CITY OF CHURCHES WITH STRANGE NAMES

Filed in News by on November 27, 2010

City of churches with strange names
By Ademola Olonilua
Saturday, 27 Nov 2010

The city of Lagos is, no doubt, home to millions of Nigerians from diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Little wonder, it boasts a broad spectrum of religious faiths and practices.

Consider Christianity, for example. Although Christians share a common faith in Jesus Christ, some Christian organisations in the city make conscious attempts to set themselves apart from the others.

Apart from breaking away from supposedly parent bodies, one of the ways they seek to achieve this is by altering their identities, or names, and their doctrines as much as possible.

Strolling through the streets of Lagos on a Sunday afternoon, one is shocked, not only at the number of such Christian organisations or churches mushrooming at an alarming rate at virtually every nook and cranny of the city, but at the amazing array of colourful titles they bear.

“On our street, there are no signs of churches on weekdays. But at weekend, especially Sunday, you would be surprised how many churches we have. On this street alone, we have three churches. Each of them is just a stone’s throw from the other.” says Sola, who lives in Surulere.

Even as she speaks, S&S observes that on the same street, one small shop, normally used for photocopying and lamination of documents on other days, has been converted into a make-shift church with a small congregation.

However, the landlord, Alex, says the church pays his bills. It is a tidy sum and more than what he has ever made in a whole year from his photocopying and lamination business.

“When a man approached me one day and said he wanted to use my shop for church, I thought he was joking. When I found out he was serious, we negotiated and we struck a deal. He pays the rent weekly. To be frank with you, it is his church that is paying my bills. I do go there to worship sometimes,” he says.

Further down the street, one passes two churches, each belonging to different Christian denominations. The atmosphere contrasts sharply with what you are likely to find on a Monday.

However, some pastors of these denominations that are sometimes referred to as grass roots churches, explain that the reason they bear catchy names or titles is because such names are usually obtained through divine inspiration.

One of them says, “To some people, the names of our churches may sound unusual. But God gave them to us when he called us into His ministry. We cannot change such names because of what men think. We have a mission, which is to spread the word of God. The name of our church has nothing to do with our mission.”

Another pastor adds that the name of a particular church attracts people to the church. He says funky or unusual names are deployed in an attempt to attract people to serve God.

“Sometimes we employ unusual names to attract people to come to church. Humans are curious beings. When they see a signboard with an unusual name for a church they usually come in to see, and from seeing, we captivate them with the message of God,” he says.

Some pastors say they have decided to speak with S&S because they want to correct some false notions about the names they chose to call their Christian organisations. “We don’t want our names or the names of our churches to be published. We are speaking out because some people think we established our churches for financial gain,”a pastor says

Alex, who claims to be a member of Jesus is Lord Ministries, tells S&S that people often find the name of the church attractive. He says, “I was driving by this area on a Saturday when I saw the signboard. I was curious and so, I decided to find out on Sunday. Ever since, I have been attending this church and I must admit I love the preaching.”

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