1.1 Background to the Study
Proverbs 14:28; Acts 4:13 established it that God is interested in Church growth and at the same time piety of every member of the Church. Hence, Christians are required to exhibit all the embodiment of godliness by modelling their lives around Jesus Christ. The rapid increase in the number of Churches in any society must therefore be corresponded with developing interest in the fear of the Lord for a godly living in order to ensure societal development. Christians are supposed to live exemplary lives of Jesus Christ (Matthews 5:13; John 1:5) that should warrant a just society, free of crime and encourage economic growth. That is why the above scriptures describe them as the light and the salt of the earth.
Two passages in the New Testament give me tremendous amount of joy. First is what Jesus Christ says in John 10:10: I have come to the world in order that you might have life, and to have it more abundantly. The second passage comes from Mark 1:15: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is among you. We may be wondering the relevance of these scriptural passages for the topic and in the field of economics. Without delving into the exegetical analysis of these important texts, suffice it to be mentioned that they underline the fundamental stance of the church vis-à-vis the world, the society and mankind in general. According to Anozie (2007), a church is a group of people or persons called out or set apart, sanctified or redeemed from the shackles and sorrows of this evil world to serve God‘s purpose in any human society like ours with exemplary life worthy of the divine calling, in honest manifestation of other virtues like humility, patience, meekness, forgiveness, tolerance, unity, love, faithfulness, justice and truthfulness.
It is both a theological travesty and also a human anachronism to see the church as a withdrawn community, unconcerned with the privations and problems of the contemporary society. Hence, Ajayi (1965) opined that social reform is instrumental in the preaching of a new religion. There is no doubt that certain elements within the church circles undermine the positive impacts of the church towards the economic growth of nations. Such groups of people have encouraged the wrong notion that the church and the kingdom of God are synonymous with poverty, want and need, if you can excuse a conical play-on-words. Can a kingdom succeed in poverty? If Jesus talked about the kingdom and talked about abundant life, it follows that the movement of which he was the originator must champion the crusade for economic development and social change.
Whatever may be the historians‘ raison detre with reference to the reformation; it is an incontrovertible fact that without the economic and social deprivations of the German populace, Martin Luther‘s appeal probably could not have stirred the German people. Of particular importance was his appeal to the German common people and the consequent peasant revolt. Germany was in need of economic change and they saw in Luther the one means of developing their economy and improving the social lot. This illustration tries to sensitize us to the particular stance of Christ that his mission was to improve the lot of men.
In Nigeria, unemployed and underemployed numbers constitute the major percentage of the population and their importance to the present and future development of the nation cannot be underestimated. The political bureau (1987) observed that in the context of Nigeria’s historical experience the term refers to those between 6 – 30 years (youths) and those within this age group form about 56 percent of the population. Antanwu (2010) explained further that they are “that part of the society that have departed from childhood and are entering a new phase of adulthood to grapple with the reality of their society”. It is a period of great biological and physiological changes in the life of an individual, internal stress, strain and crises. At this stage youth could be a problem to parents, teachers, the church, institutions and the government if they are not handled well. According to Iremeka (2007) it is all about working with youth to help them acquire the needed knowledge and then develop necessary skills, competence and attitudes which will make them become active agents in their society rather than victims of societal development and changes. It is therefore the duty of every religion organisation about positively affecting their present position for good and making them contribute to the general development of the society. It is on the basis of this that this study seeks to examine the impact of Churches on the economy of Nigeria by using selected churches in Ikeja, Lagos, as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
No doubt that the current Nigerian economic system is in shambles and currently experiencing economic hardship which has made the poverty to deeply penetrate the society. Most of the lower men in our society today lack almost all the basic things needed for a better standard of living such as meaningful employment, good balanced diet, good health care services, clothing, affordable education etc. all these are caused by non-functional economic system.
In a bid to develop and empower people for community development participation, the entire church need to partner with other stakeholders to co-ordinate and organize empowerment programmes aiming to integrate beneficiaries into crucial tasks of the community development and also be useful for kingdom works. Such programmes like training youth on life skills, community participation programmes, income generating programmes, talents management programmes, can easily improve their self -esteem, self confidence, and self acceptance in the society. According to Chigunta (2002) Initiatives of promoting youth empowerment programmes require an acceptance of youth as partners in the process such that youth development could be taken as an integral part of the strategic vision and plan of the church as an organization. The less privileged and the needy need to be warmly accommodated in the society through various empowerment programmes that will raise their standard of living and encourage them in the kingdom works. This is a task for the church in our society.
A controversy whether or not the Church should involve herself or play any role in the socio- economic affairs of the society often arises. While some have argued on the one hand that much involvement may jeopardize the Church’s spiritual status as the ecclesia (the called out people of God), others, on the other hand, have shown that being too distant calls into question the Church’s self-understanding as the light, salt and moral beacon on the earth (Callaway 2011). It will seem more appropriate to take a reconciliatory or midway position that while she is not expected to become an economic organization, the Church has a substantial role to play in economic growth and development of a nation.
1.3 Research Objectives
The general objective or main objective of this study is to examine the impact of Churches on the economy of Nigeria by using selected churches in Ikeja, Lagos, as a case study. The specific objectives are:
i) To examine the roles of Christian church on economic development inNigeria.
ii) To investigate the hindrances to the role of the church towards economic development inNigeria.
iii) To understand various economic systems operated in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
i) What are the roles of Christian church on economic development inNigeria?
ii) What are the hindrances to the role of the church towards economic development inNigeria?
iii) What are the various economic systems operated in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The followings are the research hypotheses to be tested in this study:
i) There is no significant influence of Christian church on economic development inNigeria.
ii) There is no significant correlation between Christian church and unemployment reduction in Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of Study
This study investigates investigate the impact of Churches on the economy of Nigeria by using selected churches in Ikeja, Lagos, as a case study, therefore it is significant because it will contribute to the body of knowledge in the area church growth and economic development. It will also be significant to the government as they will be able to see the positive contributions of church towards the economic growth of. The finding of this research study can be used as a foundation base for further research on the same field.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study will be carried out among the members of selected churches around Ikeja Local Government Area of Lagos State. The study will aim to capture the attention of the young people, parents, and clergy on specific programmes that can create basis for their retention in the church which can lead to the development of the churches and the economy of Nigeria as a nation.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
The Major Limitations of the study are:
Cost Limitation: There was a cost limitation. This means that we could not offer any gift or monetary incentives for the respondents to answer the questionnaire. This might have resulted in certain prospective respondents choosing not to respond to the questionnaire. This might not have created a motivation among respondents not to take a chance to give opinions. Time Limitation: There are two types of time limitation faced during the study. The study was done for a period of four weeks. Hence the results would reflect the impact of the time constraint. The insights of the unemployed youths were observed during the period of study. A more extensive study conducted over a larger time period or during a special period of time like when there were higher numbers of issues, can include insights from unemployed youths over a broader time period and can bring in further depth into the research.
1.9 Definition of Terms
The following terms were used during the cause of the study.
Church: is a community of believers in the Lord, Jesus Christ. It represents a microcosm of the larger society to which it is called to mirror the love of God as demonstrated in the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus. The church is also called to serve humanity through the love of God that it has received and shares with other members of the society.
Empowerment: is the process of obtaining the basic opportunities for marginalised people either directly through those people or through help of others who share their own access to these opportunities. Empowerment also includes encouraging and developing skills for self sufficiency with a focus on eliminating the future for charity or welfare in the individuals or the group.