Opinion: Are churches now in competition?

By Ugonna Eronini

This is something am sure each and everyone one of us have experienced and it’s not only annoying sometimes, it is getting out of hand.

I moved to school a bit late this semester and got settled down. For Sunday services the previous semester, I had been attending a fellowship in school that my friend told me about. We used to go as a group from my hostel, so yes it was easier for me. I had enjoyed the service numerous times but it was as though something was missing.

Before then, as I am an Anglican, I decided to attend the Anglican church in my school on a Sunday which happened to be Easter Sunday. I wanted to sing the Easter hymns and enjoy all the ceremonialities attached to Easter, so yes an Anglican church would be perfect for that. I thought.

But it wasn’t as I expected. It wasn’t exactly full which is not my problem as I understood that a lot of students went home for the short holiday. But then nothing. I didn’t have the feel at all. It was just like a normal service and forgive me but I was a bit disappointed because I didn’t get what I expected.

Anyways, after attending the fellowship my friend recommended which I enjoyed, I still knew something was missing. I don’t think I belonged there. It wasn’t bad, but something wasn’t there.

I began a mini-church hunt.

For the first Sunday I spent in school, I didn’t go to church.  It wasn’t just working that day so I did my own fellowship at home.

Few days to the next Sunday, I was invited for a program by a hostel mate to the church he attends. I would’ve called it his church, but the last time I addressed it that way, he said it’s not his church, it’s a church. So yes, a church. I couldn’t go for the program as I was so busy that period and would often come back a bit late and exhausted.

On Saturday, he invited me for the Sunday Service. I went for the service and well enjoyed it, although it was a satellite church, which is not one of my favourite things. I decided to attend the church whenever I wasn’t ready to transport myself in and out, as the church was trekkable from where I live.

As usual, the first-timer ritual of telling you all about their church and giving you forms to fill, which I gladly did.

The upcoming week was one of the busiest for me. A friend invited me for their Wednesday fellowship which I attended, then on Friday of that week I attended a music concert organised by another fellowship in school.

On the Sunday of that week, I attended my friend’s church which she invited me to. The next Sunday she invited me again to her church for their send-forth. I couldn’t make it as I was in town that weekend.

Now, the Sunday afterwards which happened to be yesterday, my hostel mate again invited me to his church. You see, this is all so confusing. This time I told him that I already have a fellowship I attend in school and that just because I came once doesn’t mean I would come every Sunday. If I decide to make it my New church, it should be up to me and not his constant invitations.

These days, people are more focused on the “church” than the actual Christian growth.

Isn’t the point of building churches and expanding so that the gospel can get into every nook and cranny and not which church has the most members? People are more focused on “converting” you to their church than helping you grow as a Christian, it’s more of a “my-church-would-transform-your-life-better” than the beauty of knowing that your neighbour or friend out there is a fellow brethren in Christ.

This particular hostel mate of mine kept disturbing me and knocking at odd hours just to remind me of the church service. I almost gave him a stern warning to stop because it turned into a disturbance.

Individuals of the Christian faith are more concerned about the church so much that it has clouded their mindsets. You’ve invited me once, if I felt that was my place I be, that’s up to me and not the constant invitations. So all these while haven’t I been attending a church?

One very big problem churches especially the Pentecostal churches have is that they act like they are in a competition. “You attend this church, oh, I would like to invite you to mine”, with the attitude of I think mine would be better. Denominations have created a division amongst Christians.

I attend this fellowship in town, and it’s the first fellowship which is non-denominational. As long as you are Christian, come on along. They engage in activities which mustn’t compulsively be affiliated with the church where this fellowship is held. If you decide to be a member, that’s up to you.

To the people so eager to prove that their church would be of better growth to your life, don’t you think other church members think so too? Why don’t you concentrate on growing as one, as a household than as competitors?. It’s not a bad thing to invite your friends to special events in your church, but then why get offended when they don’t come. It’s not an obligation unno. It’s a decision which is up to me.

Growing up, I had admired some men of God from watching them on TV, and whenever they were to minister in a program which held around my area, I try my best to go.

Friends and fellow Christians, don’t you think some of you are overdoing it. Is it compulsory to honour your invitation?. I have seen some people give me that look of “oh, you’re a sinner, you need Jesus in your life” whenever I politely decline. I tell them I have a program that particular in my own church and they are like, what of next Sunday?

Ahn ahn, kini big deal…I don’t want to attend, come and beat me now.

It is getting out of hand, on a more serious note and it needs to stop. If you’re a Christian you should concentrate on sharing the gospel and acting like one. You should be able to have intelligent eye-opening discussions with fellow Christians irrespective of their denomination. You should lay-out your point of view without low-key making the other party feel less about his/her church or denomination. You should understand that what’s important is that a person has a personal relationship with God and not how often he goes to church. Although that really matters before some of you think it’s okay to always stay at home on the Sundays. Lol. It’s not that okay.

The point of churches and fellowship were to have a sense of belonging and have a place to grown in the faith as they are always people to direct you, not whose church is more lit and has more congregation.

If I honour every church invitation, I would be a complete church fugitive, and a nuisance to myself.

So today, try to change that mindset. If someone says he/she can’t make it to your service, please understand, if you don’t want to understand, you can cry me a river. Lol. If you think the person needs some areas of his/her to be impacted by the faith, pray for this person and let your life be a testimony, let your light shine so that the person can see the pecks of joining in the faith.

If one says he/she already has a church where he’s a regular, please leave the person alone or invite the person only to special events.

Ask for wisdom my people, ask for wisdom to do the right things, ask for wisdom for direction. Ask for wisdom so that you don’t become a temptation to another.

Do the right thing!

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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