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Experience has shown that neglect of the ecumenical imperative in the Christian community in Nigeria is a great handicap for the church to work effectively in the areas of socio-political and economic justice P These two respondents P3 and P20 therefore strongly felt that there was a need for a renewed strengthening of ecumenical ties among churches in Nigeria for the sake of ecclesial and larger societal wellbeing.

In sharp contrast, however, other respondents were of the opinion that Nigerian Christian religious leaders have in fact made important social contributions to Nigerian society in the area of fostering religious dialogue among Christians and other religious traditions such as Islam.

In this regard respondents noted that Christian religious leaders played a vital role in the 'formation of NIREC by the government to foster dialogue and peace between different religions' P17 and by doing so have contributed towards 'making the society peaceful' P For a number of respondents, Christian religious leaders also had to be given credit for the way in which they contributed towards the strengthening of the moral fibre of Nigerian society. In this regard one respondent pertinently referred to 'the instilling of moral values in the members of Nigerian society by church leaders' P5 , whilst others similarly made claims about how Christian religious leaders have served as the conscience of society by 'supporting the nation morally and spiritually' P11 , by acting as 'as architects and preachers of honesty' P5 , and by bringing 'Biblical virtues to bear on the polity' P1.

Yet from another angle some respondents felt strongly about Christian religious leaders' contribution to grassroots economic empowerment.


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Thus for one respondent P6 Christian religious leaders in Nigeria could be associated with 'a variety of projects that are geared towards the promotion of agriculture, self-employment and self-reliance'. However, in as much as the leaders of the mainline churches were known to have been concerned with projects in the missionary era and afterwards, another respondent P11 spoke more decisively about the importance of the newly established churches and their leaders and how they are increasingly 'taking a centre stage in the economic empowerment of their members for the good of society'.

Similarly, another respondent P9 also alluded to this development by referring to a new engagement of Pentecostal churches in social transformation through projects of economic empowerment:. The socio-political and economic participation of the churches in the development of Nigeria was left to the orthodox [mainline] churches. However, the tyranny of the military juntas, since , awoke the Pentecostals to unparalleled activism in those sectors for liberation P9.

However, a significant number of respondents replied that the greatest contribution of church leaders and churches to Nigerian society has been in the field of education. This opinion was expressed by respondents P1, P4, P5, P6, P9, P11, P14, P15, P18, P19, P21 and P22, with respondent P6 arguing more specifically that such engagement by the churches entailed both the 'introduction and growth of formal education through church educational institutions' and respondent P11 commending the churches for establishing universities that today functioned as 'safe havens against On a critical note, however, two respondents P16 and P19 expressed their concern about what they perceived as a trend whereby church-owned educational institutions were increasingly becoming unaffordable to poorer people in Nigeria.

For P16 this had in fact led to the situation where ' t he larger majority [of churches] capitalise on the underdevelopment and poverty to further impoverish the masses' and where, as a result, 'the self-sufficient training of the old church leaders' no longer existed. P19 also alluded to this trend by recommending: 'Establish schools that are affordable to the poor.


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These groups and their activities have not only contributed to insecurity in public educational institutions, but also to a decline in educational standards. Cult members are usually distracted from their studies as they often abandon their studies for militant and criminal activities within and outside the university environment. When this happens, they resort to threatening lecturers to pass them even when they fail the courses they enrol for in the university. In line with what could be learned from our exploration of the literature as discussed in the previous section , a number of respondents P4, P5, P6 and P18 continued by likewise emphasising the crucial role of churches and church leaders in the field of service delivery.

Whilst for one respondent P5 the provision of various forms of education strictly also belonged to this field, another respondent P18 emphasised how 'provision of health care through church-owned health institutions' had to be recognised as 'a prominent area of engagement in the past and in contemporary Nigerian society' P Furthermore, according to respondents P4 and P6, churches also stood out as providers of social services 'through relief and welfare schemes', especially during times of 'inter-communal conflicts, religious riots and natural disasters'.

In this regard this respondent particularly upheld the example of the Save Nigeria Group SNG , which was 'largely a Christian initiative Yet, similar to respondent P9, a number of other respondents P7, P8 and P10 likewise supported the idea that it was important that both the religious leaders and the faithful had to raise their level of protests in favour of social transformation in Nigerian society. Respondent P10 in particular made this point clear by stating:. If honest Christian leaders would arise and form serious pressure groups within and outside the national boundaries, if the leaders appreciate that they are answerable to God for what happens to the country even after they expire, then the Nigerian nation will experience transformation.

Leadership challenges in Christian ministry

If we have leaders who love the country above themselves and their immediate family, then the political and economic change so much desired in Nigeria would come. Finally, one respondent P4 regarded it as important that leadership training and development were being promoted by church leaders through leadership foundations such as Lux Terra. This respondent observed as follows:. Some church leaders are already doing something to solve our problem, which has been leadership. There is a leadership foundation - Lux Terra - being established by Rev.

George Ehusani for the training of future leaders. Synthesising reflection: considering the achievements and prevailing challenges. In this article the two areas of political governance and economic development were identified from the start as central to the challenge of sustainable transformational development in present-day post-military Nigeria. We argued that from Obasanjo's leadership to that of Yar'Adua the political leadership in Nigeria by and large failed to make adequate use of their political power to initiate good leadership and policy-making.

Our evaluation of the NEEDS strategy - which represented the most strategic economic development programme in Nigeria from to - likewise suggested that the economic fortunes of Nigerians were not profoundly transformed. In fact, we argued that Nigerians were facing worse economic conditions in the wake of the reforms brought about by NEEDS. Our contextual analysis led us to reinforce an argument about the causal and redeeming factor of leadership in the achievement of positive social transformation both in Nigerian and in African society at large. We then proceeded towards the main focus of our article, namely to make a first contribution -on the basis of a literature and empirical exploration - towards a reappraisal of the way that the Christian religious leadership in present-day Nigeria is showing new potential as a mobiliser for sustainable transformational development in this society.

Our discussion of the literature and empirical exploration highlighted various areas, forms or modes of engagement that could be taken as relevant to the challenge of sustainable transformational development in present-day Nigerian society. On the basis of this exploration, we now want to close this article with the following synthesising reflection on what we consider as the most important achievements to date by the Christian religious leadership in present-day Nigeria in advancing a sustainable transformational agenda, but also the crucial challenges that this leadership still faces in meeting such an agenda.

Since advocacy surfaced as a common theme both in the literature and empirical exploration, we may conclude that it ranks as potentially and actually one of the more prominent forms of social engagement of the Christian religious leadership in present-day Nigeria. This approach to the social challenges in Nigeria clearly yielded some results in the past and holds the potential to achieve even more in future.

Yet we want to acknowledge the opinions of some respondents in the empirical exploration that there may still be significant scope for improvement in this area. At the same time, we also want to maintain that advocacy is a powerful means through which socio-political and economic challenges may be addressed, and that in this regard the level of advocacy of Christian religious leaders has not yet reached its full potential, particularly when one takes into consideration the numerous challenges Nigerians still face. In addition, the scope of such advocacy should be further broadened to include a genuine promotion of gender justice and the wellbeing of people with disabilities, animals and the environment.

Faith Forum: What challenges does religion face today?

Despite the critical comments from some respondents in the empirical exploration, our exploration importantly suggests that the establishment of the Christian Association of Nigeria CAN by Christian religious leaders was a major move in the right direction and, since the founding of CAN, the churches in Nigeria have kept on forging the path of unity and dialogue. In particular, it may be recalled that the formation of the National Inter-Religious Council NIREC by the Obasanjo administration had been initiated by Christian religious leaders in pursuit of one of the objectives of CAN, namely to promote understanding, peace and unity among the various peoples and strata of society.

A further objective of NIREC, which is to create a permanent and sustainable channel of communication and interaction in order to promote dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, is in alignment with the stated position of CAN. Undoubtedly, therefore, Nigeria's Christian religious leadership deserves credit for the achievement of both interfaith and intra-faith dialogue in present-day Nigeria.

Although there are still tensions between the Christian and Islamic faiths, the commitment of many Christian religious leaders, in collaboration with government and certain Islamic leaders, has noticeably assisted in quelling religious tensions and in the process reducing religious violence in Nigeria. In a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society such as Nigeria, peace-building remains indispensable indeed to the achievement of meaningful development.

Moral values are essential to the development and wellbeing of societies, especially in Africa, where many countries are facing the menace of corruption. Despite the fact that Bolatito Lanre-Abass has argued that the absence of a morally sound leadership in Nigeria may, in part, be attributed to the failure of religious leaders who ought to be the bastions of moral values in society, Nigerians continue to look up to their religious leaders - not least those of the Christian persuasion - as role models and repositories of high moral standards. Thus, although certain criminal acts have been associated with some professed Christian religious leaders in the recent past, such as the murder case of Rev.

King, 7 Christian and other religious leaders are in the public eye still seen as role models 8 who could contribute and are contributing towards sanitising Nigerian society of its low moral standards. This was a belief also shared by a number of the respondents from the empirical exploration, as we have indicated. Whereas leadership training has often featured in a number of church programmes, an initiative such as the founding of Lux Terra - which, as we have noted, is a socio-political leadership training centre established by a religious leader 9 - is a new development in Nigeria.

Initiatives such as this surely have much to offer towards the mentoring and development of competent socio-religious, political and economic leadership for Nigerian society and even for other African societies facing similar leadership challenges. Yet such political socialisation that goes beyond the mere allocation of values Mbachu may still be a major missing link in the mindset of many Nigerian Christian religious leaders. One of the arguments by a respondent in the empirical exploration quoted earlier, namely that church leaders are bringing 'Biblical virtues to bear on the polity', is hardly tenable when one considers, for instance, the scope and extent of corruption in Nigerian society.

However, our discussion in this article suggests that Nigeria's Christian religious leadership has in recent times been making gradual inroads into the political and economic realm. Christian religious leaders should be encouraged to sustain this momentum and to initiate sound ethical values in the public domain, where they are now increasingly engaging as politicians and entrepreneurs.

In addition to - but also girded by - the ethical values they promote, it is through their direct participation in the political and economic realm that they could make a significant contribution to the ideals of sustainable transformational development. It is commendable, as one respondent in the empirical exploration observed, that Pentecostal churches in Nigeria are today moving to the forefront of ecclesial social engagement through projects of economic empowerment. However, whilst projects may have an ameliorating effect with regard to the economic and social hardship experienced by church members and by Nigerians in general, it should also be noted that such projects are far too few to create the desired impact of sustainable transformational development cf.

Elliot ; Swart In addition, the financial costs of certain projects and the required infrastructure may be too much for many, if not most, churches to cope with. Such projects and their infrastructure may include electrical power generation and distribution, paved highways, and mechanised farming and storage facilities, which require market trends that would be favourable to sustained production.

But it is also possible that such projects may distract the church from channelling its energies towards the more important issues that are the cause of economic and socio-political injustice. Instead of a dominant focus on projects, such redirecting of energies calls for a far more active, critical and knowledgeable engagement on the level of economic and policy discourse contributing to the ideological and practical framework of sustainable transformational development.

Throughout Nigeria the people have benefited enormously from the educational institutions that had been established by the missionaries, but also afterwards when church leaders in Nigeria took over those institutions from the missionaries. Most of the Nigerian elite, including Muslims, have been products of the missionary or church schools. Successive Nigerian governments have recognised the commitment of the Christian religious leadership and their churches to education. However, the initial trend whereby church schools were affordable for many Nigerians is fast disappearing, as respondents in the empirical exploration have suggested.

Many church schools, especially those owned by the new generation churches, are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the poor, some of whom contributed their meagre resources to the establishment of these schools in the hope of their children receiving an education. As disturbing as the new trend of expensive church schools may be, especially in the light of the poor educational standards of state-owned educational institutions in Nigeria, this trend does not invalidate the important, on-going contribution of Christian religious leaders and their churches to the education of the Nigerian population.

The provision of social services in the form of hospitals, clinics, other forms and instances of medical care, and certain activities aimed at promoting peace in traditional societies, can be said to be one of the important preserves of Christian religious leaders in Nigeria. Yet, as we have highlighted in our discussion, the way in which Nigeria's Christian religious leadership has, in addition to these traditional areas of involvement, in recent times also shown a willingness to partner with the state and institutions from civil society to empower the poor, combat corruption and promote good governance, is equally commendable and should continue.

The awareness campaign among the faithful regarding politics and the screening of political contestants has shown that Christian religious leaders are gradually beginning to take their place in shaping the socio-political domain. Accordingly, the dividends of such engagements are beginning to show in the political terrain, which is now witnessing the direct participation of the Christian religious leadership in politics.

This signifies a considerable shift from the historic mode of engagement through charity-oriented activities and social services and the non-participatory, a-political legacy of missionary Christianity in Nigeria. We consider that we have provided sufficient evidence in this article to justify our reappraisal of how Nigeria's Christian leadership is showing new potential as a force for sustainable transformational development. This does not detract the fact that there is still considerable scope for further reorientation.

Not least amongst the prevailing challenges, there is a need to cultivate an even stronger ecumenical spirit among the country's churches and denominations, to create an even stronger willingness on the part of the ecclesial community to collaborate with groups from civil society and the other faiths, and to an even deeper honing of knowledge and skills to engage competently with actors from the public and economic sectors.

But above all, there is also an important need for the country's Christian religious leaders to develop an even sounder theological base to enable both themselves and the faithful to engage meaningfully in the public domain. The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationship s that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article. Abubakar, M. Achebe, C. Agba, M. Agbedo, O. Agbiji, O. Aye, E. Kalu ed. Belshaw, D. Calderisi, R. Belshaw, R. Sugden eds. Ojo eds.

Deng, L. Egharevba, E. Elliot, C. Eneh, O. Gibbs, G. Gumede, V. Kunhiyop, S. Chinne ed. Lanre-Abass, B. Marcellus, I. Mbachirin, A. Mbachu, O. Emezi eds. Mbiti, J. Minchakpu, O. Musa, D. Africa Christian Text Books, Bukuru. Nieman, A. Swart, H. Rocher, S. Erasmus eds.

Nkom, S. Ayo eds. The search for alternative systems of governance at the grassroots, pp. Nwokoma, N.

Top 5 challenges facing Christian leaders

Boko eds. Okoye, W. Oladipo, J. Olowu, D. Ter Haar ed. Omosegbon, O. Onaiyekan, J. Oni, S. Onyekpe, J. Odion-Akhaine ed. Otobo, E. Onimode ed. Power, J. Proctor, J. Salifu, S. Seteolu, D. Shao, J. Swart, I. Thisday, , 'Protesters demand to see Yar'Adua', 10 March, 1, 5. Ukaegbu, C. Williams, C. Wolfensohn, J. Geneva: World Council of Churches. Zuidervaart, L. Correspondence : Dr.

Agbiji Email: obajiagbiji gmail. Accepted: 01 Jun. His long absence from the country generated a lot of tension. He eventually died the same year. Maurice Iwu. Amongst other changes, the reforms led to the removal of Iwu and the appointment of Prof. Athahiru Jega, who supervised the national elections.

Being Christian in Western Europe

George Ehusani. Its purpose is to expose leaders and potential leaders to the dynamics of purposeful and visionary leadership. The offices of the Foundation are located in Abuja but its activities are implemented all over Nigeria. The presence of this sect and it militant attitude towards any form of Western education remains a huge concern to Nigerian society and a serious threat to the achievement of sustainable transformational development.

His real name is Rev. Emeka Ezeugo, alias Rev. He had been on death row over the murder of one of his church members, Ann Azuh. Prominent examples include Rev. All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Services on Demand Article. English pdf Article in xml format Article references How to cite this article Automatic translation.

Access statistics. Cited by Google Similars in Google. We therefore concluded as follows about the fundamental present-day challenge that the Christian religious leadership, as part of the leadership at large, faces in attempting to convert itself into a force for positive social transformation in present-day postmilitary Nigeria: Nigerian religious and political leaders should be reminded that they are not simply [spiritual or] political heads [respectively]: they are the divine symbols of their people's health and wellbeing.

The four problems of leadership are timeless and relevant—challenges we constantly face as spiritual leaders today. Read this book, and you will experience the Shepherd's touch and the wisdom of an inspirational servant leader. I would recommend this book warmly as a resource for any who are involved in mentoring or encouraging emerging leaders.

I also see much in Stott's advice that is directly applicable to the contemporary realities facing Canadian Mennonite Brethren. Turning to the Scriptures for truth and wisdom and to his many years of experience in Christian leadership, he tells of mistakes, failures, and lessons learned. Fans of Stott's Basic Christian Leadership will appreciate an authentically transparent look inside one of the Church's most distinguished leaders. Recommend this booklet to younger pastors, parachurch ministry leaders, and student leaders.

Problems of Christian Leadership will be helpful as an encouraging refresher or as a helpful primer for those who are called to serve as leaders in ministry settings. Preface 1. John R. Stott — has been known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, and communicator of Scripture. For many years he served as rector of All Souls Church in London, where he carried out an effective urban pastoral ministry. A leader among evangelicals in Britain and the United States and around the world, Stott was a principal framer of the landmark Lausanne Covenant Stott's many books have sold millions of copies around the world and in dozens of languages.

His best-known work, Basic Christianity, has sold two million copies and has been translated into more than sixty languages. In , Stott founded the Langham Trust to fund scholarships for young evangelical leaders from the Majority World. He then founded the Evangelical Literature Trust, which provided books for students, pastors, and theological libraries in the Majority World.

These two trusts continued as independent charities until , when they were joined as a single charity: the Langham Partnership. Langham's vision continues today to see churches in the Majority World equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ through nurturing national movements for biblical preaching, fostering the creation and distribution of evangelical literature, and enhancing evangelical theological education.

IVP Academic. Special Offers. IVP Book Club. Problems of Christian Leadership. BY John Stott. A Deeper Look at the Sermon on the Mount.

Table of Contents

Balanced Christianity. Baptism and Fullness. Basic Christian Leadership. Basic Christianity. Basic Christianity Bible Study. Becoming a Christian. Christ in Conflict. Christian Leadership. Christian Mission in the Modern World. God's Word for Today. John Stott Bible Studies. Looking Below the Surface 1 Reader. Reading Ephesians with John Stott. Reading Galatians with John Stott.