Francis Bola Akin-John, a church consultant, has said many church founders in Nigeria will go to jail if the government decides to enforce its laws on setting up a church.
He said this in an interview published by Church Times on Sunday.
Asked about the move by the Financial Reporting Council’s move to regulate activities of churches some years ago, Akin-John, also founder of Church Growth International Ministries, said: “The Financial Reporting Council was about doing the right thing. Unfortunately, they also went to the extreme. Their move was politicized by fathers in the faith. The problem of the church in Nigeria is that it is heavily being influenced by political leaders.
“By the way, there is nowhere in the Nigerian law that sets up churches that the headquarter church is given the kind of power that it has. The law gives the local church autonomy. But the indigenous Nigerian churches find a way around the law.
“They use the laws of the church to set aside the government law because the government law gives a window for that. But in actual fact, the law for setting up a church in Nigeria is similar to that of the US and UK but they are not being followed to the letter.
“If the Nigerian government wakes up today, most church founders will go to jail. Many of them have ulterior motives in setting up the church. They set up branches of their churches and before long they are asking those branches to send as much as 80 per cent of their income to the centre. That is ungodly and a smart way of stifling the local church. The root of the problem in the Nigerian church today is their disdain for the local church.”
Akin-John advised churches to return to the Bible and operate their churches with the fear of God, saying each local church must not be made to remit more than 10 per cent of its revenue to the central church.
He said the parent churches use productive pastors from local arms to develop other places by transferring him to places where development is needed. He said such churches often dump the pastor when he is old and is of no use to them.