Churches in Nigeria
Churches in Nigeria

In January 2017, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye during the annual thanksgiving service of the year announced to the shock of millions of members of the church across the world and Nigerians in general that he has stepped down as the overseer of the church in Nigeria. He announced the appointment of a National Overseer for the church in Nigeria, in person of Pastor Joseph Osuolale Obayemi while maintaining and clarifying that he remains the global overseer of the church.

Pastor Adeboye’s decision stemmed from a controversial guideline; Not for Profit Organisations: Governance Code 2016 that was released by the Financial Regulation Council of Nigeria, which provided that leaders or founders of these organisations should not be at the helms of affairs of the organsations for more than 20 years. This was what necessitated the revered man of God to step down having led the church since 1981.

Although regulation was later reviewed, it however gave a glimpse into church administration in Nigeria. Apart from the Catholic Church that is regarded as a universal Church, churches in the country are expected and required to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission as a non-governmental organization. As far as the government of Nigeria is concerned, the church administration is run by the Board of Trustees. The BoTs are equivalent to shareholders or directors in incorporated company. The BoTs are responsible for the management and direction of the church and for filing any statutory returns.

Usually, with the nature of “calling”, churches in Nigeria are usually founded by an individual who determines the leadership model that would be fitting for the church. But the need to meet up with the laws of the country would not allow church founders to run it solely in principle.

Due to the mandate of Jesus Christ to his disciples with the Great Commission, church leaders in Nigeria spread the tentacles of their churches to every part of the country by establishing parishes that are overseen by resident pastors who report and are responsible to their superior pastors. Depending on the wider coverage of the church, various denominations adopt varied administrative structure for ease of coordination and connection. However, whatever structure that is adopted, the geopolitical structure of the country in to states and zones is a factor that is mostly considered.

In the United States, due to the liberal nature of the country, there are various ways churches are governed. One of such is Congregationalism, a type of church government that is mainly self-governing. The Church members operate and determine their affairs without any outside or any other church overseeing its affairs. This type of church administration is practiced by most evangelical churches in the US.

They run their affairs and operate individually and independently. Each congregation has the ability to govern themselves, not depending on other churches and their decisions. Each member has an influence on how the church operates; they can call meetings and vote.

Another form of church administration in that part of the world is the Elder-led church. That is, certain people who are deemed worthy in character and spiritual standard. 

They are appointed to make decisions on behalf of the church. Those that subscribe to this form of church governance based their conviction of Paul’s letter to Timothy about overseers and deacons.

Elder-led churches give the highest authority to the pastors and elders in the church, not the general congregation. This form of leadership is common in Baptist and Presbyterian Churches.

The other prominent church administration model that is common in the United States is denominationalism. This is where the church is organized with one person or group of leaders govern over all churches of that denomination.

What this means is that decisions taken at the administrative headquarters of the denomination affect every parishes of that denomination. There may be one person or group of people who has authority to lead all Churches of the denomination.

Whatever model of church administration that is adopted in any part of the world, what is most important is the commitment to the Great Commission.


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