Archive for June, 2021

Incorporate Church

June 10th, 2021

A non-profit association is an incorporated association run with the primary purpose other than to make profit. The not-for-profit associations fall into three categories. Educational institutions and charitable associations for public benefit, trusts for the mutual benefit of the members and religious establishments like churches, religious beneficial programs and religious education. Churches are theological institutions with Jesus Christ as the head. Churches exist for the worship of God. Other activities include proselytizing, i.e. spreading the word of God to others and other charitable works. Churches have many denominations like Catholics, Protestants, etc.

By the definition of corporation as a legal entity, churches can also be incorporated. The advantages to incorporate a church are tax exemption status under IRS code section 501(c) (3); thus, the donations and property transferal are exempted. Also, the limited liability clause protects the officers, in this case, the priests and other members of the church committee. Other fringe benefits include lower postal rates on bulk mail and the options for employees to join federal subsidized job training and work study programs.

The church can be incorporated by filing the articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. Most states require at least three directors. Some allow less than three when there are less than three members, and other states require only one director. To claim tax exemption, IRS form 1023 must be filed within 15 months from the date of filing the articles of incorporation.

Since churches are concerned with theological issues, the fact that the incorporated church is a creation of the state immediately clashes with the theological proposition that God is the head of the church. Hence, many people are against the incorporation of church. Since the independence of the United States, incorporation of churches has always been contentious. In fact in 1811, President Madison vetoed a bill to incorporate churches. Since then, the state of Virginia doesn’t allow churches to be incorporated.

The Role of Church in Nigeria at 50

June 10th, 2021

Though Nigeria celebrates her 50 years of independence from colonial rule, it is important that we take an objective and impartial look at the role of the church during those years.

Before we can truly assess the impact of the church in our nation, we need to first look at the biblical purpose of the church in every nation.The purpose of the church is to shine as light and sweeten as salt in any nation. The church is to bring godly change, turn-around and transformation to every people and tribe. The church is to call people back to God from the way of sin, evil, ungodliness and wickedness. The church is to be an example of godly living, sobriety, moderation and sacrificial lifestyle. The purpose of the church in every nation is to bring quiet change, transformation to people in every community through precept and conducts.

Judging by what is seen above, how then has the church fared in Nigeria in the last 50 years?

The church has been in Nigeria before independence in 1960. From records available, the pre-independence church fared much better in terms of spiritual quality and impact. The revival under Joseph Ayo Babalola in 1930, especially in Southwest Nigeria really helped the spread of the true gospel. Idol worship, witchcraft and occultist practices were largely beaten back and the light of the gospel shined into many hearts. From the Anglican Church to Baptist, to gospel and apostolic churches, it was revival of true conversion and serving the Lord. Of course, there were persecutions of the believers by then, but it did not stop the spread of the gospel. Many came to know the Lord and the few believers then were respected for their godly living and good citizenship of the fledging country.

As there was independence in 1960, the church was still on individual Christian basis. She was just coming up. Most of the leaders, if not all, of the nation do not know Jesus in an intimate way. The gospel was for the poor and downtrodden. However, God was working and the Scripture Union revival broke out in the 60′s, largely in southeast Nigeria. Many university students came to know the Lord. Now, this revival was an answer to the prayers of many poorly educated church leaders then that God will raise educated and young people to spread the gospel of Christ in our nation. God answered through the revival of Scripture Union in our tertiary institutions.

So many of young university students got truly saved and started ministries, churches and Christian organizations that have gone to win many people unto the Lord. In the 70′s to early 80′s, the effect of this move of God was still very much around. Yes, you don’t find many committed Christians in government but the people really respected the church. During this period, church leaders started to speak up to the nation. Steadily and gradually, the church started to make inroads into many areas in Nigeria, people were being impacted and the lifestyle of Christians started drawing people to the faith. Companies would come to church, requesting for workers because they realized that they are honest, hardworking and sincere. Though largely poor and unheard, yet the church was respected, honoured and growing among the populace. Of course, there were fake churches and preachers then but they were few and largely not followed, except one or two.

From early eighties, the church started welcoming and embracing the prosperity message. Preachers started claiming that riches, wealth and material blessings are for the children of God in this age. While not totally unscriptural, yet the message was taken to the extreme until materialism became the order of the day. Big preachers, big names, titles and big pockets took over and the spiritual impact of the church took a serious dive. Yes, crowds came to the church. Big church buildings were erected and international preachers came regularly to the country, yet the spiritual impact was going down every day. Yes, people in the government started professing faith in Christ, we even had a ‘Christian’ president, governors, senators and high ranking government officials, yet the church has not made the true spiritual impact upon the nation in the last 35 years, the way she did in the first 25 years of the life of this nation. The prosperity message only brought forth individually rich preachers but pauperized people.

Inaddition, you can see the carcasses of churches and preachers who were once vibrant and lively but who today are empty and struggling to say afloat. There are too many once growing and crowd pulling churches and preachers in our nation but who today are experiencing downward spiral and have fallen from grace to grass due to scandals and deviation from godly standards.