Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. He explains how the Nigerian church has failed to pursue the Great Commission and why.
The mandate of the Great Commission has been abandoned by Nigerian churches; we are no longer interested in advancing the kingdom of Christ to areas where Christ has not been preached. Western missionaries sacrificed their lives to give us the Gospel but we now merchandise it and all our churches are concentrated in cities and towns where offerings and tithes are large. This empire building and money making agenda in our churches have hindered the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.
Our inability to reach the North with the Gospel and love of Christ is responsible for insurgency and terrorism in our country. While we were busy with selfish and prosperity messages in our churches and fellowships, the enemy went ahead of us with AK-47 and bombs and equipped our prospective target group with the instruction to wipe away Christianity from Nigeria. The Church today is now a sitting Church instead of a going Church. The true greatness of any church should not be measured by how many it seats but by how many it sends.
We have abandoned the going agenda and now engrossed so much with increasing the seating capacity of our churches. According to Roland Allen, missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual belief nor out of theological argument but out of love. Lack of love is responsible for this criminal negligence. We have monopolized Jesus for so long; let us start sharing His love, mercy and saving power with others. He did not die to save us alone; he died to save all, including terrorists. In Mathew 24:14 Jesus said that He will not come to take the saints until the Gospel is preached to all nations of the world. I strongly believe that no one has the right to hear the Gospel twice while there remains someone who has not heard it once no matter the race, tribe or tongue.
The knowledge of Jesus has saturated the southern part of Nigeria while the northerners are Gospel-starved. The place of electronic media in evangelism cannot be denied but many churches and men of God have been deceived by the devil to replace the going agenda with the broadcasting agenda when the Word of God is preached on television and radio. Who do we really want to reach out to? Who are our target groups? Majority of the unreached in Africa continent do not have access to electronic media and the few that do, do not have any business with Christian programs and networks. The only veritable tool to be utilized in reaching the unreached is GO YE. Until we start going or sending missionaries to reach the unreached, the Great Commission remains an abandoned project.
It might interest you to note that about 64 million Nigerians have not heard about Jesus and we are comfortably building human kingdoms and empires. Churches have gone commercial. Gospels are now for sale. Multibillion properties are developed for sale. Banks, hotels, schools and universities are built to make money for the church and nothing is invested to reach the unreached. How many mission schools and hospitals do we still have in Nigeria? The bitter truth is that many of Nigerian pastors went through mission schools constructed and managed by Western missionaries with minimal payment or no school fees at all. Why can’t we extend this kind gesture to others and attract them to the saving power of Christ? Mission is not a ministry of choices for a few hyperactive Christians in the Church. Mission is the purpose of the Church and the reason for the existence of every Christian.
We have two options to the Kingdom tension in Nigeria: To aggressively pursue the mandate of the Great Commission and push the Gospel further North, or to remain in our comfort zones and show indifference attitude to the salvation of over 64 million Nigerians who are waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus. Whichever choice we make, there is a reward. We are supposed to go back to the drawing board and bring out missiological strategies aimed at reaching to the dying souls in the world for lack of the saving knowledge of Christ. Churches should go back to the old time religion and act like the apostles in the book of Acts.
I believe that many churches and pastors are not into mission because the brand of their religion is not worth propagating. How do we preach prosperity to impoverished naked people? It is obvious that seed sowing will never work in such environments because they do not have any offering, seed or tithe to give.
The Gospel is only good news if it gets to the people in time. We are supposed to do God’s business in a hurry because delay is dangerous. For how long will this project remain abandoned?