THEN NEXT MOVE OF GOD IN THE CHURCH By Lolu Akinwunmi, child of God.

IT IS A LONG ESSAY, BUT WORTH IT. PLEASE READ. WHILE CONTRIBUTIONS ARE WELCOME, THE INTENT IS NOT TO DISPARAGE THE CHURCH BUT TO SPEAK THE TRUTH. MAY I PLEAD THAT ALL RESPONSES FOLLOW THIS PATTERN. THANK YOU. 
In the last few years, there’s been plenty of rumbling in the Church, and specifically, the Pentecostal fellowship. We have had uncommon attention on the group, not just in Nigeria, but also in many parts of the world. Sometimes you wonder at the ferocity of attention, especially when the so-called traditional churches are almost left untouched. There shouldn’t be anything to panic about; IT IS A MOVE FROM GOD. I will in this article try to show this and what God has in mind and what He plans to do. 
I write as an insider. I am a believer and was ordained an Assistant Pastor in 1990 and so understand what this is all about. Plus I also understand the traditional ways; my late father was an Anglican reverend. I therefore write with a high sense of responsibility and knowledge. I must warn that many of the church traditionalists may not find this essay friendly, but I feel fulfilled writing it. 
SOME CURRENT ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE (PENTECOSTAL) CHURCH

I have culled most of these from several sources and have edited them below:
PROFLIGACY

This is about reckless extravagance. Many Pentecostal leaders have been accused of living in a way that is out of tune with their roles as spiritual leaders; certainly not in line with scriptural teachings. The key argument from many people is that if the source of income is from the people through tithes, offerings, special donations, etc., then there should be less extravagance and there should be more restraint. Many cite the lifestyle of the orthodox churches where the ministers are comfortable because the Church endeavours to meet basic needs. It was not always so; we had sedate Christianity with plenty of values until the Americans came with their “cash and carry” Pentecostalism, “Faith it and receive it”, “Instant coffee” Christianity; just pour hot water, and presto! These mercantile doctrines have done almost irreparable damage to local Christianity. I am not against any Minister living well, after all the Scripture supports this for all believers. But there is something about it when your congregants are struggling and you cruise around in very expensive fleet of cars and even Church-bought and maintained jet.
ACCOUNTABILITY

Many of us grew up in the “traditional” churches, i.e. Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, C&S etc. I can speak for the Anglican Church because my father was an Anglican reverend, and I hope it still happens. Every Sunday, the monetary incomes and expenditures for the week would be announced. But the Pentecostal approach is different; at least in the churches I have associated with. This does not happen except as part of an annual report. Why? I don’t know, and I am not condemning it. There has to be a reason for it. But I know that it has helped the traditional churches a lot especially in the area of accountability. You hardly hear of embezzlement or the misuse of funds. There is fiscal responsibility. I will say more on this when I discuss the new government regulation on this issue.
OWNERSHIP STRUCTURE/SYNDROME

The traditional churches are not owned by anyone. No one can claim to own the Anglican, Methodist, Catholic Churches. The Pentecostal churches apart from maybe RCCG and Four Square are family-owned. This means the founder-owner transfers control from generation to generation as we have seen in Benson Idahosa’s church. Sometimes people wonder if the Holy Spirit is in a permanent mode of transferring leadership and control from one family member to the other.
IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

The focus on money is shameful. Multiple offerings and all manner of fetches to get money from the people. Many have become impoverished who tried to meet the demands of the Pastors. Sometimes when people have had enough and resist these fleecings, you hear the Pastors say things like, “My prayer gave you your breakthrough”! Such nonsense! Such is the depth of commitment to the filthy lucre. Worse, no one is asking questions when people bring in large sums as tithes and offerings; they instantly become the Pastors’ favourites. Inappropriately, the Church is partnering sin and unrighteousness. We all read with horror when the accounts of a civil servant pastor who died revealed over N7 billion a few years ago. It was also controversial when a lowly staff of a hotel was giving millions to his church. The Pastor refused to give the money back; as far as he was concerned, it was from God!
SOCIALIZATION OF THE CHURCH

I wrote a piece on Facebook indicating the socialization of the Church, the gradual introduction of comedies etc. It’s a lot heavier than this. I have watched churches organize all manner of conferences, especially by the pastors’ wives, where there is so much of elegance and all that. Elegant “geles” and expensive jewelries. I have nothing against these, but cannot help wondering sometimes the spiritual relevance within the scope of God’s expectations. There is a strong need to define and determine what we want to do with the church. Do we want to run elegant members’ clubs or a spiritual house? Worse, some of the people invited as speakers are people of questionable reputation, but top members of the society. Once a major church in Nigeria announced a known dupe of very questionable character as a member of one of its boards. He is a very rich man and sometimes says he is a politician. Everyone was scandalized. But such is the depth of morass and decadence in the Pentecostal church.
We all must never forget that the Church is God’s property, which was why Jesus said, “I will build MY Church”. If the Lord claims ownership, then He has the right and authority to interfere when the human custodians are getting it all wrong. And He does it from generation to generation. Which brings me to a historical part of this essay, THE LUTHERAN INTERVENTION.
THE LUTHERAN INTERVENTION

Martin Luther (1483-1596) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with money, proposing an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517. His refusal to renounce all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor.
Luther taught that salvation and, subsequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God and opposed sacerdotalism (the system, spirit, or methods of the priesthood, usually negative), by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. Those who identify with these, and all of Luther’s wider teachings, are called Lutherans, though Luther insisted on Christian or Evangelical as the only acceptable names for individuals who professed Christ.
His translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible to the laity, an event that had a tremendous impact on both the church and German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible. His hymns influenced the development of singing in Protestant churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant clergy to marry.
Martin Luther erred in some areas. In two of his later works, Luther expressed antagonistic views towards Jews, writing that Jewish homes and synagogues should be destroyed, their money confiscated, and liberty curtailed. Condemned by virtually every Lutheran denomination, these statements and their influence on antisemitism have contributed to his controversial status.
His revolution led to The Protestant Reformation of the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era. In northern and central Europe, reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to define Christian practice. They argued for a religious and political redistribution of power into the hands of Bible- and pamphlet-reading pastors and princes. The disruption triggered wars, persecutions and the so-called Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church’s delayed but forceful response to the Protestants.
God used a few things to move against the decadent Catholic Church of the era and its papal excesses:
1. God used Martin Luther

2. God used the advent of the new printing technology which debuted in Germany to lead to an unprecedented production of the Bible and other readings, such that the restless people were no longer ignorant
By these and more, the Protestants came out of the Catholic Church and from them the Evangelicals evolved and from these the Pentecostals. God is always ahead and this is what the Pentecostals must be aware of.
BACK TO THE PRESENT

Today we are witnessing unprecedented excesses within the Pentecostal fold. The restlessness within the Church is unprecedented. People are talking openly; many are going back to the orthodox churches. This stirring is by the Holy Spirit, warning and urging the Pentecostal leaders to mend their ways and come back to our first love and shun all worldly distractions. If they don’t change, God will initiate change. Like He raised Luther, Calvin etc., He will raise a new group of people who will listen to Him and do His will in righteousness. When the Lutheran move expired, God brought in others. He always has a plan and a back up because He has said the “gates of hell shall not prevail against the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION

The Nigerian government has enacted legislation, which seeks to make religious organisations more accountable. Now churches, mosques, religious groups etc. must comply with certain rules. Son can no longer take over from father; indeed no family member can take over as we have been having in quite a few churches and ministries. There is also the rule that after 20 years, leadership MUST change hands. There are also issues related to better fiscal management, even though religious organizations are exempted from taxation. Lets be honest, this new regime can be situated within excesses of especially Pentecostal folds. Why do I say this? Anglican, Catholic etc., don’t pass leadership on to families and few spend 20 years. They are also more fiscally accountable. All the traditional churches have well laid out succession plans. Even Four Square has: I hear the max you can stay is 10 years as GO. Its good. But you can be sure that lawyers are working hard to breach these legislations!!
And if you are wondering how God will make His move, wonder no more. He will use the incredible social media. He will create new alliances. He will send His Spirit into the hearts of men and women who are tired of Pentecostal excesses so that the main work will not stop or be corrupted. These are people without titles, simple ground troops who simply love the Lord. No titles, no flowing robes, no churches; just like the Apostles that “turned the world upside down” in the New Testament.
We are tired of Church leaders who preach during the day and hobnob with politicians at night. We are tired of church leaders who will not speak the truth, but will speak what those in government want to hear so they can benefit materially and in other ways. If they do not change, God will raise others to replace them. 
Amen.

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