In my book, ‘Nation-building: How to build and sustain a developed Nigeria’, I stated that there are three key foundations for nation-building – Family, Faith and Education. Without these three, no country can attain First World status and it is through these three that First World nations sustain their status.
For the rest of 2016, I will focus on the Family and Faith because these must first be addressed before we can truly address Education. The Family and Faith have the critical task of transforming the mindset of the key stakeholders in the educational sector (Students, Teachers, School Management, PTA, Administrators, etc.).
Considering the church, in my view, is the biggest influencer in Nigeria, she would be the best group to accelerate nation-building in these desperate times. We will start with Faith and focus on the Church.
Before we deliberate on the role of the church in nation-building, it is essential for us to make clear why the church should not only be involved in nation-building but also be playing a leading role.
Why the church?
It is the mandate of the Church to build: The mandate to build the Kingdom of God (by winning souls and transforming the lives of Kingdom citizens) does not only have spiritual manifestation but also physical manifestations and the benefits are to both ‘citizens’ of the Kingdom and those outside. Therefore, it should be said that the building of Kingdom of God is the building of our nation.
The Church has a mandate to build a nation that is blessed and is a blessing to nations of the world.
The message of the Church: Considering her mandate, the church’s core messages should form the basis of the nation-building core values. It is these values that transform citizens into nation-builders.
Core value messages of compassion – love God and our neighbor; opportunity to be all God has created us and others to be; responsibility for our salvation and our nation; equality before God and with man; valour, given by God’s spirit to us to confront the status quo and change the tide of underdevelopment; ambition – our endowment by God with a desire to pursue greater heights; liberty from sin and human oppression; unity of the church and of the nation; enterprise – God-given abilities put in us to solve insurmountable problems; and spirituality – the worship of God and our total commitment to be used by Him to bring change.
The influence of the Church: We are known to be very religious and are quite passionate about attendance at religious gatherings. Many of our Church leaders, acknowledged as messengers of God, are well respected and revered by members and non-members, including top government officials in the three arms of government.
As a result, the Church has immense influence on her members (and non-members), many of whom hold positions of influence in all critical sectors of our nation. She also exerts immense influence on the followership in our nation.
The large human resources of the Church: The Church has at its disposal huge human resources – her members. When you consider that membership of some churches exceeds that of any employer of labour, including the government, and that these members regularly attend church meetings, are very committed to church programmes and vision, and are quite loyal to the church leadership, you will agree the Church has a unique advantage.
Enormous financial resources of the Church: One of the products of her influence on her large and mostly dedicated human resources, and on international organizations is an enormous financial resource. This comes in the form of regular tithes, offerings, gifts and grants, some of which are tax-free for her members. Even better, the Church in Nigeria does not pay government taxes on her financial resources but at the same time, they can earn interest on her financial investments.
It is quite possible that some of the biggest denominations generate more financial resources than some of our states.
It is quite clear that the church is well positioned to lead the task of building a developed Nigeria. The next part in this series will look at the various ways the church can utilize her influence to accelerate nation-building.
Do you agree the church can play a leading role in nation-building?