Faced with the fact that over 6,000 Christians were bombed, beheaded or shot dead between January 2021 and March this year in Nigeria, and about 2,500 were kidnapped for ransom, the Church Administrators Society of Nigeria (CASON) hosted speakers to proffer solutions at its 9th annual conference tagged “The Church and the Challenge of Insecurity” in Lagos, this week.
Speaking at the confab, security expert and chief executive of Halogen Group, Mr. Wale Olaoye identified complacency and distraction as primary reasons why the unchurched and the un-discipled have foisted mayhem on Christians and the rest of the world.
He said, “Church leaders in Nigeria have become complacent. Rather than disciple the nations, they are busy acquiring wealth and building monuments, while their teeming followers idolize them. The truth is that the mark of great churches is not in their seating capacity, but in their sending capacity.
“Back in the day, Christians were eager to travel from the south to the core north on missions to win souls for Christ. But churches have stopped sending and funding missionaries. The alarming result of this is that out of 7.92 billion people in the world, Christians are just 2.26 billion. Amongst the unchurched, 5.27 billion are ISIS, ISWAB, Boko Haram and other terrorists who want to foist their extreme ideologies upon the world through violent bombings, killings, kidnappings, etc,” Olaoye explained.
According to the CASON Vice President, Pastor Steve Akoni, church administrators and pastors must rethink the new normal “because we are faced with new realities. We invite people to come and worship the Lord in our churches, therefore we are obliged to do all that we can to keep them safe. Technology has made security easy, so let’s install CCTV cameras, train our ushers and gatemen to become security conscious, and raise the security awareness of our congregation.”
Also speaking at the confab via a recorded video, Dr. Sam Adeyemi, Senior Pastor, Daystar Christian Centre, advised that church leaders must engage in scenario planning and prepare for all eventualities. He emphasised that such pro-activeness is faith-based and God-inspired because, “We need a combination of humanity and divinity to have security.”
Responding to questions, the CASON President and chief host of the confab, Pastor Seyi Oladimeji said, “The insecurity challenge dictates that every church leader today must create a secure but friendly worship facility and environment. We must leverage on both physical and virtual security structures, just as the bible instructs us to put on all of God’s armour so that we would all be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan.”
In the heat of insecurity and ahead of the 2023 elections, all the speakers at the 2022 CASON Conference agreed that while all Christians in Nigeria must demand good governance and vote only for politicians with proven integrity, church leaders must look within and begin to do much more to erase ostentatious living, prevent stealing, fraud and fake lifestyles among their numbers.
In addition to this, churches in Nigeria are also encouraged to return to funding missionaries to reach and win the unchurched in order to breakdown the rage against Christianity.
According to Olaoye, the main speaker, church leaders must be able to predict dangers, prevent them, protect their congregation and respond accordingly to all threats. “In addition to this, churches should begin to do proper risk assessment, background checks on key persons, invest in facility security systems, establish access control, emergency and lockdown procedures, etc. They must also invest in insurance and cybersecurity.”
Pastor Wole Oladiyun, author, engineer, serial entrepreneur and Senior Pastor, Christ Livingspring Apostolic Ministry (CLAM) rounded off the conference with a fervent prayer session, while commending CASON for taking the initiative to train administrators for the Church in Nigeria, even in its ongoing collaboration with Babcock University.