Is the Church losing its Impact and Influence on Modern Society?
12/8/2009 6:44:31 PM -
It is an undeniable fact that the Church in Ghana has played and continues to play a significant role in nation building through character formation, provision of social services such as schools, clinics, hospitals; agricultural extension and, above all, winning souls for the kingdom of God. Besides, it has promoted cooperation and unity among believers, built the body of Christ and, to a greater extent, played its prophetic mandate as the voice of the voiceless and moral conscience of society.
As 2009 rolls over, believers in this nation have every reason to celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God for the life of the Church as an institution particularly the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Ghana Pentecostal Council, the National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches, the Council of Independent Churches and the International Council for the Clergy.
Indeed, we, as a nation, must continually praise God for His abundant blessings including the resounding victory of the 2009 Under 20 World Cup tournament, the visit of President Obama, commercial quantities of oil found, successful general elections, and the relative prevailing peace even in the face of global economic crunch, making Ghana one of the shinning stars on the African continent.
While recounting and celebrating the goodness of the Lord, all serious-minded and well-meaning believers must be concerned about the total breakdown of our social fabric with visible manifestations of indiscipline, injustice, neglect of parental responsibilities, dishonesty at work places, immoral and pornographic adverts on our TV sets, drunkenness, marital unfaithfulness, indecent and horrible dressing among the youth, 'sakawa' and the strong desire to become rich overnight, armed robbery, bribery and corruption, drug menace, sexual immorality, examination malpractice, reckless driving on our roads just to mention a few.
The rapid social change triggered by the abuse of information communication technology, globalization, trade liberalization, and modernisation as well as the blind copying of western cultures and values are all negative factors undermining the traditional role of the Church in forming individual character for both personal fulfillment and as responsible citizens.
The reality is that the Church has failed to help individuals see patterns of meaning and purpose in the psychedelic changes in which they are caught up so that change may become an opportunity rather than a threat.
Undoubtedly, the role of the Church as the light of the world and the salt of the earth becomes questionable especially when about 70 % of the total population profess the Christian faith amidst the increasing rate of social vices that have bedeviled our nation.
It is very difficult nowadays to tell the difference between a believer and a non-believer since both persons share and exhibit the same worldly values in their day-to-day social, public and private lives.
What even makes the situation worst is the unscrupulous, fake and mushroom churches which, under the guise of religion and freedom of worship, are taking advantage of the ignorance of the people and the desperate need for spiritual, emotional and economic relief to contaminate the scared and prophetic mission of the Church. Thus the Church is losing fast its impact and influence on society.
Put differently, the standards of the world with its corrupt, pervasive and deceitful practices are gaining deep roots in the Church. the Good Book
The challenge now is how to address this disturbing phenomenon? Some few suggestions have been made for a critical and sober reflection:First, there is the need for sound biblical teachings in our churches since the Good Book says my people perish because of lack of knowledge.
Christians must really make time to study the word of God under the auction of the Holy Spirit in order to know and abide by the truth.
Our social and private life must be informed by the Christian faith, values, virtues, ethics and principles as demonstrated by Daniel and his friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) during their encounter with King Nebuccadenezer and Joseph when he was seduced or sexually harassed by Mrs. Potiphar.
One can easily tell where Daniel and Joseph belong on the basis of their faith, damning the consequences of their action.
Most Ghanaian Christians are very religious in terms of lip services and participation in divine ceremonies and sacraments but very hypocrite in terms of practical demonstration of the Christian faith.
As ambassadors of Christ, we are to let our light shine before all people so that they may see our good deeds and give glory to God. It is important to state that in addition to the ministry of 'prosperity and direction' which are the order of the day, the Church must rigorously intensify its teachings on purity and bible-based life style.
conduct of pastors
In relation to the issue of false prophets and unethical conduct of pastors which have characterized the religious landscape, the Christian Council of Ghana should consider spearheading the process of establishing a National Religious Commission (like the National Media Commission) in order to regulate the emerging strange behaviours within the ministerial profession.
It must strongly be emphasised that because of the unique role and non-partisan nature of the Church, politicians should not, under no circumstances, be allowed to regulate and control the conduct of the Church otherwise the nation is heading for doom.
Second, the Church must work to arouse the indifferent, to open the eyes of the blind to the suffering, pain and injustice which surround the masses. I am not talking about vapid morality, but one which is made relevant and concrete by intellectual engagement with hard facts. The Church finds it difficult to maintain a prophetic stance in the face of relentless pressure coming from greedy and selfish politicians, policy makers and duty bearers.
Contrary to the action taken by Peter and James before the Sanhedrin, it is very sad to see most of our Church Leaders being easily tamed, hypnotised, anesthetised and made comfortable by social prestige and success while majority of their followers wallow in abject poverty.
The Church has a special responsibility of arousing holy impatience with all forms of injustice and of extending people's horizons to see new areas and forms of injustice.
Let me be quick to say here that the Church must learn not only to say no to government, but also how to endorse and support those government efforts which foster development.
To effectively play this advocacy and lobbying role, the Church needs greater understanding of the structures of power in modern society to be able to devise specific strategies for influencing these centres and decision-making.
If one cannot exert influence at these centres, then his influence on social change will be minimal.
advocacy role of the Church
While this advocacy role of the Church may be unpopular and uncomfortable with some Church Leaders on the account of meddling religion with politics, we must not lose sight of the fact that there is no service without sacrifice or purification without contamination and these are the heavy prices to pay for participation and relevance; for the cost of irrelevance is infinitely higher.
Third, the Church must support responsible individuals who, for solid reasons, take unpopular social positions. The Church must give moral support to those who fight for greater social justice and equity.
Many reformers are callously oppressed and labeled communist simply because they are seen as nuisance for the ruling powers. Deviants from the status quo who seem to threaten vested interest are always victimised not because their ideas and sentiments are wrong, but because they are socially heretical.
In such circumstances, the Church may have the responsibility not only to defend the individual in question nor defend this right to be different, but also to develop and publicise social doctrines which give intellectual support and credibility to social reforms.
Lastly, the all Pastors' Prayer Session held at the Calvary Baptist Church (Kwame Nkrumah Circle) during the National Week of Fasting and Prayer for the 2008 general elections should be continued for the nation on quarterly basis both at the national and district levels.
In conclusion, it is abundantly clear that the forces of evil and sin are continually eroding the Christian values in the Ghanaian society and it is time that the Church reflects prayerfully on its activities, life style, conduct and behaviours alongside its mandate as the light of the world and the salt of the earth. It is hoped that the above suggestions will help re-awaken the churches from their slumber and be empowered to be an instrument of positive change in our society even as we prepare for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May I seize this opportunity to wish all readers a Happy Christmas in advance and a Prosperous New Year.