I have a few ideas of why there are way too many churches/denominations in Nigeria.
Religion in Nigeria (insert any of your choice) is mostly fanaticism.
Meaning faith is practiced without knowledge. Faith is used to ignore, displace, or replace reality. On the other hand, knowledge without faith leads to pride (insert atheists and agnostics). Critical thinking is not common place in the Nigerian education system and it reflects in our practice of religion (cue Uche Metuh’s answer). I was recently speaking with my Dad about the ridiculousness of praying to God for things he has given us the capacity to do for ourselves. E.g. When I lived in Nigeria, we used to hold bi-annual retreats. Because we didn’t have proper facilities we used to build makeshift tents with palm leaves for youth and children camps. Then we’ll pray before and during these retreats for rain not to fall. Seriously? What if we just build or rent somewhere with a roof and we won’t have to pray against nature. It seemed absurd to me even then. I remember one ocassion when during one of the retreats it started to rain heavily. The pastor who was preaching then stopped his message, asked us not to leave (even going as far as telling the ushers not to let anyone leave), and started leading a prayer session for the rain to stop. We were all soaked as the rain continued for about half an hour. After the rain was over, the pastor thanked God for answers to our prayers and continued with his message. I was like really? You consider thirty minutes of rain as answer to our prayers? Or maybe, just maybe, the rain had done its thing and it’s had enough. That’s Christianity in Nigeria for you. We pray for magic not even miracles when we can easily solve these problems ourselves.
We’ve come to expect little of ourselves and have instead placed our hope in miracles
Years of oppression, optimism, sacrifice, and desperation have left Nigerians with no other option but to place their faith in the unknown. When all hope is gone, you turn to God who is the helper of the helpless. The only problem is there’s only so much that the guy can do. Because we don’t hear a clear NO when we ask him, unlike when we ask the government, we have come to hope that every prayer will get a YES answer, because, well, God’s kind and loving, and he doesn’t scream no in our face.
Just like stalkers and bullies, praying Christians will not take no for an answer until they’ve been told in the firmest terms (maybe with a lawsuit or restriction order) that they’re wasting their time. Since that will never happen, PUSH (pray until something happens) it is.
The wise (or rather evil ones) have tapped into the fanaticism and desperation of Nigerian Christians
There are too many churches in Nigeria but, although I don’t know the actual statistics, I’m willing to bet that the ‘profitable’ one make up less than 5% of the total number of churches/congregations in Nigeria. But those who get the formula right can make a shitload of money in the process.
There are many churches that are only attended by the family members and relatives of the pastor/founder/apostle (response to Uche Metuh’s answer). In my uni days, there was one junction that had up to 12 sign posts for different fellowships. I’ve never been a fan of multiple denominations and I hardly believe anyone when they claim that God “called” them to start a new church. God is not an author of chaos and confusion. Breaking away from one church to start another is the norm these days and they all claim to be led by God.
There’s little to no regulations on churches
Anyone can become a pastor, evangelist, prophet, or apostle in Nigeria. Even those who clearly will be better served learning under someone else. Unregulated freedom, as often is, is prone to abuse, and that’s the case in Nigeria. Every school dropout or failed business man can pick the Bible and start a church because, well, you have to start somewhere.
I believe there are way too many churches in Nigeria and these churches do nothing but oppress their members (even the ones with the best of intentions) with human philosophies, traditions, and cultures mixed with selected gospel doctrines and marketed as true Christianity. How else would you explain holding some sort of church service 3–5 times a week and expecting all members to faithfully, and without question, attend all these meetings all year long. And they have to pay offering in almost every one of those services. Don’t they have jobs? Burnout is real in Nigeria and mostly from churches imposing ridiculous and impossible schedules on their members.
- Sunday – Worship service
- Monday – Bible study
- Tuesday – Workers/leaders meeting
- Wednesday – Evangelism
- Thursday – Revival / prayer meeting
- Friday – Free (if you’re not don’t have any other meetings
- Saturday – Workers preparation meeting / choir rehearsal etc.
- Sunday – Repeat the cycle.
If only we commit a few of those days into, let’s say, relaxing and resting from the already difficult schedules of work and schooling. Take a walk, learn a skill, build relationships, play some sports, do anything other than sit and pray in some church building. I think I’ve deviated from the question. This topic always drives me crazy. The insanity of church services – and it’s not as if anything useful or practical skills are taught in those meetings, or even practiced if taught.
Why are there so many churches in Nigeria? The real question should actually be why shouldn’t Nigeria have so many churches.
Where do you expect the miracle hunters, quick money chasers and delusion mass of papa and mama worshippers to assemble? Where will people who blame their self-inflicted misfortune on the expedient scapegoat – the devil – express such constantly with a mass approval? Have you forgotten the power of the “daddies” and “mummies”? – who can change fortune with prayers laced with twisted tongues in hurrying time?
After going through this sort of hardship or earthly hell in Nigeria where do you want people to take solace while anxiously hoping to make the heavenly heaven? Where do you want the money “doublers” to rally – those who pay a hundred naira offering with “faith” that someone is going to offer them a job in Shell even though they never applied or qualify for such position in the first place.
Or where will hypocrites rally with their sanctimonious coats? Show me where we can freely wish others – our imaginary enemies death/harms freely if we don’t have as many of these churches nearby. How are we going to be able to make some mega-rich with the few that we muster through the offering? Where are we going to be able to purchase hope with a tithe – if we don’t have these much of churches? Where will give us room to lie to ourselves that we are holy when we clearly know we are not…where else will people go to on Sunday lest they are tagged a “devil” – where?
I am Christian – the one Jesus defined as love for God, and love for man. Thanks