• Thursday, April 25, 2024
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‘Religious worships becoming very costly in Nigeria’

‘Religious worships becoming very costly in Nigeria’

For many Nigerians, worship is more than just a feeling of the presence of God. Even though worship is personal to each individual worshipper, the act itself is usually led in public or congregations to connect with God.

Generally, Christian faithful are actively involved in their worship as they revere and pay homage to their creator.

The ICM religious poll conducted by the BBC in February, 2004, listed Nigeria as the most religious country in the world. This is because over 90 percent of Nigerians in their answer said they were ready to die for their faith according to the BBC.

These daily outward expressions of religious sentiments among Nigerians are usually portrayed in their mode of worship, and the yawning for true worship among adherent of both faiths especially Christian faithful.

“The frequent religious-related public holidays that have marked our national work-year calendar are to be equaled only by a few other nations. The ubiquitous presence of many Mega Churches dotting our highways all join in singing a unified chorus of affirmation to this continuous religious identity-tag,” Gerald Azike, a Catholic priest, wrote in a November 20, 2013 article published by Sahara Reporters titled, ‘The Nigerian Paradox: A Country In Love With God But Practically Atheistic In Life-Style.’

That paradox has led to the recent concern by a section of the Church who are worried that religious worships are becoming very costly in Nigeria. This was the point Reverend Father Oluoma Chinenye John, also known as Fada Oluoma, head of Catholic Archdiocese in Abuja, made recently when he said: “We have increased the cost of religious worship. How much will I spend if I have to bring Mercy Chinwo here to perform? She could demand ten million naira. So, I’ll have to ask churchgoers for the money so I can pay her”.

According to the Catholic priest, “These are the catastrophes we have introduced into the church; a performer will visit the building to evangelise to 10 or five thousand people, which is a sizeable crowd. I don’t mind paying her; you have to do so since you invited her.”

Today, many religious organisations spend a fortune to get professional singers to perform at their religious programmes. Accordingly, it is argued that winning souls is no longer the target of many churches. Everybody that renders one service or the other in the church nowadays- singing in the choir, orchestra, ushering and moderating sessions (MC) – needs payment.

However, Fada Oluoma is not alone in this as some pastors also share his sentiments and posit that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) should blacklist gospel singers who charge fees for their ministration.

“Any minister of the word or in song that is Mammonic,” Tope Ilesanmi, chairman, PFN, Ikeja Province said. According to him, their spiritual fathers should be advised to call such gospel singers to order.

“It amazes me that the likes of Nathaniel Bassey and Segun Oriyomi (a k.a Omo Arugbo Ojo) do not charge at all. They accept whatever a ministry can afford. I hope there still a few like that,” Ilesanmi said.

Ademola Adepoju, coordinator, First Love Apostolic Outreach, in aligning his thought with Fada Oluoma, said turning the worship of God to a money-making venture is not the best today. According to him, when God created man His purpose is for man to worship Him, which is the same reason God created Satan Ezekiel 28:13- 15 and he became proud and iniquity was found in him and God’s judgment came upon him.

He said further that there are true worshippers that really want to worship God in spirit and in truth. Same ways there are worshippers that are ready to worship God as hirelings, whose goal is their stomach. According to him, the Church is filled with people who worship God for the financial benefits, but posited that he is not against worshippers being appreciated.

“I had an experience where we’re going for an outreach and we budgeted money for instruments and other logistics and to get a guest artist who is now demanding for up to 75 percent of initial budget, we end up not using any guest artist and God manifested Himself; many so call artists claims that they’re needed to pull crowds so they must be paid well, I believe many of them are going the way God has not sent them.

“A programme was held not too long ago that shocked many when the Man of God refuses to collect offerings at an overflowing crowd of worshippers, what a shock, those are true Men of God,” Adepoju said.

However, Charles Shedrack of Church of God Mission International, Port Harcourt, said worship can never be costly because worship is personal. According to him, whether it is done at home or in a congregation, worship is personal.

“23 But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” he said quoting from John 4:23-24.

According to the Reverend, what we have today that makes people say worship is costly is the habit of Christian organisations inviting professional gospel singers who sing songs as a profession and get paid with certain predetermined amounts of money for the services rendered.

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“We must realise that cost is relative and what’s expensive to one may be inexpensive to the other. These music gospel artists charge varying sums for their services and Christian organisations opt for the ones they can afford.

“It is also noteworthy that in every congregation there are worship ministers and Choristers who regularly and daily lead worship for free and those are the real worship leaders in those churches and are treasured,” Shedrack said.

He said further that if any church organisation decides to invite a guest singer from far, there are bills to cover including flight tickets, crew bills, among others. According to him, churches and religious organisations should go for what they can comfortably afford.

“These are bills that the leadership of the church and the members will gladly pick because they desire the gift in the person to join the real worship leaders in the local church in lifting the name of the Lord in worship. So churches go for who they can afford and if it is affordable, you can’t call it expensive,” he said.