Effect of Prosperity Preaching on the Growth of the Apostolic Church Gwarinpa Assembly Abuja
1.1Background of the study
Christianity plays a critical role in social life in Nigeria as in many parts of Africa. In this period of economic crises in the country, many people look to the Church as a solution out of economic challenges. Upon this, some Pentecostal Churches now made a significant impact especially with the prosperity gospel. In recent decades, the African Christian landscape has witnessed the emergence of Pentecostal religious movements which have indeed taken the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. A section of this Christian movement advocates the Gospel Prosperity. This form of Pentecostal Christianity is said to be a variant of conservative Protestantism. It proposes that “faith is the key that openness the door to prosperity.
Given the current proliferation of Pentecostal Christianity, the Prosperity Gospel is increasingly becoming a prominent feature of Christianity. Its popularity is premised mostly on the following factors: firstly, this doctrine presents itself as holding the key to the material prosperity of its members and as being an embodiment of modernity. Secondly, it promises to provide its members with the arsenal for overcoming witchcraft, demonic forces and other malignant spirit is through the power of the Holy Spirit. For that matter, Africans consider this form of Christianity as offering them an existential hope in the insecurities they encounter here and now, rather than merely the hope for the heavenly life
Prosperity Gospel is a doctrine among the Pentecostals that God wants people to be prosperous, especially financially. Adherents to the Prosperity Gospel believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and is compensation for prayer and for giving beyond the minimum tithe to one’s church, televangelists, or other religious causes. The logical extension of the Prosperity Gospel sometimes explicit, sometimes not, depending on the preacher is that the poor are poor because of a lack of faith, that poverty is the fault of the poor themselves (Gifford 19). Adherents also tend to interpret the New Testament as portraying Jesus as a relatively rich figure who used his wealth to feed the masses on several occasions and to finance what they argue to have been a fairly costly itinerate ministry. As such, Prosperity adherents argue that Christians should model their lives after Jesus’ by living lavishly, in stark contrast to orthodox interpretations of the Gospels that regard poverty as a Christian ideal modeled after a poor messiah. In this sense, adherents believe God to be very interested in their financial status. Poverty, far from being a blessing, is a sign of God’s disfavor; thus, Christians have a duty to deal only with the apparent lack of faith among the poor and not their poverty itself. The prosperity teaching is common in Nigeria. Some scholars such as McCain hold that this teaching is responsible for the rapid expansion of Pentecostal denominations and that it has influenced the messages and practices of older denominations in the country (McCain, 34). This indicates that the prosperity gospel should be investigated and its impact on the Pentecostal Churches examined
A recent survey shows that while many claim that the prosperity teaching is bad, they demonstrate remarkable ignorance of the meaning of the concept (Sarles, 333). This research therefore will investigate the effect of prosperity preaching on the growth of the Apostolic church in Gwarimpa, Abuja.
Statement of the problem
One of the problem that have troubled the Africa Continent and Nigeria in particular in recent time is the problem of poverty, this problem is also seen among members of Apostolic church in Gwarimpa, Abuja and that brought great doubt in people’s minds whether the prosperity gospel preached by the prosperity preachers is really achieving his aims. So many scholars of diverse perspectives have written and researched on prosperity gospel from the psychological perspective, economic perspective, sociological perspective, exploitative perspective, theological perspective and so on and so forth. Consequently, the prosperity gospel is common in Gwarimpa in Abuja like other parts of the country and its impact on members of Pentecostal Churches is becoming an issue of concern. Some scholars hold that this teaching is responsible for the rapid expansion of Pentecostal Churches and that it has influenced the messages and practices of older denominations in the country. A recent survey shows that while many claim that the prosperity gospel is bad, they demonstrate remarkable ignorance of the meaning of the concept (McCain, 45). A major problem with the prosperity gospel as currently practiced in Nigeria is its effect on the members of the Christian Church. Is it fully delivering on its promises? There are still many sincere Christians who are financially poor, sick, and/or demon oppressed. For Christians who believe in the truth of Scripture, the fault cannot be with God and his promises. It must be the interpretations that prosperity gospel preachers use to justify the teaching that are wrong. Some Christians tend to believe that in the attempt to provide answers to the existence of evil on earth despite belief in an all-powerful and all-good God, preachers of prosperity have sometimes ended up creating a truncated gospel of salvation. The concern of this study is: To examine prosperity gospel, identify the impact of the prosperity gospel on members of Apostolic Church at large and to show the kind of impact that prosperity gospel has on members of Apostolic Church in Gwarimpa assembly Abuja
Objective/ purpose of the study
The objective of the study is to examine effect of prosperity preaching on the growth of the Apostolic church in Gwarimpa assembly Abuja. The study will assess the following specific objectives;
- To assess the effect of prosperity preaching on members of Apostolic Church in Gwarimpa, Abuja
- To examine the concept of Prosperity preaching with reference to Apostolic church in Gwarimpa, Abuja.
- To ascertain the effect of prosperity preaching on the growth of Apostolic church in Gwarimpa Assembly in Abuja
- What is the effect of prosperity preaching to members of Apostolic Church in Gwarimpa, Abuja?
- What is the concept of Prosperity preaching with reference to Apostolic church in Gwarimpa, Abuja?
- What is the effect of prosperity preaching on the growth of Apostolic church in Gwarimpa Assembly in Abuja?
Justification of the study
The study is also significant in the sense that, it serves as a reference material on impact of prosperity gospel among apostolic church in Gwarimpa, Abuja. The study has the capacity to contribute to the growth and development of Christianity in Gwarimpa, Abuja by emphasizing the Bible based teaching that is necessary to the genuine development of the Christian gospel in Gwarimpa, Abuja. The study will open doors for dealing with doctrinal issues that breed hatred among Christians. This makes the study significant to all: Preachers, Church leaders, the Abuja Christian community, individuals and families as well as researchers in this area of study.
Historical method was used to establish the origins and development of Apostolic church Gwarimpa in Abuja, Nigeria. Historical analysis will deal with the past events of founding denominational church, constitutions, doctrines, theology, prosperity gospel and corporate social responsibilities. Historical method will link the past to the present and the present will be enriched by past events, ideas, facts, doctrines and practices of Pentecostal Churches. Field survey was carried out through the use of a questionnaire that was used to obtain opinions of Choir members, Children teachers, ushers, Church Security Men, Youth, Women, Church Elders, Deacons and laity on their understanding of the prosperity gospel in relation to socio-economic improvement in the standard of living. The questionnaire was used to identify the ways in which the theology of the prosperity teachings has been translated into practical economic actions. The questionnaire asked assessment questions in order to obtain respondents’ opinion on the impact of prosperity teachings on the members of Pentecostal congregation. Seven Apostolic Churches was selected in Gwarimpa, Abuja. The reason for selecting Apostolic church is because, they are known for preaching prosperity gospel. A total of 30 samples will be selected from each of the seven selected Apostolic Churches and these add up to a total of 210 samples. Purposive sampling technique was used in selecting this sample of 210 respondents. Unstructured interviews were conducted within the seven congregations located in Gwarimpa, Abuja. Church leaders, pastors, elders and members of Apostolic churches were interviewed at different times and places as respondents agree to attend to the researcher. While some interview was held with individuals, other interview was held with groups. In this context, the planned structured interviews will complement the performance of the questionnaire method. Participant observation method was used to obtain data on the practical activities of the members of Apostolic churches in Gwarimpa, Abuja, Nigeria. Observation will focus its attention on the teachings of the Apostolic church. What are the economic activities being the individuals doing to achieve prosperity teaching? What are the economic activities being Apostolic churches doing to achieve prosperity peaching? What is their stand on wealth and poverty? The data that was obtained was assimilated in the discussion
Scope of the study
The study covers prosperity gospel and its impact on members of selected Apostolic church in Gwarimpa, Abuja. The study covered the period of the inception of Apostolic Churches in Gwarimpa, Abuja to 2020. Geographically, the study is limited to Gwarimpa, Abuja only selected Apostolic Churches will be covered in the study even though the phenomenon of prosperity peaching in Apostolic Churches is not limited to Gwarimpa only. However, due to vast nature of the study area, selected Apostolic Churches in Gwarimpa will be covered. This is because, these Pentecostal Churches lay much emphasis on prosperity gospel. However references were made to other places with similar problems. However, the findings and recommendations of the study could be applied to Apostolic Churches in other parts of the country giving the fact that, the problem is a universal one that applies to all Pentecostal Churches.
Operational definition of terms
Prosperity preaching: Prosperity preaching is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth
Growth: The Church Growth Movement is a movement within evangelical Christianity which aims to grow churches based on research, sociology, analysis, etc
Pentecostal church: A Pentecostal church takes its name from the Spirit’s outpouring which occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The primary distinction of a Pentecostal church is the belief that Christians can receive the same experience as the 120 did, of being baptized with the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in other tongues.
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