Church Crawler: RCCG Ogba – of music, noise and a lingering headache

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The fad to abandon Nigerian cultures and embrace western practices and ways of life is a real threat that is fast seeping into different spheres of the life of a typical Nigerian person or institution –including religion.

This tragedy has created a generation of neo-modern believers that are more than willing to embrace foreign culture while ensuring that Nigerian cultures are stifled to a painful but quick death.

As I set out to begin my church crawling, I wasn’t in the least bit, looking forward to visiting any Pentecostal church.

Not only because I considered protestant churches to be enemies of local culture but also because I spent a substantial part of my formative years observing the religious principles of magna silencia, I was particularly wary of loud music and drawn out sessions of loud prayers.

However, I was particularly surprised by the church I crawled to.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Redeemed Christian Church of God (located at No. 35 Adeniji, Ogba, Ikeja) was the unassuming atmosphere within the church.

The church, its members and the building itself, had a certain unassuming and welcoming atmosphere – this was not a church, like St. Leo’s Catholic Church, were everybody saw you but nobody actually took interest in you.

No, this church was different, it was more of a family unit rather than a community.

There was a feeling of inclusiveness as the church ushers took care in welcoming each and every person –never mind whether the person was a first time visitor or regular parishioner.

Of particular note is the church choir: they possessed a certain understanding of each other, flowing seamlessly and neatly as if the same impulses flowed through their nerves.

Deftly, the keyboardist weaved through the different songs, gallantly leading other instrumentalist while at the same time providing a sort of equilibrium between other members of the band.

The three men on the gangan and drum set had an admirable chemistry, with one onilu drummer playing out risky, albeit unexpected and adventurous tones that would have thrown any other band of balance -this was nonetheless cushioned by the even temper of the two other drummers.

On the hand, the beautiful music doled out by the band was hit with the painful tragedy of terrible, if not confused, singers –especially the lead singer, who more than once threw the entire band off balance with her choice of – equally terrible songs and uncoordinated voice.

Aside the beautiful music (which honestly reminded me of a Lagbaja music performance) was the cultural inclusiveness of the church. Pastors and singers alike occasionally threw in phrases in many of the Nigerian languages –especially Yoruba and Igbo.

Sadly, I came to the church without a headache but left with one.

Not only were the prayers noisy and went on for far too long but a large number of the church members either held a maracas or tambourine which they shook furiously throughout the service, especially while praying.

I was left with a nagging question of whether God moves in silence or in roaring noise.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta did write that, “God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Many argue that prayers said quietly (or prayers without actually shouting) offer a chance to contemplate and communicate with God, and also have an intimate awareness of God’s presence.

Religious practices differ, while some, especially Pentecostal churches, appreciate praying out loud -even shouting-, some churches advocate for a more inward and quiet approach to prayer.

But in all these, RCCG church, Ogba, despite its wonderful band, is a far too noisy church that offers little opportunity for meditation and contemplation with a higher being.

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