As the Christmas and New Year festive season gradually set in, many religious organisations are also gearing up with conventions and other year-end activities.
However, of great concern is the adoption or adaptation of secular music in Christendom.
These are subtle practices often presented in forms of praise and worship. Also, in incorporating African modes of worship, many have been carried away with the secular nature of some music and artistes.
In 2014, a certain Korede Bello, released a hit song titled “Godwin” that took over the Nigerian airwave few years back and became like a national anthem to many music lovers with a popular line that says: “I don get alert, Godwin.”
It was so popular then that preachers were using it on the pulpit and it didn’t matter to many if it was secular music or not. Or, I should say that nobody cares as long as it’s ‘Godwin’.
In other words, many Christians today would sing and jam to any lyrics as long as it has ‘God’ in it.
Same way the popular line “Aanu mo ri gba, Ade ori Okin” by Ayinde Wasiu (K1) in his latest hit song ‘Ade ori Okin’ also speaks to the level at which the street now predicts or dictates to the church.
Another funny but subtle incursion of secular music into Christendom is the term ‘African praise and worship’.
While the promoters of African praise and worship look deeply at adapting African traditional musical instruments into praise and worship, many have deviated from that into adopting any language (slang) for praise and worship.
Again, another popular line from Korede Bello in 2014, was “Korede Bello; Omo olope”. Today, it’s commonplace to find people within the church circle borrowing that ‘slang’.
Wole Olarinde, publisher, Christian Benefits Magazine, told BusinessDay that it is a manifestation of the end-time spirit that the scriptures called apostasy; a departure from the faith.
“It is also part of the end-time spirit that the scriptures call the seductive spirit that Satan will unleash on the people who do not retain the knowledge of God in their mind; thereby giving themselves reprobate minds to do those things that are not convenient,” he said.
According to Olarinde, the scripture talks about people having itching ears, and having for themselves teachers that will give them what they like or want against what God likes or wants.
“This is also the end-time seductive spirit to deceive people; even the very elect, according to the scriptures. This is the end-time gospel of come the way you are, orchestrated by Satan to pollute and compromise the Church of Christ,” he said.
However, in the spirit of winning them all, a branch of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) recently extended an invitation to Pasuma and Potable, which got the Nigerian social media space agog about the calibre of musicians that made their way into the church.
Paul, in one of his epistles disclosed that when he was in Rome, he behaved like the Romans; and when in Corinth, he behaved like the Corinthians so that he can by all means win some.
While this may be true about the soul-winning strategy adopted by churches and preachers to reach people outside, it is also a topic of debate in Christendom as to what is the right strategy in reaching more souls.
Hence, it was not surprising that a branch of the CCC that invited Fuji singer, Pasuma, and street-hop artiste, Portable, to its praise night event came under immense fire by the public for inviting the artists.
The flyer for the event was posted on the church’s Facebook page on Wednesday, and netizens took to the comment section to slam the church for inviting secular artistes to its event.
However, the leadership of the CCC was swift in condemning the act, which has generated and attracted some level of negativity to the church.
“It depends on the programme of the church. It’s not every programme that is held in the church that is spiritual; some people can have concerts where maybe the aim is to invite both the saved and the unsaved,” Joseph Ojo, the presiding Archbishop of Christ’s Kingdom Church (CKC) Lagos told BusinessDay.
According to him, some churches invite secular musicians as a strategy to reach out to the unsaved within the society. “To attract the unsaved, they can maybe bring somebody like that, and in the process you preach the gospel and the people are saved,” Ojo said.
Gbenga Osinaike, publisher of ChurchTimes, a Christian publication, said that it is difficult to legislate to what extent people can or should praise or worship God.
“I think one cannot define the kind of dance steps that best suits worship; it depends on the heart of the worshipper. King David danced and his wife was not happy with him; but God was happy,” he said
However, in reaction to some of the unwholesome practices by some preachers, Osinaike said that some preachers have gone overboard with actions, which in turn questions their intent
“I think this is wrong and going too far. A pastor does not even have to touch anybody before the person is healed. But then, spiritual things can’t be put in a box. Whatever the case is, I think it’s wrong for pastors to touch the opposite sex in sensitive parts in the name of prayer or deliverance,” he said.
However, in the name of populating the gospel and winning souls, many churches have gone overboard inviting the spirit of ‘tungba’ and ‘alujo’ to supplement praise and worship.
What then is praise and worship?
According to Wikipedia, praise and worship is a genre of Christian music used in contemporary worship. This form of music has developed over the last 60 years and is stylistically similar to popular music.
It has become a common genre of music sung in many churches, particularly in charismatic or non-denominational Protestant churches.
“The truth of the matter is that I don’t know all these musicians that are not in the church; I don’t even know those who are into gospel music not to talk of those who are in secular music.
“I don’t listen to them and don’t really know many of them; so if these people were not listening to them like me, there would be no attraction.
“It shows that these leaders have one foot in the church (spiritual) and one foot in the secular. Birds of the same feather flock together – by their fruits we shall know them,” Ojo said.
According to him, making jokes at the altar or with the pastors should not be something taken lightly in Christendom. “If you do that in the mosque they will cut your head off,” Ojo said.
However, in deepening social communication in the church to accommodate all forms of worshiper, Ojo said: “We are not to call people to the church to enjoy themselves – no, we enjoy Jesus. We don’t follow the crowd to do things”.
Similarly, Emmanuel Badejo, Catholic bishop of Oyo, said that the church is concerned that those who use the media should understand the important role it plays in social communication.
Badejo, who is the president of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), said it’s a moment to tell how much the church has journeyed together, which is an opportunity for the church to carry out its own evaluation.
The publisher of ChurchTimes said further that it is wrong to trivialise the place of worship and the Holy Book. According to him, bringing comedians who do not know God to the church is messing up with the grace of God. “But there is a way comedy can be used to draw people to God,” Osinaike said.
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks,” Ilesanmi said quoting Ephesians 5:3-4.
Ilesanmi said further that whatever success or gains achieved through this sacrilege is an unacceptable sacrifice. “Jesting is expressly mentioned here as condemnable,” he said.
Any place for decency in today’s church?
Babatope Ilesanmi, the chairman of the lil Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Ikeja province, told BusinessDay that the satanic modifications in dance steps to stylishly reveal or flaunt their private seductively, or male and female coiling around each other is alien to the Church of Jesus.
He said that such an act is indecent, and highly condemnable. According to him, the Bible enjoins believers in 1 Corinthians 14:40 that, “Let all things be done decently and in order”.
But, in regard to the outward presentation of individuals in the church and its application to Christendom in general, Osinaike said, “the way a person dresses when in church or out of church reveals the heart of the person”.
Speaking further, he said that the church is not a family business; rather it is about the souls of men. “Any succession plan that is not from God will drive the church to its grave,” Osinaike said.
According to Ilesanmi, God hates nude dressing and has divinely warned His people about such acts. He said that nude dressing is a measure of insanity. “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
“And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach,” Ilesanmi said, quoting the Bible in Exodus 28:42.
However, Olarinde said that the recent happenings in the church are manifestation of the end-time departure from the faith and the Bible standard to conform to the world standard.
“All these are parts of the End time prophecies in the scriptures, calling our attention, particularly, we believers to the preparation for the coming of the Lord lest we are caught unaware,” he said.
According to Ilesanmi, the Bible in 2 Samuel 6:14-23 under which many hide to dance abnormally is just being misinterpreted. “The Kingly dress in Yoruba has three layers: Agbada, Bubba & Awotele on top of Sokoto. If the Agbada and Buba are off, the king is still covered with the last two.
“Going back to the theology of dancing, Satan didn’t create any dance style. That’s why you hear the song from a Yoruba man that “the dance I used to dance, or ought to dance for smaller deities, Now that am in Christ, I will now dance it for the supreme God,” Ilesanmi said