AN INVESTIGATION INTO FACTORS THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CONFLICTS AND DIVISIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY CHURCH . A CASE STUDY OF SOME SELECTED CHURCHES AGWADA DEVELOPMENT AREA OF NASARAWA STATE
1.1 Background to the study
Conflict‘ is defined as a relationship between two or more parties that centres on differences, disagreement on some issues of common interest or concern, divergence, incompatibility, clash of wills and the like; it may involve feeling of hatred and opposition Awedoba, (2009); Horowitz and Bordens, (1995). In the words of Bamikole (2009), One of the fundamental challenges that had confronted man in social history is that of the inevitability of conflict and disagreement in human relations‖. This is because, as long as people live together, work together, and interact with each other, disputes remain inevitable between sub-groups or individuals in a group, or between different groups. When these disputes are fuelled by emotion and become unsolvable, they develop into intra and inter-group conflicts, (Angessa, 2013). The reality posed by the challenge of conflict has more often than not, resulted into social problems, especially, when such conflicts are not well and properly managed before degenerating into violent confrontations. History is replete with records of conflicts and armed conflicts at various strata of human relations. Whether at the inter-personal, inter-group, intra-group, intra-national, conflicts have been found recurring in social relations‖ (Bamikole, 2009).
Church conflict is an area that has not caught much interest in academic discourses. There are lots of literature on inter-tribal, inter-ethnic, inter-communal conflicts like the Ife-Modakeke crises, scramble for scarce resources in the Niger Delta, boundary/lands feuds in Abakaliki Ebonyi state and their Cross River state neighbors and marginalization agitations from both the minority and majority groups in Nigeria among others. As noted by Otite, (1999) whether conflict is viewed as normal or abnormal, it is reoccurring, natural or even a pathological fact, it is inherent in all kinds of social relationships/institutions, be it economic, political, or religious. It is therefore pertinent to state categorically that religious conflict is becoming more threatening to societal unity and human peaceful co-existence in Nigeria than any other form of conflict. That of the Pentecostal churches is evident in the proliferation and duplication of churches at the slightest disagreement and all kinds of social drama ensue between General Overseers (G.O) and their subordinate pastors, a section of the congregation and deacons/deaconesses/elders against the pastors/members on the other side Onyima, (2007).
Church conflicts have existed in this world from time immemorial. This is based on the historical account recorded about the conflict between Barnabas and Paul in regard to John Mark which had led to division of the missionary team (Acts 15:36-41). Since 1990, Nigeria has been experiencing different categories of continuous religious conflicts be it inter or intra-religious conflict. There were religious conflicts among Christians leaders. For example in 2007, There was a conflict between the General Overseer of Lord Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministry, Pastor Lazarus Muoka and the trendy and charismatic overseer of Christ Chosen Generation Revival Ministry, Pastor Eze Nnamdi Ofoegbu over an alleged investment of some N370 million in the church. Vangurad(2009). The parties have been in court from 2007-2009 over an alleged financial ‘investment’ for the growth of the church within and outside Lagos.
A similar incident occurred between in 2016 when South-South zone of the Assemblies of God Nigeria pulled out of the church alleging marginalisation, gross injustice in ministers’ remuneration; unhealthy rivalry among ministers, inefficiency and escalating administrative and financial malfeasance. Chukwu (2016).
Despite these problems, investigation of conflict in 21ST century churches as a socio-cultural system lost out in ethnographic details. Hence this study employed both theoretical and empirical evidences to analyze the incidences, causes and trends of church conflicts beyond the general perspectives, rather specific cases and individual driven data related to conflict were examined in the two g selected churches in Nasarawa
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It’s always disappointing to hear about or experience conflict in the 21st Century Church. Churches supposed to be the assembly of believers who all expect their salvation in Christ and are also called to love one another as we have been loved by Christ. So how can there be serious conflict in the church? How is it that conflicts escalate so quickly in the Reformed community that they end up, in some cases, even tearing churches apart? Sadly, the rapid escalation of conflict in Reformed churches has caused some to throw up their hands and to walk away from the church altogether. Others may have stayed, but have become somewhat cynical. And still others remain with pain that stays for a lifetime. This study seeks to investigate those factors that are responsible for conflicts and divisions in the 21st Century Church.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of the study is on Investigation Into Factors That Are Responsible For Conflicts And Divisions In The 21st Century Church . A Case Study Of Some Selected Churches Agwada Development Area Of Nasarawa State
The study was guided by the following specific objectives;
- To examine the structural causes responsible for Conflicts And Divisions In the 21st Century Churches In Agwada Development Area Of Nasarawa State
- To investigate the positive and negative effects of church conflicts among 21st Century Churches
- To understand the various Strategies employed in managing Conflicts And Divisions In the 21st Century Churches In Agwada Development Area Of Nasarawa State
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the main structural causes of Conflicts And Divisions In the 21st Century Churches In Agwada Development Area Of Nasarawa State?
- What are the positive and negative effects of church conflicts among 21st Century Churches?
- What are the various Strategies employed in managing Conflicts And Divisions In the 21st Century Churches In Agwada Development Area Of Nasarawa State?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The study investigates into factors that are responsible for conflicts and divisions in the 21st century church . A Study Of Some Selected Churches Agwada Development Area Of Nasarawa State. The scope of this study were limited to two churches which are the Living Faith Church Agwada Branch and Evangelical Church Winning All Agwada branch
1.6 Significance of the Study
This research is considered very important because the findings would help restore peace and promote development in Nasarawa. This is because conflict dramatically disrupts traditional development, reduces growth and prosperity. Again the lessons derived would be useful for future conflict prevention.
It will serve as means of educating Christians to unite and solve problems facing their communities. It will also serve as a bed-rock for re-establishing sustainable peace among the conflicting parties. It may help religious leaders to know how to react to some sensitive issues within their churches and the need to resolve misunderstandings before they develop into conflicts. More so, it may provide the leadership of religious communities with the skills, tools, and capabilities required to improve dialogue within their communities in order to reduce factionalism. It may be of great help to the Christian association of Nigeria (CAN) with regard to the drawing of the church‘s constitutions. Nigeria Education Service will also benefit from this research. For it will help Curriculum Research and Development to include topics of religious conflicts and its implications on society in the school syllabus.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
Many of the respondents declined to grant the interview. A few of them who granted the interview requested to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the topic under discussion. There were challenges of retrieving the distributed questionnaire.
1.8 Definition Of Terms
- Born Again: Being spiritually renewed and becoming a child of God by right of new birth. It means trusting in Jesus Christ.
- Charismata:The special ability or supernatural power that gives an individual influence over large numbers of people.
- Classical Pentecostals: The original Pentecostal churches which were started by Pentecostal missionaries. Most of them originated from Europe and USA.
- Denomination: A branch of the Christian church which has a well established network of hierarchy from national level to the local church. For example, the Anglican Church
- Fundamentalism: A Protestant religious movement emphasizing the literal infallibility of the Holy Scriptures.
- Mainline/Mainstream Churches: Missionary/historical or traditional churches established in the early 20thcentury by different missionary groups. Examples include , the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church.
- Mega Churches: Pentecostal churches with large congregations ranging from ten thousands members and above.
- Pentecostal Churches: Churches that emphasize baptism of the Holy Spirit, usually manifested through Speaking in tongues (glossolalia) and other gifts of the Holy Spirit (Charismata) such as faith, healing, prophecy and exorcism.
- Pentecostalism:A religious movement within Christianity that underlines direct personal experiences with God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and glosolalia, together with other gifts of the Holy Spirit.