE ROLE OF CHURCH LEADERS IN THE GROWTH AND SURVIVAL OF CHURCH
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This study examines the role of church leaders in the growth and survival of the Church in Nigeria. The primary focus of the research is to ascertain the contributions of church leaders to sustainable growths among members of the body of Christ, the study made use of primary data from the information obtained from the distribution of research questionnaire to members of the selected denominations. The research design adopted for this study is cross –sectional survey and descriptive analysis on a randomly selected sample of the different categories of churches (Catholic, Pentecostal and Orthodox). The study made use of a total population of 100. The sample of 40 was considered for the study, the data hypothesis was analyzed using the chi-square method. The study concluded that there must be some kind of organization and leadership in the church or else there will be anarchy and confusion. The study recommends that church leaders should leads by examples, rather than acting or playing Christianity just to justify righteousness.
1.1 Background of the Study
The leadership of different church denominations in Nigeria is in deep crisis. Though contextual factors such as secularization and individualism partly explain the decline of most churches (Gabriel, 1996). The major role of a church leader is to be a ‘bridge builder’; reaching out to all kinds of people in the Christendom through relationships. Leadership is indeed a dynamic reciprocal process of personal influence by which a manager or a leader shapes the attitudes and activities of others towards the achievement or attainment of organizational objectives (Abogunrin, 1986). Even before the modern concepts of leadership came into being, the apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul in the Pastorals lists the qualifications for church leaders to ensure sustainable growth and survival (Dairo, 2007). These have remained the model for ages. For any church leader to steer the ship of the church successfully, these qualities must be imbibed. But contemporary experience in Nigeria has shown a marked departure from this Pauline list of qualifications for church leaders which has really affected growth and survival of churches. The level of understanding expected from both the leaders and the followers is missing in most cases. This often results in crises within “the body of Christ”.
There are some common features in various definitions of leadership. It will be presumptuous for anyone to attempt a definition that will satisfy the populace especially regarding church leadership. Leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose; and the effectiveness of leaders must be judged not by press clippings but by actual social change, measured by intent and by satisfaction of human needs and expectations which on the long term will be visible on the church growth and development.
Oluwasegun (2005) defines leadership as the ability to gain consensus and commitment to common objectives beyond organizational requirements which are attained with experience or contribution and satisfaction on the part of the working group. Leadership could also be defined as the relationship in which one person or the leader influences others to work together willingly on related tasks to attain that which the leader desires. It is a means of direction. Leadership is the ability of management to induce the subordinates to work towards a group’s goals with confidence and keenness. It implies that the leader accepts responsibility for the achievement of the group objectives and it is, therefore, essential for the trust and cooperation from both sides to be evidence all the time (Oluwasegun, 2005). Leadership is an art of getting things done. It can be learnt, improved, developed and perfected. It is the key process of influence and the process always includes a number of key components such as leader and followers, they interact in situations and means of influence which emerge from the leader and from the followers, based on their value system and goals which the leader and the followers seek to achieve (Dairo, 2004).
With respect to church leadership, it implies that the church leader gives direction, motivates, reprimands and develops a set objective along with his group and resolves individual or group needs within the church. This is perceived as the only way towards the church growth and survival. In the New Testament it was more often used as Christological title for the exalted Jesus. The results of semasiological and lexicographical investigation of secular Greek indicate an extremely polyvalent spectrum of meaning for the word “church leader”, the basis being he who is the first, who stands at the head of, who leads.
According to the New Testament, the terms “bishop,” “pastor,” and “elder” are synonymous. Bishop means “overseer,” and the elders had the responsibility of overseeing the work of the church (Acts 20:17,28; 1Pet 5:1-3). “Elder” is the translation of the Greek word presbytes, which means “an old man.” Paul used the word presbytery in (1Tim 4:14), referring not to a denomination, but to the “eldership” of the assembly that ordained Timothy. Elders and bishops (two names for the same office, (Titus 1:5,7) were mature people with spiritual wisdom and experience to ensure the survival of the church of God. Also, “pastor” means “shepherd,” one who leads and cares for the flock of God (Vine, 1996:67). The leader should understand the people in terms of their attitudes, interests and their needs. This factor emphasizes the importance of communication skills of the leader to the subordinates, understanding who they are, their position on the issues, and how best to communicate with and influence them (Pfeffer, 1981; 1992; 1993).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Lack of proper and efficient leadership seems to have resulted in many crises, especially in the northern and southern part of Nigeria. According to Dairo (2008), many Churches in Nigeria are characterized with false teaching, preconceived ideas and human-formed regulations which have too often undermined the Holy Spirit’s specification and has militated greatly against church growth and survival. According to Apostle Paul, church leader must be kind of man that can carry the followers along. All church leaders may not possess these qualities in the same measure but a leader must have these quality attributes to a degree that is noticeable in his life to ensure sustainable growth. If a man is known to be harsh instead of being gentle, intemperate instead of being temperate, disgraceful instead of being respectable, he has disqualified himself (Bible Org. 2004). The work of church leadership is a noble task. Such an office needs the right kind of people to serve. Accumulation of material wealth, by capitalizing on the “gross ignorance” of the people about the teaching of the Bible on wealth by church leaders as also limited growth and survival of many churches because of the increased awareness of these dubious strategies. However, this present study is examining the role of church leaders in the growth and survival of the church.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this study is to examine the role of church leaders in the growth and survival of the Church. The researcher intends to discuss the following sub objectives;
- To examine the role of church leaders in the growth and survival of a church.
- To identify the functions and duties of church leaders in a church.
- To identify the other factors militating against church growth and survival.
- To proffer lasting solutions to the challenges facing church growth in Nigeria.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to guide the study;
- Do church leaders have a major role in the growth and survival of the church?
- Are church leaders ordained by God to look into the growth of the church?
- Is there any significant relationship between church leaders and the growth and survival of Christian families?
- Are church’s leaders following the biblical principle of servant hood?
- Is there a difference between leadership in the church and leadership in other spheres of society?
- What are the other factors militating against church growth and survival?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The following research hypotheses will be tested in the course of the study:
H0: Church leaders do not have a role in church growth and survival.
H1: Church leaders do have a role in church growth and survival.
H0: Church leaders are not ordained by God to look into the growth of the church.
H2: Church leaders are ordained by God to look into the growth of the church.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The following are the significance of this study:
Findings from this study will educate the church authorities and the general public in Nigeria on what the church leaders need to do or incorporate into the system to ensure growth and survival. It will provide valuable insights into existing relationship between the church leaders and the growth of Christian families in our rural communities. 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 will cover the activities of churches in Nigeria with special focus on the roles and duties of the church leaders in the growth and survival of Christian families in Kaduna State. There were some constraint that tends to hinder the flow of this study, such limitations include:
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.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Leaders: Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.
Leadership: Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations.
Church leaders: Church leaders include the following set of leaders in church: Senior Pastors, Worship Leaders, Youth Leaders, Outreach Leaders, and Children’s Ministry Leaders, Small Group Leaders.
Growth: growth is defined as the process of increasing in size or something that has grown or is growing.
Christian: Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, who’s coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.
Church: 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.