Summary of Research Findings by UNIJOS Centre

The following is a summary of findings from the Nigeria Pentecostal and Charismatic ResearchCentre based in the University of Jos related to the three major research questions.

1. What are the distinctive characteristics of the spiritual practices and experiences of     Pentecostal and charismatic Christians?

    A. Dramatic Preaching. Dramatic preaching is widely practiced by Pentecostals. Young         people prefer dramatic lively preaching. Interestingly, some older Pentecostal and         Charismatic churches are replacing dramatic style preaching with a teaching style.
    B. Prophecy
        1. Most Nigerian Christians believe in predictive prophecy. There is little difference             between Pentecostal’s belief (70%) and that of mainline churches (72%) but Africa             Instituted Churches (AIC) have the greatest belief in predictive prophecy (95%).
        2. There is a substantial difference between the manner in which prophecy is given. In             Pentecostal/Charismatic (P/C) churches, 84% believe prophecy comes in the first             person “I the Lord say to you” whereas 97% of those in AIC churches believe             prophecy comes in the third person “The Lord is saying to you.”
        3. Prophecy can take many forms in Pentecostalism. Some of the more dramatic ones             are prophetic offerings (such offerings provided greater assurance of a positive             response), prophetic harvest (blessing by the prophets for greater yields), and even             prophetic kisses (designed to keep husbands from straying), and prophetic projects             (the giant building projects implemented by the Living Faith in Ottah and the National             Temple of the Apostolic Church were said to have been conceived through prophecy.)
        4. Many respondents affirmed that both in Pentecostal and mainline churches, there is             growing suspicion of the activities of prophets and their prophecies. This is because             of materialism and sexual immorality among the prophets, frustration that in some             cases prophecies have failed and bitterness that some prophets have even cursed             their clients.
    C. Breaking Curses
        1. The need for breaking of curses is believed by 100% of the AIC churches, 87 percent             of the P/C churches but only 19% of the mainline churches.
        2. Among Pentecostals, 66% believe that breaking of curses is a specialty which             ordinary pastors cannot perform. Many AIC pastors report that Pentecostals have             come to them for assistance in breaking curses.
        3. Some specialists charge fees for breaking curses, from ₦ 5000 to ₦ 10,000.000             (about $30 to $60,000). Curse breaking is the major source of income for some             churches.
        4. Our research confirms that the ability to break curses is one of the causes of church             growth because people tend to look favorably on the ability to break curses.
        5. More women than men seek for curses to be broken.
    D. Child Witchcraft. The belief of child witchcraft is common among Pentecostals. Children         suspected to be witches are dealt with a variety of ways, from deliverance to expulsion         from home. Many have been burned or wounded in other ways during deliverance.
    E. Link with African Traditional Religions. Though there are great differences within P/C         churches, certain practices overlap with ATR practices such as separate seating for men         and women, the use of symbols (oil, holy water, etc.), and the shaving of hair while in         mourning.
2. Where precisely are Pentecostal and charismatically-oriented churches growing and     where are they not? What accounts for growth and how, conversely, can the lack of     growth or decline be explained?

    A. Pentecostal and Charismatic Church Growth
        1. The more Africanized churches (charismatic groups who prefer to be known as             ‘spiritual’ churches and not Pentecostal churches) are not growing. They are losing             younger members to the more trendy churches who replicate what happens in the             spiritual churches but in modern and sophisticated ways.
        2. Less growth was seen in traditional Pentecostal churches (like Assemblies of God and             Foursquare). They are not losing members like the ‘spiritual’ ones.
        3. There is growing influence of Pentecostalism in historic or mission churches.             Pentecostal practices in most mainline churches are led by the youth. We noticed a             deliberate effort by leaders of these churches to accommodate Pentecostal             phenomenon. This has helped mainline churches to keep most of their members. For             example, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) earlier had serious problems             with Pentecostalism. In1984 a group of young members in Kaduna broke away and             founded Rhema Agape Church which has since splintered into several churches.             However, since the 1990’s ECWA has become more accommodating toward             Pentecostalism and there has been no PC breakaway since.
    B. Urban Phenomenon
        1. The P/C movement or the New Christianity in Nigeria, whose adherents prefer to be             referred to as ‘Born Again’ is primarily an urban phenomenon.
        2. The major exception is the Deeper Life Bible Church, which deliberately indigenizes its             leadership and liturgy and plants churches in rural communities in Nigeria. We saw             this trend in Deeper Life in both Ghana and Liberia also.
         3. In the southeastern Nigeria we observed that Pentecostalism is characterized by a             plethora of splintered churches mushrooming primarily in the cities.
    C. Regional Distinctives
        1. One factor encouraging the growth of new Christianity in southeastern Nigeria is the             practice of contracting churches. A church founder recruits apprentice ‘junior pastors’             and sends them to various locations to establish branches. Those branches pay a             certain amount of money every month for a period of time. After the contract is             terminated, the junior pastor becomes the new founder/president and the process             starts over. These churches are often built around families and become family             dynasties.
        2. Growth of New Christianity in Nigeria’s Middle Belt is slower than in the southern part             of the country primarily because of competition with Islam.
        3. In the Far North Muslim politicians are more tolerant of mainstream churches. They             call Pentecostal churches ‘mushroom churches’ and are more likely to refuse their             requests to buy land and demolish churches. Pentecostal growth in the North is slow.             Mega churches are few. David Oyedepo started his mega church, Living Faith Church             Worldwide in Kaduna but later moved to Lagos. One Muslim sheikh, Mahmud Gummi             said about the P/C movement that this type of Christianity is ‘nothing’, meaning it is             not a religion.
    D. Multiple Membership. We learned that many Christians maintain membership in both P/C         churches plus their original mainline churches. We also observed that members of         mainline churches will often continue to attend Sunday services but will attend functions         in Pentecostal churches during the week. This influence P/C statistics

3. What is the impact on civil society, if any, of Pentecostal/charismatic religion? What     contribution does the study of “spirit-empowered” religion make to our understanding     of the role of religion in human society?

    A. Core Values
        1. Our research has demonstrated that there are corporate core values influencing and             motivating Pentecostalism’s attempt to impact society. These include the virtues of             love, compassion, mercy and kindness, the principles of justice and righteousness             and the theological concept of kingdom-dominion and obedience to Biblical precepts.
        2. We discovered that personal core values of Pentecostals transform people into             becoming social reformers and political activists. Some of these values are the             conversion experience, a personal spiritual call to ministry, gratefulness for God’s             grace, motivation from the example of Jesus and the apostles, individual revelations             through dreams and visions, personal exposure to social problems and the prophetic             role of dynamic leaders.
    B. Engaging Society
        1. There is a growing movement within P/C churches that rejects secularism and the             segregation mentality of earlier Christianity. Pentecostals are contesting for political             office, promoting human rights and engaging in other social activities. For example,             the current Secretary to the Federal Government, Pius Anyim Pius, is a Pentecostal.             Organizations like the African Forum on Religion and Government, the National             Institute for Transformation as well as the Centre for Values and Social Development             have all been founded and led by Pentecostals. These organizations have all             engaged in political activism by providing training and public awareness in good             governance and leadership.
        2. The Pentecostals and Charismatics have demonstrated that they are willing to             partner with the government, the people and society in general. The Guiding Light             Assembly in Lagos has helped to renovate public schools and health facilities, provide             bore holes and public toilets and provide other social services normally provided by              government. The Dunamis Church in Abuja has built a public road leading to the             church.
        3. Mainstream Christians in Nigeria have so recognized and appreciated the leadership             of Pentecostals in social and political areas that they have elected the president of             the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, as president of             Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella organization of all Christians in             Nigeria.
    C. Change of Emphasis
        1. There is a growing emphasis within Pentecostalism on the physical rather than the             spiritual. Many Pentecostals believe there is a need to improve the economy,             generate wealth, create a healthy environment and insure that people live                         meaningful and successful lives. This is in contrast to the earlier emphasis of             Pentecostalism that was largely limited to the spiritual side of humanity with such             emphases as repentance, prayer and evangelism. These social activities have             demonstrated that the Pentecostals are engaging themselves seriously in holistic             activities beyond the religious realm.
        2. There is a growing emphasis on the natural laws of God rather than the supernatural             laws. Pentecostals continue to emphasize the supernatural but the growing             emphasis of kingdom theology which stresses learning and implementing God’s             natural laws has reduced the emphasis on the supernatural in some Pentecostal             circles.
    D. Summary: If Pentecostals and Charismatics sustain the momentum of their social         activities as our research has shown, this gives new insight into the role of religion in         human society.

Events
  tab NPCRC CONFERENCE 2014           DATE:  20-24 May 2014
          ARRIVAL:  20 May 2014
          OPENING:  21 May 2014
          DEPARTURE:  24 May 2014
          VENUE:  DRACC, Sabo-Lugbe, Abuja

  tab KEYNOTE SPEAKER
          Prof. Matthews Ojo
          BOWEN University, Iwo. Osun State


 

Publications
More Information
As you know one of the outcomes that we promised in our Pentecostal research proposal was that we would sponsor a reporting workshop for Pentecostal leaders near the end of our project. We are now organizing that. We have decided not to have one workshop but two. See details above.