Deuteronomy 14:24-26, Ecclesiastes 9:11, Proverbs 6:10, 10:4, 12:24, 24:33; Proverbs 26:4-5, Matthew 5:25, 5:45; Acts 7:48, 10:34-35; Romans 2:11, Galatians 4:22-31[*24], 6:3 and James 2:17, 2:26 are also in the Bible.
There is a problem
In Ghana for instance, Christians alone constitute over 70 percent of the population – according to the 2014 Ghana Demographics Profile* – besides Muslims and Traditional Religion adherents. Ghanaians (and indeed, Africans) are very religious, and have been praying fervently and consistently; yet the country (indeed, the continent) is bedeviled with age-old developmental problems such as indiscriminate littering, ignorance, illiteracy, diseases, unemployment, stack poverty and general underdevelopment – even though the country or continent is blessed with such abundant stream of natural resources. Why is this so? And what is the solution or remedy?
In my article: ‘Why Education Has Failed Africans,’ I answered the question to a very large extent; however, I focused on the role of formal or mainstream education (Schooling) and was – inadvertently – silent on the role of the church (which apparently turns out to be the biggest stakeholder). This article (a sequel) provides the remaining right answers.
Indeed, what the church teaches has been a major cause of the problems, and even more so what the church refuses to teach. On the other hand, the solution or remedy to a large extent lies in what the church should stop teaching, and even more so what the church should endeavour to teach! In this article and the related ones, therefore, I seek to share some specifics. I will draw attention to the deep but ‘not-so-obvious‘ issues that we Christians largely overlook (and they consequently harm us) alongside the obvious ones that need to be highlighted.
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) somewhat 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, as exposed in my earlier article: ‘Why Education Has Failed Africans.’
Fortunately, the church acknowledges that the mainstream education alone cannot solve the problems 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 supposed ‘help’ she has been offering seem to be causing more harm than good.
When it comes to development and prosperity, church leaders and pastors of today predominantly preach and emphasise on ‘prayer‘ and ‘adherence to other 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, then they tend to say: “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, they tend to say: “It is the work of the devil; pray (and fast) even the more!”
These approaches could be misleading, and therefore dangerous.
I recently heard a very respectable pastor (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! Should we stop everything else and pray for solutions to our problems, since our problems are indeed many? So then, where is the place of ‘application of the intellect‘? Why then do we go to school? What is the place of research and development? Is it not the case that we do not know what we should pray for as we ought? (Romans 8:26).
The above predominant teachings of the church, and how these teachings are done with apparent conviction, are probably the reasons why a lot of the believers in Ghana and Africa are so lazy, and largely poor (well, many completely ignore Galatians 6:3 and claim that they are ‘rich’ by faith; I know). Economic productivity levels among a lot of (if not most) Christians are abysmally low, and a bane in the development of the country and continent! Let’s not even go into the levels of pilfering a lot of them do.
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 on practical exposition. Indeed, the law of belief says that, “Whatever you truly believe becomes your reality” and so a person always acts in a manner consistent with his or her innermost or true beliefs; his or her deepest internal convictions. So their observable outputs betray them!
A lot of (if not most) Christians are so afraid to venture into big ideas! 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 their innate practical potential or innate power and show or task the members to apply such to solve the prevailing problems or difficulties.
You probably are aware that every person born into this world is a genius within. Indeed, every person born into this world has the inborn potential ability to develop an idea, a theory, a company, a product, or service that will significantly improve the lives of at least 1 billion people within 10 years, and thus generate wealth beyond what one could possibly spend in a lifetime. The church must help her members to unearth this potential and more. This is what I call true EMPOWERMENT
Presentation continues further below; this is just a brief detour…
This link takes you to another insightful publication that discusses 7 Bible verses and passages that most pastors misinterpret to confuse their followers about the nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is recommended that you take a look at it when you are done with this current one you are going through. When ready you may click here to see it.
Continue with current reading below…
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 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) involved ‘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; also 2:17)
To put the thesis of this presentation in a few sentences, I would say that the church is refusing to teach members two important things:
- How to rightly interpret and apply Scriptures in their proper context; that is how to rightly divide the word of truth, and…
- How to harness their true or hidden potential so as to live highly productive and truly fulfilling lives, and most importantly contribute to ensure accelerated tangible development of Ghana (and Africa)
Whereas the main emphasis of the church today may sound ‘christian‘ and nice, they do not constitute the full message — if at all — 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 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 supposed principle they dwell on is that these acts of righteousness are being done for God, so that God will in turn ‘bless’ the doers abundantly. Again, that kind of ‘message’ is ‘incomplete’ and misleading!
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 or blessings. A few play it safe by deferring the rewards to after-life (or after death).
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 reading or researching, creative thinking, and persistent positive action – as well.
And if there is any, the blame must go to the followers more than the leaders or preachers. Well, “Pleasure-pain Trappings” are having the better part of the people; sadly.
When Bishop Theodore Bismark said boldly and loudly that “Prayer is not in the success equation. That prayer is in the revelation equation“, he was ignored. Again, when Bishop David Oyedepo said that “You can pray from now till forever, if are not a hardworking person you’d still end up a failure” he was ignored. And when Pastor Mensa Otabil also said that “It’s time to stop having all-night prayer meetings for the change of economy” he also was ignored! Likewise some other “lone” voices on this matter.
Apostle Joshua Selman says… “Many of the confessions we make, “I will be great!” I know that it is psychologically consoling, but from the lens of honesty, many people will not be great! No, they are far from it, because there is no superstition around it.”
Do we really work hard?
You are very likely to get the heebie-jeebies on this ‘hardworking’ vs ‘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 or 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 or practical responsibilities for ‘God’ to supposedly handle. That is what we imply when we are mostly preoccupied with ‘praying and observing other religious requirements’ and hardly taking the required practical action preceded by (and laden with) ‘creative thinking.’ Well, it is more convenient to pray and observe other selected religious prescriptions, than it is to ‘think!’ Thinking appears too hard for the majority!
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!” He has even gone as far as saying: “Foolish born-again Christians, who are only believers and not thinkers!” As already indicated, he had said in one instance that, “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 that we can do the latter without ignoring the former, especially 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 and 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 and pastors need to make a conscious or 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 or stages…
This is about deep revelations of what makes the true [ real ] you – an amazing being with extreme power or abilities; as opposed to the ‘regular’ person you have allowed yourself to become. And how to use that great power or abilities already present in you to achieve breakthrough solutions and amazing results.
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… The simplest and most effective way to direct your Emotions to work positively for you so as to be on top of your world all the time no matter what happens around you Why you need so many people around you in order to achieve truly great and significant success; how to get the people to be exceptionally happy being around you, and how to get them to cooperate with you and with one another at their highest levels of efficiency and productivity; all with relatively little effort on your part How you can easily get more things done in a month than you or most people could ordinarily get done in a year; without stressing or burning yourself out Simple but exceptionally effective ways to turn your job / work into an enjoyable game for yourself while you increase productivity at the same time and get promoted faster, or get more income in a month than you or most people could ordinarily get in several months; without stressing or burning yourself out Insights into the unsuspecting ways your income gets eroded. And the most efficient and effective way of spending your income such that you are never hard-pressed, and rather, attract more income into your kitty; without stressing or burning yourself out; Simple or easy to do habits that will keep you away from illnesses or diseases and away from curative medication and save you money, time and stress; allowing you to enjoy long life in a very healthy mind and body
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 or 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 o hidden potential and contribute more meaningfully to the socio-economic development of one’s country and 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 and continent; a certain critical mass is required. So the teaching on the above broad themes must be widespread across churches and 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 or training, with practicals and 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 and Workshops for the purpose. This is about the best way to help develop the people, country and 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 or causes of problems or 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 or 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 and 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 and 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 or 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 and 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 and 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 on earth (a rare opportunity that is not available to schools; schools have the opportunity to directly influence attendees only for very short or 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 or abused!
The second crucifixion; are Christians being careless?
A sequel recommended for further reading
I cannot overemphasise the observation that, most often, Christians’ understanding or interpretation of scriptures lead them to either half-hearted action or inaction; they see God as this all powerful father who has promised them every good thing, and so all they have to do is to please him through prescribed religious acts such as prayer, giving, etc. and He would release all the good things to them. And if things are not working, they believe that it is either the devil causing such, so they deal solely with the devil through loud and commandeering prayers; or that God is saying either ‘No’ or ‘Wait.’ But are there any relevant, contextual, authentic and unambiguous scriptures to back such beliefs and the attendant actions and / or inactions? This calls for authentic translation and / or exposition of the Holy Scriptures; devoid of avoidable and / or extreme human errors. Why am I saying this? You will be utterly shocked at the revelations in the sequel: The second crucifixion; are Christians being careless?
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]