The Role of What the Church Teaches
The importance of Formal Education cannot be overemphasised; especially for our development. Indeed, traditionally, we look to the mainstream education (formal schooling) for solutions to our developmental challenges; rightly so because schools (especially higher education) exist for that purpose. Unfortunately, Ghana (and indeed, Africa) has not benefited much from the pool of educated minds available to her (as earlier intimated). Many reasons have been assigned by people but they have all been short of the root cause; you may click here for my article: ‘Why Education Has Failed Ghanaians.’
Fortunately, the church acknowledges that the mainstream education alone cannot solve the problem we face (as a people) for which reason the church must play a part; except that the solution the church has been prescribing, and the unique help she has been offering seem to be causing more harm than good. When it comes to development / prosperity, church leaders / pastors of today predominantly preach and / or emphasise on ‘prayer‘ and ‘adherence to religious requirements.’ They seem to say: ‘God will do it! Pray and obey religious requirements, and everything will work for your good!‘ And if the expected results or answer seem not to be coming, ‘pray some more, and be even more religious! God will surely do it; just believe, He might just be saying ‘wait,’ for God’s time is the best!‘ Otherwise, ‘it is the work of the devil; pray (and fast) even the more!‘ This approach could be misleading, and therefore dangerous.
I recently heard a very respectable man of God (with a large following) preaching on radio and teaching that there are three solutions to any and every problem: that, the first is ‘prayer,’ the second is ‘prayer,’ and the third is also ‘prayer!’ Is it as simple as that? Halleluyah! So then, where is the place of ‘application of the intellect‘? Why do we go to school? What is the place of research and development? Should we stop everything else and pray for solutions to our problems, since our problems are indeed many?
The above predominant teachings of the church, and how these teachings are done, are probably the reasons why a lot of the believers in Ghana and Africa are so lazy, and poor (well, many will claim that they are ‘rich’ by faith; I know); productivity among Christians is abysmally low, and a bane in the development of the country / continent! Is it not the case that we do not know what we should pray for as we ought? (Romans 8:26).
Of course, many Christians believe (and indeed confess with their mouth) that ‘they are the head, and not the tail; they are above and not beneath!’ But mostly, it is not out of their deepest internal conviction because that belief is simply based on verbal admonitions and not practical exposition/demonstration in themselves. A lot (if not most) of Christians are so afraid to venture into big ideas and / or big things! Why should the fear of failure persist within believers? The church must teach and train Christians to come to a practical and demonstrable realisation of this innate practical potential / power and show / task her members to apply such to solve the prevailing problems / difficulties.
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I Believe in Prayer, But!
I am a firm believer in the power of prayer; prayer works (mostly for spiritual purposes) but certainly not an alternative to the need to take physical or practical action towards dealing with (or finding practical solutions to) our problems! When Nehemiah heard of the great distress and reproach that the Jews who had survived among those who escaped the captivity were going through, and the fact that the wall of Jerusalem was also broken down, and its gates were burnt with fire, he did not pray that God should fix the problem; he mainly prayed and asked God to forgive his people, and also for God to grant him favour before the king! The actual solution to the problem (rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem) was ‘planning and action;’ he put his mind to work, and also mobilised his people to work; through great leadership and organisational skills! And the formular has not changed!!!
Christians of today have come to see prayer as the most potent tool at their disposal, and are attempting to use it for everything (Christians of today pray and ask God to do everything, including helping their side to win football games, and other non-spiritual problems) as though prayer is the only tool they have. Are Christians forgetting that ‘Faith without works is dead‘? “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14) Abraham Maslow once said: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” Indeed, when all you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail, and Christians have fallen prey to that temptation! Beloved, we can infer from James 2:22 that, faith works together with works, and by works faith is made perfect! “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)
To put in a few sentences, I will say that the church is refusing to teach members two important things:
Whereas the main emphasis of the church today may sound ‘christian‘ and nice, they do not constitute the full message, and therefore not fully potent to yield the needed results; that is mainly why our developmental challenges seem to persist for such a long time! For instance – and sadly too – the religious requirements the followers are to adhere to (or obey) for blessings are often carefully selected and narrow in scope; mostly centred on making sacrificial services – as in doing sacrificial work – and giving funds to the church as an organisation, and / or to the pastor as ‘the man of God’), and the said blessings assured are mostly promises of earthly provisions such as cars, houses, good jobs, better pay, visas, marriage partners, good marriages, etc. This (I believe) is on the conviction of Philippians 4:19 (“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.“) The principle is that these acts of righteousness are being done for God, so that God will in turn ‘bless’ the doers abundantly. Again, this ‘message’ is ‘incomplete.’ Also, notice that in all these, the focus is on what the individual doer stands to benefit (quite selfish), rather than what the larger society would stand to benefit (which demands a higher action of creative thinking in hardwork). In any case, Proverbs 10:4 makes it clear that, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich;” but how often do believers hear this and similar kinds of scriptures; or do we ignore such scriptures on purpose? Consequently, many Christians end up having to put up with ridiculously low fulfillment rates of the leaders’ assurances of abundant earthly provisions / blessings. And if there is any, the blame must go to the followers more than the leaders / preachers. In any case, the church should amend this kind of skewed teachings to include (and equally emphasise on) all the proven practical and scientific requirements – especially creative thinking, and persistent positive action – as well.
Do We Really Work Hard?
You are very likely to get the heebie-jeebies on this ‘laziness’ issue, if you consider that a lot of Ghanaians (and Africans) throng to their work places on a daily basis; some jostling and sweating. It is very tempting to think / presume that they are working hard; No!
The best working definition of the kind of ‘hardwork‘ I am expecting to see in our lives is captured in a profound quotable-quote by Sir Joshua Reynolds; he says that: “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking;” or as Henry Ford puts it: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” And ‘thinking‘ here refers to ‘Creative Thinking;’ not ‘Worrying,’ and as Thomas Edison has observed: “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” Studies have shown that, ‘Man is in constant motion towards anything that gives him or will give him pleasure and away from anything that gives him or will give him pain.’ And So when it comes to having to ‘think,‘ we do everything possible to try and avoid it, and that includes – essentially – leaving our earthly physical / practical responsibilities (supposedly) for ‘God’ to handle; by only ‘praying and observing other religious requirements’ and hardly taking the required practical action preceded by and / or laden with ‘creative thinking.’ Indeed, it is more convenient to pray and observe other selected religious prescriptions, than it is to ‘think!’
I could sense some godly frustration in Rev. Dr. Mensa Otabil’s voice when he said: “We have prayed a lot! We have gone to church a lot! We have sung a lot! We have danced a lot! Now it is time to ‘think’ a lot!” In another instance, he said: “It’s time to stop having All Night prayer meetings for the change of economy,” and that, “It’s time to plan, to work hard and to be focused,” and also that, “Every Nation that has moved from third world to developed world had a clear plan; they didn’t hope that things will happen. They didn’t have All Night prayer meetings for the change of economy. They planned for change of economy!” I believe we can do the latter without ignoring the former (since step 3 of the 8-Step Creative Thinking process involves what can essentially be classified as prayer) but the point is that, prayers alone will not solve our problems; we need to take the right practical actions as well!
Notable Dimensions the Church Should Teach
To adequately complement the mainstream education so as to indeed bring about the needed tangible accelerated continuous development of our country / continent (to achieve one in which Rule of Law, Transportation, Healthcare, Environment, Human Rights, and the General Well-being of the people, Etc. are tops – just like in America, Europe and the the rest; and / or even better) church leaders / pastors need to make a conscious / deliberate effort to teach their members (or otherwise get qualified people to teach, or else admonish the members to seek and get to know) the principles embodied in the following broad themes / stages…
This is about deep revelations of what makes the true [ real ] you – an amazing being with extreme power / abilities; as opposed to the ‘regular’ person you have allowed yourself to become. And how to use that great power / abilities already present in you to achieve breakthrough solutions and amazing results. You may click here to see more.
This is about how some basic things in your day-to-day interactions are secretly harming you so much; why they are the most dangerous things you encounter, and what you can do to protect yourself against them
This is about how the world’s truly great achievers look at things, why they look at things that way, and why looking at things that way makes you more effective and automatically positions you for true greatness
This is about killing ignorance using the simplest, fun-filled and most effective way to learn and get the most out of write-ups and other presentations and be able to easily remember the facts / details
This is about the key to instant happiness, a stress-free and fulfilling life; one that works no matter your background or current circumstances
This is about thinking and acting entrepreneural; by employing some simple and extremely effective Zing4Life! steps you can easily follow to pursue and accomplish a great / mega vision; the main steps used by the world’s truly great achievers to achieve great accomplishments
In essence, the church should teach the latter (how to unleash one’s true / hidden potential and contribute more meaningfully to the socio-economic development of one’s country / continent and the world as a whole in an effort to fulfill one’s supreme mission on earth), without ignoring the former (how to live a morally upright life here on earth and also make it to ‘heaven’). I must however quickly acknowledge that, some churches teach some few portions of the former, but that is not enough to yield tangible results in the country / continent; a certain critical mass is required. So the teaching on the above broad themes must be widespread across churches / denominations, consistent, comprehensive – in the above most logically arranged order for best impact – and thus, conclusive. The target trainees must include the young ones as well (they should receive such training by age seven) and the audience participatory method of teaching / training, with practicals / assignments (or even something better) must be used; but certainly it should not be a normal sermon of admonitions. The church may choose to partner with organisations like Seers Foundation (Extreme human resource development NGO committed to grooming humanity for excellence and raising exceptional doers) to organise Seminars / Workshops for the purpose. This is about the best way to help develop the people / country / continent tangibly and appreciably. Again, if we Christians should lose all our saltiness, we will be fit for nothing else except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
Deny the Devil Undue Credit. And Don't Blame God!
I must emphasise that, most of the problems we face as a people are not spiritual at all; they have no spiritual causes; otherwise most of them could be solved or dealt with by simply fasting and praying against them in the name of Jesus; because the power in that name is above every spiritual wickedness even in high places! Indeed, there are seven (7) main sources / causes of problems / difficulties, and out of the seven, only one could be attributed to evil forces or demonic beings; so statistically, there is almost ninety percent (90%) chance that a problem / difficulty that occur is man-made. We are often too quick to either put it on God (We suppose that He is taking us through a lesson) or otherwise, we (often erroneously) put it on the devil. I dare say that, you shouldn’t even think of spiritual causes until you’ve sought the appropriate professional advice on the problem, and unless all the relevant and adequate professional and scientific remedies, properly applied, prove impotent for your situation; though they happen to work for other similar or same situations. Therefore, always look out for the natural causes first, and deal with them adequately in addition to prayer; don’t be too quick to assign spiritual causes to every problem.
Two fishermen were trapped in a storm in the middle of a lake. One turned to other and asked, “Should we pray, or should we row?” His companion responded, “Let’s do both!” That was wise. Take that advice!
Again, it is not every problem that is caused by the devil or some demon; No! And for such problems, God will not solve them for us (He gave us brains and other resources for the purpose), neither will he send angels to deal with them, and ordinarily such problems will also not just varnish on their own, so you / we have to deal with them by applying the right kind of knowledge or know-how; you/we have to apply wisdom! And the principles you will learn through the right / detailed teachings on the themes outlined above, will provide that kind of wisdom. If you want the best available set of resources that teach the principles, you may click here.
A necessary 'Selfie'
The church should take a ‘selfie.’ Yes, my point exactly; the church should do serious self-evaluation! Well, from where I sit, the portrait I am seeing of the church in Ghana (and Africa) is not the best! It has been activity upon activities, and what became of productivity?
It seems to have become more of a social or cultural requirement / trend to go to Church; to either please God – supposedly for favours – or get a fix, religious entertainment, psychological relief, clear one’s conscience, show off the latest clothes and other adult toys (cars, etc.), enhance networks for business and social ties or for financial support, or something of the sort; under the frame of going to worship God! But our works do not match up; we are essentially ineffective when it comes to using our ‘Christianity’ or ‘Christianess’ to bring about tangible and / or accelerated improvement in the development of the country / continent; particularly, tangible and / or accelerated improvement in the lives of a whopping majority of the Christians who religiously throng to places of worship at weekends and on weekdays. It is like ‘having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof!’ Wouldn’t Matthew 15:8-9 and Matthew 23:15 (which warn against vain religious acts) apply to our churches? And frankly, since religion is part of the general education of the people, and truly “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” a religious culture that does not aid the mainstream education to bring about continuous, tangible and accelerated improvement to the followers, need to be re-examined, and we must do so with urgency, and quickly improve; so as to curb the rising number of people who are fed up with the Church! (You may click here to read more about that.)
The need for a paradigm shift becomes even more imperative / crucial when you consider that, the mainstream education is predominantly partial education; it is able to harness up to only twenty-two percent (22%) of people’s true effectiveness and greatness in life, and the mainstream will remain this way for a very long time, if not forever. So really, harnessing the remaining seventy-eight percent (78%) potential that the mainstream education is unable to harness – in order to see significant improvement in the state of affairs in the country / continent – depends very much on what is taught outside the classroom; especially what the church teaches; or rather, what the church should teach – but hardly teaches. Remember, in Ghana alone the church comprises a whopping seventy percent (70%) of the population; even though the average figure for the whole of Africa is less (Almost 40%). These are significantly huge numbers that should make significant positive impact in the development of the country / continent if you consider that – per the pareto principle – twenty percent (20%) of the people will make eighty percent (80%) of the impact. Indeed, Christians are supposedly the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, (Matthew 5:13-14) and that places a lot more responsibility on the church.
Having such a large membership, and the opportunity to influence this large numbers over almost their entire span of life of earth (a rare opportunity that is not available to schools; schools have the opportunity to directly influence attendees only for very short / limited periods) the church remains the best hope for influencing people to positively affect the country/continent tangibly, and such an opportunity should not be underutilised / abused!
Romans 8:26 : Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (NKJV)
Demographic data* : http://www.indexmundi.com/ghana/demographics_profile.html; also http://www.ghanaembassy.org/index.php?page=population and http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/general/statistics.php [Accessed: 25 January 2015 at 00.07] and http://www.religiouspopulation.com/africa/ [Accessed: 28 January 2015 at 22.39]