Nigeria: A Little Bit Of History…

One of the most profound realities in scriptures is the fact God does generational batching. We discovered this very early on in scriptures. Those nettlesome Israelites, the slave era generation could not enter the Promised Land. They couldn’t imagine the future. They were thoroughly messed up by slavery, damaged psychologically. They focused on existential – all they wanted was survival. Staying alive was an achievement. Neither could they imagine themselves pioneer nationalists. It was a new generation that did, and those were born in the wilderness, which means they were under 40. The Israelites roamed the wilderness for 40 years. The older generation was wasted.

We see the theme of generational batching in the Davidic narrative as well. We’re told David served God’s purpose in his own generation. Acts 13:36.

Unfortunately, the story of the Israelites is a painful allegory of Nigeria. And on many levels. A notable intellectual, the Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka once described HIS generation as a wasted generation. In essence, the Soyinka generation never entered the “Promised Land,” never saw the Nigeria of their dreams. And this despite the magnanimity of Benevolence on Nigeria. We had start-up capital. Nigeria has 52 mineral resources. Properly administered the nation should never know poverty. And yet there’s poverty.

There has been three generations of Nigerians since independence. The first generation was the colonial generation. They experienced colonial rule. They’re in their 70s and 80s now. Most are gone. The children of the colonial generation constitute the second generation. They’re the independence generation. They were born about the independence period. The independence generation are mostly in their fifties now, give or take 5 years. That generation came of age in the military era of Nigeria’s history.

The independence generation gave birth to the third generation, who are mostly in their late twenties and thirties now. So you have three generations. Suffice to say contexts differ for each generation and so the challenges differ.

For the colonial generation their ambition was wholly defined by the need to replace the colonial masters. It’s why they relished working in the civil service in that generation. Working in the civil service was the definition of attainment for the colonial generation. You got an official car, lived in an official house and got good pension.

In that generation there were raw hegemonic tendencies, one tribe seeking to dominate the others, each tribe pushing back to forestall a second colonisation. There was tribal tension. That narrative would spill over into the next generation.

The spiritual challenge faced by the Christians of the colonial generation was largely transition from indigenous gods to the God of the Bible. Many simply settled the issue by merging Christianity with traditional African belief system. They justified the merger of Christianity with traditional African belief by resorting to a passage from scripture, albeit quoting it in aberration and completely out of context – “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:21. By forging Matthew 21:21 that generation was able to join cults, consult voodoo priests and jujucians. They gave as it were unto the devil and unto God in equal measure. They ran to demons on problems ranging from infertility to promotion at work, and they still went to church. In other words, their indigeneity conflicted with Christianity in them.

In response to this muddying of faiths a spiritual revolution arose in the next generation – the independence generation. Tunde Joda, now Rev. (Dr.) Tunde Joda of the Christ Chapel fame played a pivotal role in that spiritual revolution. He was studying medicine at the University of Lagos when he was ordained as a pastor by the Assemblies of God Church. Getting ordained as a student was radical and novel in those days. God used Tunde Joda to liberalise Christianity in Nigeria, to free the youths from the shackles of orthodoxy. Pentecostalism became generational through his ministry.

The older generation never understood this new order. They thought the youths wanted funky Christianity – “Disco Christianity” they called it, and so they updated musical instruments in churches. The orthodox churches bought jazz sets, electric guitars and keyboards. This ironically would signal the end of the tyranny of the two-storey high pipe organ. Only they didn’t get it.

The older generation didn’t understand the younger generation was searching for something deeper. They wanted to know God in a deep and personal way. They wanted spirituality. The older generation couldn’t provide the fulfilment the youth needed. Formalism had overtaken spirituality. The preachings were more or less moral instruction, but you could get that in school.

The Pentecostal churches founded by that restless generation are now facing a similar challenge. The internet era generation who are mostly in their twenties and thirties don’t believe the church is addressing the real issues confronting their generation. Many in that generation believe many ministers have gone the way of Balaam. They have therefore chosen to rebel. The debate over tithe or no tithe is symptomatic of larger concerns. And these youths have other concerns too. They’re concerned about their nation, Nigeria. What is the future?

Truth is, the theology prevalent in our churches cannot address the challenges of the 21st century; neither can it deliver the future of Nigeria. It has produced teachings that focus on acquisitive faith, not nationalistic faith. The acquisition focused teachings is why we major on the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 and not the nationalistic thrust of Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets in latter verses. It is not that churches don’t teach about these people, it’s just that they’re not taught in the context of nation building. But the concept of ministry is changing. Political, cultural and social contexts are ever more relevant.

The youth feel the older generation and the establishment has failed them. There’s a sense of hopelessness and despair permeating that generation. The church needs to address this sense of hopelessness in that generation and on a thematic scale.

Now, one of the most notable things about God is his fanatical focus on his programme. In that regard he gives each local generation an assignment. When God gives a generation an assignment and that generation fails to work according to spec or refuses to rise up to the challenge, he raises up another generation to do his work. Or he goes elsewhere.

It’s why God recruited the then new generation to take up the gauntlet for Nigeria. The tripartite orthodox establishment wasn’t getting it. The “Pentecostal” movement actually started as “CU” – Christian Union fellowships, first in primary and secondary schools, and then in universities. The inflection point was recruitment of undergraduates into ministry. In essence, God raised a new generation to carry out his programme. They would take an entrepreneurial approach to God’s work. It’s why Pentecostalism spread fast. That generation propelled the “faith” or “Word” movement in Nigeria, creating a new denominational genre. Though in truth “Pentecostal” is a misnomer. Pentecost is an Old Testament feast.

But what the independence generation seems to forget is that they were recruited by God as teenagers. They were mostly 16-19year olds when they got born again. God has always been interested in young people. God has always used young people for exploits. Meshach, Shadrach, Abednego and Daniel were practically teenagers when they came to Nebuchadnezzar’s attention. Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful ruler of his day.

The youths are searching for something deeper, something meaningful, something real and shorn of formalism and grandiosity. They are looking for a new meaning of church. Just like their fathers’ generation did.

Without a doubt there’s something afoot in the church. There’s a new move of God and it is generational.  The new move is signalled by the rebellion against the present order in Pentecostal churches. It doesn’t have a definition yet, but that will emerge. Unfortunately, some clergy are refusing to don their Issachar cap.

There’s a distortion in the church. The church is running a ministry of one rather than a ministry of many. There’s the wrongly held belief the pastor is the called one and everyone else is an enabler. There’s also the wrong-headed belief pastors are the only anointed, hence the popular retort, “Touch not my anointed.” 1 Chronicles 16:22, Psalm 105:15. Incidentally, that phrase was used in reference to the whole of Israel. Every Christian is anointed. “I’ve written to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. But they’re no match for what is embedded deeply within you – Christ’s anointing, no less!…” 1 John 2:26-27 MSG.

In God’s blueprint the pastor is the enabler, the people are the called. But we’ve turned it upside down. Jude 1:1, Romans 1:6, Romans 8:30, Galatians 1:6, Ephesians 4:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:11, Hebrews 3:1, 2 Peter 1:10.

Jesus democratised ministry – he turned lay men, professionals and entrepreneurs into ministers. He gave laymen access to the electrifying power of the Spirit, and enfranchised the man on the street with the power of God.  Now, everyone can preach. Everyone can lay hands on the sick, and they’ll recover. Everyone can receive the gifts of the Spirit. This was what the independence generation discovered. How soon they forget. And so it was that all over campuses in Nigeria, the then teenagers were casting out demons, laying hands on people to receive the baptism of the Spirit, praying for the sick, and preaching the gospel door to door.

But now we run a central control system that disenfranchises the individual from doing God’s work. It is spiritual communism we practice. The church does everything – from deliverance, to evangelism, to healing the sick, to baptism in the Holy Spirit. And by church is meant pastor. Everything takes place inside church. It is so Old Testament.

In the Old Testament the priests served INSIDE the Temple. In the New Testament however the priests serve OUTSIDE the temple. The work is not in church. It’s in the society. God changed the definition of church from a building to a biological collective. God is no longer dwelling in bricks and mortar, he is now dwelling in humans. 1 Corinthians 3:16.

Church in essence is a multicultural network of capacitated humans serving God in society with the Holy Spirit supplying vitality and intelligences.

If we don’t abide by God’s blueprint distortions will arise, as we evidently see in Pentecostal circles. We need to go back to the blueprint.

Every Christian has a ministry. Every Christian has a purpose. It’s the work of pastors to purpose individuals, and to develop capacities. The pastor is HR consultant. Ephesians 4:11-12.

Every Christian is supposed to preach the gospel. Every Christian can lay hands on the sick and the sick will recover. Every Christian can cast out demons. Every Christian can baptise in the Holy Spirit. Mark 16:17-18.

When last did you preach the gospel to someone by the way? Mark 16:17-18.

If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”

© Leke Alder |

Every Christian is supposed to preach the gospel. Every Christian can lay hands on the sick and the sick will recover. Every Christian can cast out demons. Every Christian can baptise in the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet