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Keywords: THE ROLE OF CHURCH LEADERS IN CHURCH GROWTH AND ITS SURVIVAL IN NIGERIA
This study is an attempt to examine the role of church leaders in church growth and its survival in River State. One can say that an institution be it academicals or religious without a leader or leaders is bound to shatter. This study became pertinent as church leaders acts as subordinates and pillars of the church of God. The rapid increase in the number of church in our cities and towns poses serious challenges for thoughtful church administrators, and leaders. The objective of this study is to investigate the role church leaders’ plays in the growth and survival of the church. The research design adopted for this study is cross –sectional survey and simple percentage analysis on a randomly selected sample of the different categories of churches (Catholic, Pentecostal and Orthodox). The study made use of a total population of 100. The sample of 40 was considered for the study, the data hypothesis was analyzed using the chi-square method. The study concluded that church leaders must challenge present religious conflicts and leadership structures of faith communities with purpose for growth, change, and survival of the church. The study recommends that church leaders should leads by examples, rather than acting or playing Christianity just to justify righteousness.
1.1 Background of the Study
Effective Church Leadership begins with knowing what to do in God’s sanctuary and doing same without being told. Ideally, church leaders are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for the church as seen in (Ephesians 2: 10). Today’s church leadership has failed to keep pace with the social revolution taking place around us. The church today is filled with over functioning church leaders who try to do everything and decide everything is frustrating the church in some areas. There is a clear indication that over trained church leaders are discouraged and discouraging as well as frustrated and frustrating to the churches. The love of many church leaders have waxed cold and consumed by the love of church treasury and income. Could this be the sign of end time?
Trained and experience church leaders tends to push the blame on untrained leaders forgetting that, God can use people with or without the natural ability and proper background. Yes! God can, and often chooses to, work with raw material. God prepares and empowers those He chooses to do His work so He does not need to call people into leadership who have the natural drive, training, or good models of leadership in their background. He does not need to use people who took the part or who are already popular. Quoting (1 Corinthians 1: 26 – 27), “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” The above scripture shows that God uses mean things to do great wonders in the world from time past. The disciples, who went on to be founding leaders of the church, were fishermen and tax-collectors by trade. They were not highly educated or from influential families. Some had strong, driven personalities but others did not.
God takes time to prepare and equips those He calls. The disciples spent three years with Jesus to prepare them to be the early leaders of the church but even still, before they were to go out on their own, they had to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them in power. God uses life experiences to mold and shape leaders. God uses life experiences to develop perspectives and passions essential to the capacity of leadership to which He calls. But most of the church leaders today have because of impatience short-circuited this preparation time. Therefore, move around in the flesh destroying the doctrine and laid now ordinances in many denominations.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Previous research has mainly focused on church growth in relation to leadership styles (Suh, 1996; Kim, 1998; Christopher, 2001). Most of the research on this topic has studied the leadership styles of senior pastors, and revealed the relationship between its styles and church growth in relation to the number of people who attend Sunday worship services. But the real situation of the current church and its leadership differs; it is an undoubted fact that the church has not had appropriate leadership both for the church itself and the world that the church relates to. The primary reason for these challenges is the lack of appropriate leadership that fits into the church and the world. Therefore, leadership and its practices are key issues in church growth and impact on the world. This study looks into the situation with bad leadership in church with a view to proffer possible solutions.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective for this study is to examine the role of church leaders in church growth and its survival. The specific objectives are:
1.5 Significance of the Study
Findings from this study will educate the church authorities and the general public in Nigeria on what the church leaders need to do or incorporate into the system to ensure growth and survival. It will provide valuable insights into existing relationship between the church leaders and the growth of church in our society. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.6 Research Questions
The following research questions will guide the study;
1.7 Research Hypothesis
The following research hypotheses were formulated to be tested at 0.05 level of significance:
H0: Church’s leaders are not following the biblical principle of servant hood.
H1: Church’s leaders are following the biblical principle of servant hood.
H0: Church leaders do not play a major role in the growth and survival of the church.
H2: Church leaders do play a major role in the growth and survival of the church.
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the Study
This study will cover the activities of churches with reference to leadership in River State with special focus on the roles and duties of the church leaders in the growth and survival of some selected churches in River State. There were some constraint that tends to hinder the flow of this study, such limitations include:
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Members Reluctance: In most cases the members of the selected churches often feels reluctance over providing required information required by the researcher. This result in finding information where the structured questionnaires could not point out.
Researcher’s Commitment: The researcher, being of full time student spent most of her time on other academic activities such as test, class work, assignment, examination etc which takes average focus from this study.
Inadequate Materials: Scarcity of material is also a major hindrance. The researcher finds it difficult to lay hands on several required material which could contribute immensely to the success of this research work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Leaders: Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.
Leadership: Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations.
Church leaders: Church leaders include the following set of leaders in church: Senior Pastors, Worship Leaders, Youth Leaders, Outreach Leaders, and Children’s Ministry Leaders, Small Group Leaders.
Growth: growth is defined as the process of increasing in size or something that has grown or is growing.
Christian: Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, who’s coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.
Church: Christian Church is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the Church invisible, and/or whole group of people belonging to Christianity throughout the history of Christianity.
Keywords: THE ROLE OF CHURCH LEADERS IN CHURCH GROWTH AND ITS SURVIVAL IN NIGERIA