The Effect of Denominational Practices on the Growth of the Church

ABSTRACT: The study on the effect of denominational practices on the growth of the churches tries to find out if denominational practices have significant effect on church growth; the study also tries to identify the different denominations in Nigeria and their impact on churches; the study tries also to know whether denominational practices contribute to church growth. Primary data was used for the purpose of the study with a sample size of 60 respondents; the study concluded that denominational practices have significant effect on church growth. The study made of Spearman correlation to analysis the hypothesis. The study therefore concluded that denominational practices have significant effect on church growth and proper recommendations were made to assist in decision making and for further studies.

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

 

1.1       Background of the Study

Christianity in Nigeria dates back to the 16th century when the Portuguese introduced Latin Christianity in Benin and Warri. Looking at Christianity from that early beginning to the present time, many stages of development had taken place resulting to the planting and growth of churches.

The period of denominationalism and missionary activities started from 1840 when missionary bodies set up in Europe and America in the 18th century succeeded in converting Nigerians to Christianity and opened permanent mission stations among the people. The period was just after the abolition of the slave trade; the abolition of slave trade stimulated a fresh religious enthusiasm among the Europeans and Americans. With the support of the missionary bodies, “The freed slaves in places like Sierra Leone and Abeokuta encouraged missionary enterprises. This was a period of denominationalism when many churches from the British Isles and America sent missionaries to the coast and interior of Nigeria. The Anglicans under the Church Missionary Society (CMS), were the first but the Niger Expedition in which they came in 1841 failed. However, the first successful penetration of Christian mission into the interior of Nigeria was made in 1842, when the Wesleyan Methodists on the invitation of the freed slaves who had settled at Badagry and Abeokuta, sent Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman and an assistant William de craft and his wife from the Gold Coast (Ghana) to Badagry and some months later Henry Townsend to Abeokuta.

 

In the more southern part of the country, on the Cross River in the old slave-trading town of Calabar, the Presbyterians sent Rev. Hope Masterton Wadded accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Edgerl A. Chishalm and E. Miller, who arrived in Calabar in April 1846, to establish the church of Scotland Mission. Their work was very successful because a Presbytery, the Presbytery of Biafra, was created in 1858. The American Baptist Mission began work in Nigeria in 1850. The Rev. Thomas J. Bowen, the Pioneer Missionary, established stations at Ijaiye and Ogbomoso. The Roman Catholicism, through the Society of the African Missions, came in 1862. The ex-slaves were organized and stations established in Lagos and Abeokuta. When the Italian Priest, Father Broghero, visited Lagos in 1863, there was a catholic church in Yorubaland. The Holy Ghose Fathers started work among the Igbo of Eastern Nigeria in 1885 through Father Joseph Lutz working at Onitsha. Samuel A. Bill started the Qua Iboe Mission in the Qua Iboe River area from 1887, though it was not until 1891 that the Qua Iboe church was established as an Independent evangelical and interdenominational body.

 

Mission work in Northern Nigerian started in 1893 through Rolland Bingham, Walter Gowans, and Thomas Kent in 1904, the Sudan United Mission (SUM) joined the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) in the mission work in the North, concentrating in the regions of Adamawa, Benue and Bornu.

 

1.2       Statement of the Problem

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It is to be noted that this period was characterized by missionaries activities being based on denominations and limited to the Southern part of the country. The missionaries who came were trained and really prepared, though many were swallowed up by the climate. The language barrier that had existed was reduced to the minimum by the use of interpreters and the missionaries themselves learning the language; Trained Nigerian Ministers started to emerge; churches and later schools and hospitals were erected. More importantly, baptism was administered to the converts as an indelible mark for the new faith they had embraced and the old ways they had forsaken.

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