Text: 1 Chronicles 12:32, 2 Timothy 2:15
For every generation, the message of the Gospel should remain the same. However, the instruments and methods—of passing the Gospel to each generation—must change if the church and ministers are to catch up with the peculiarities of that generation.
Ministry remains the following:
- The message of reconciliation of man unto God, through Christ Jesus.
- The restoration of the glory of man
- The liberation of man from the grip of the devil and sin
- Territorial expansion of the reign and sovereignty of God
- The demonstration of His love and power, through the Gospel to humanity
- Becoming the extension of God’s hands
What are the challenges of ministry in the 21’st century?
1. Globalization and a fast pace of development.
Communities like Kunukunuma and Ozoro (both in Delta state), Uturu in Abia state, and Okada in Edo state, were all rural communities about 20 years back. However, today, universities and tertiary institutions are located in them or very close to them. Any pastor operating in the area with the mindset of a village pastor would not be able to cope with a sudden influx of highly educated people into his/her church.
2. This is a well-educated, well-informed, and misinformed generation.
Today, we have second- and third-generation of believers (children of Christians), who have refused to serve God. On Sunday, during the church service at Ama-Ebimo Zion, Kunukunuma, a young chief declared that he is not a Christian and he doesn’t go to church, but he attends church programs. As I sat with him over lunch, he said he was born a Christian, became a Muslim, and he is now an idol worshipper. He is wealthy and a very articulate engineer. As he heard me preach, he applauded and eventually bought all the different materials I took there and promised to read them. It was because he heard from a man who was equally educated, financially comfortable, and exposed.
3. In this dispensation, many young and, even, mature Christians no longer go to church on Sundays because of the kind of messages we preach in our churches and the nature of our services.
4. Strange, satanic behaviours are being approved by government, globally, like homosexuality, lesbianism, abortion, beastialism, incest, etc., even in conservative societies like Ireland. In some nations, a pastor can be taken to court if he/she refuses to wed homosexual or lesbian couples.
5. Another challenge of the 21st century is liberal theology.
We now have gay bishops, polygamous pastors and preachers, cohabiting pastors, and an abuse of the Gospel of Grace.
6. The next challenge is charlatans and crooks parading as pastors, evangelists, and prophets.
Pastors have become an object of mockery because of lack of integrity—manifested as promiscuity and infidelity among clergy men and women, fraudulent financial deals, and fraudulent prophecies and miracles.
7. Conspicuous consumption and extravagant lifestyles of pastors.
8. Donor fatigue.
A lot of members who have seen the extravagant lifestyle of leaders of denominations and even branch pastors has culminated in the recent onslaught on the payment of tithes and the questioning of the abuse of fund raising by preachers. As a result, there is a donor fatigue. I know several rich men, who are close to me, who no longer pay tithes in their churches. Therefore, there is going to be a massive reduction in the incomes of several denominations if care is not taken. To compound this, is the perception—and rightly too—that many people are building empires and family businesses in the name of churches and ministries.
9. Another important challenge of this dispensation is a very dynamic computer-addicted generation that have a very short attention span.
You cannot afford to hold long services in this dispensation because they have to travel, work, go to school, and engage in other activities.
10. The availability of satellite TV creates a room for all kinds of suggestions that can make them question what they’ve learnt.
1. The average minister cannot depend on the anointing alone.
He/she must study to show himself/herself approved, a workman that need not be ashamed; this will involve studying and updating oneself with current and relevant information and knowledge. He/she must be well trained and mentored with a Danielic and Josephic
He/she must be well trained and mentored with a Danielic and Josephic grace.
2. Ministers should acquire extra skills to be relevant, socially and economically, in the marketplace because to depend on tithes and offerings, alone, would be a great risk.
3. Churches must indulge in businesses or ventures that would be beneficial to their members and community by generating employment, and rendering affordable and qualitative services like schools, hospitals, farms, etc.
For instance, a church, I know, has a farm, a hatchery, a poultry, a hospital, a school, and a tractor repair workshop. Another church, I also know, has a lab, pharmacy, hospital, physiotherapy unit, bookshop, nursery, primary, and secondary schools. The situation where members can’t afford services such as education in institutions they have contributed to build is not a good model for ministries.
4. We cannot afford to run disorganized ministries in this dispensation.
Our church services must be properly organized with better time management. I spoke in Australia for an hour and thirty minutes. I was politely advised that I had given them a week’s worth of messages because they needed to work (and some had to work up to 3 jobs). Each service must not be long, but every message must do the following E’s: educate, emancipate, empower and energize, evangelize, entertain, and excite.
5. The era of spending colossal sums of money to hold large crusades that are predominantly attended by Christians, with little or nothing to show at the end of such programs in terms of church attendance by new converts, is fast becoming unwise, ineffective, and uneconomical.
The modern trend is the church without walls. Every Wednesday by 6.30 a.m. (WAT), for 30 minutes, I speak to about 11 million people in several states of the South-South, covered by Quest FM, 93.1. It costs me what most churches would use for publicity for a typical church crusade. The phone calls I receive after each broadcast, and the effect it has had on several lives is very overwhelming. Therefore, churches and ministries must make very effective use of the radio, the TV, blogs, social media platforms, etc. They are more cost effective and have a wider and more global reach. For each post I make on my blog, I have readers and comments from different nations and continents, beyond Africa.
6. We must embark more on institutional evangelism.
We are fishers of men; fishermen go to where fishes gather; fishes don’t get invited to their homes. What we have been practicing is showing the faces of our general overseers and some popular guest speakers with very funny sounding themes and programs, hoping it will attract the ‘fishes’ to our ‘sitting rooms’. We must deliberately go out to where people gather and where they are most likely to listen to a very sharp and short message. Examples include prisons, remand homes, schools, universities, work places, and markets.
7. The concept of building big cathedrals to sit hundreds or thousands of people with billions of Naira is an ineffective way of winning souls in this dispensation.
It has been partly responsible for the excessive and abusive attempts to raise funds from the members by any which way. A 7-Billion-Naira hospital with a thousand bed spaces will have, at least, five hundred beds with 500 patients, more than 500 caretakers, more than 500 workers, and many more visitors. Each day you would have up to 3,000-4000 people who are very willing to listen to the Gospel. In fact, there is no better place to demonstrate the healing anointing and the raising of the dead than such places. In addition to all these, it will generate wealth and employment to members and outsiders, and generate income, both to the church and society, in which it is situated.
8. Churches like the Celestial Church, Cherubim and Seraphim, African Church, and other churches of African origin must be ready to re-brand to meet the expectations of their new generations and the challenges of this dispensation. If not, a lot of their young people will migrate to other churches, fringe religions, and total unbelief. Even older Pentecostal churches are not left out.
Albert Einstein is usually credited to have said that to do the same thing, the same way, with the same people and expect different results is similar to insanity. I would add that to do the same thing, the same way—when the rules of the game have changed, the players have changed, while you are still playing the game with the same rules and strategies—is the peak of foolishness.
God bless you