The Lead Pastor of The Elevation Church and public speaker, Godman Akinlabi, has said the Church in Nigeria did not do enough for the youth during the recent #EndSARS protests, noting that it is the reason for the growing apathy towards issues of faith and spiritual fortitude amongst the youth.
The clergyman said this in an opinion piece, titled: “The Church in Nigeria: Silent no more,” on Monday.
Akinlabi said the Church must rapidly transition from a position of mere rhetoric and neutral posturing on issues of national significance to become an obvious participant in the execution of a working social mobilisation strategy for our dear Nigerian youth.
According to Akinlabi: “The nominal Christian population in Nigeria is approximately 80 million people, traversing virtually all parts of our great country. It is widely suggested that Nigeria is home to the largest collection of black Christians in the world.”
He stated that when one begins to think about this sub-population as a socio-economic group, especially when juxtaposed with the Bible’s positioning of Christians as “salt and light”, the role of the Church in issues of national significance becomes critical, vital and in many respects quite decisive.
The clergyman man said the recent peaceful #EndSARS protest was a case in point.
He noted that the Nigerian youth enunciated their pain and pleas, and these resonated across the country, but in the midst of all that was going on, there was no categorical statement on the matter from the leadership of the Church in Nigeria.
He said that to all intents and purposes, the Nigerian Church did not do enough for the youth, “no wonder there is a growing apathy towards issues of faith and spiritual fortitude amongst our youth”.
Akinlabi also stressed the need for the need for Nigerian churches to draw lessons from the #BlackLivesMatter protests across the world.
He stated that the American Church did not handle the issues of racism properly and appeared to be partisan in official utterances by key church leaders in both the build up to and in the aftermath of the elections.
He said: “The Nigerian Church needs to draw lessons from the #BlackLivesMatter protests across the world, and particularly in the USA, as well as the core issues surrounding the recent American elections.
“The American Church did not handle the issues of racism properly, and appeared to be partisan in official utterances by key church leaders in both the build up to, and in the aftermath of the elections.
“The Church simply did not walk in love towards all, often attributing opposing standpoints to the influence of the devil. Freewill presupposes that there will be differences in personal interpretations of any situation, and the American Church perhaps should have made room to listen to all, before then basing her utterances on a balanced understanding of relevant scriptures.
“Above all, with all sense of responsibility, church leaders should have asked themselves what Jesus would have done were He called upon to adjudicate in such delicate and potentially divisive discourses.”
Akinlabi noted that the disconnect between Nigerian leaders and the youth is so glaring that the nation cannot afford to keep papering over cracks.
He said the average Nigerian youth is actively looking for a chance for self-realisation in other countries and for reasons to believe in their leaders again, to believe and hope in a future that they feature in prominently.
He stated that the disconnect is made all the more obvious because the Church is not challenging the government to pay greater attention to young Nigerians, to listen, to learn and to act in the interest of Nigeria’s future.
Akinlabi advised that the Nigerian Church should be an active participant in shaping the conscience of our nation, and thus must demand to be listened to as the protectors and nurturers of this and future generations.
He said the Church must rapidly transition from a position of mere rhetoric and neutral posturing on issues of national significance to become an obvious participant in the execution of a working social mobilisation strategy for the Nigerian youth.
He assured that the objective of this social mobilisation is not a revolution in a negative or destructive sense, but a better word is “re-evolution”.
The clergyman further explained that “re-evolution” points to a rebirth of the Nigerian youth from the womb of divine values and character.
He said: “This re-evolution points to a rebirth of the Nigerian youth from the womb of divine values and character.
“A reconditioning and radical shift of mindset from a survivalist me-first winner-takes-all attitude, to a wholesome and inclusive disposition that allows useful ideas to thrive, while providing the opportunity for the most obscure of the least to become the best of the best, no matter the field of endeavour or circumstances of heritage.”
Akinlabi also urged the government to begin to move beyond the seeming systemic persecution of peaceful #EndSARS protesters and sympathisers to the expression of the sort of empathy that paves the path for healing and reconciliation, and then allows for collaboration in building a better nation for all.
He stated that Nigerians may never know what truly transpired on the night of October 20, 2020 at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos State or will a squabble with the international community serve any purpose besides providing a convoluted distraction, but the Church must demand that the government answers the question of how to make things better for the Nigerian youth of today and the future.
The clergyman noted that the Nigerian church must prepare the Nigerian youth for personal and communal leadership, for governance and strategic sectoral empowerment, as well as for fervent and effectual participation in our electoral process.
In conclusion, Akinlabi said the unrelenting voice of the Church to speak up for the weak, disenfranchised, overlooked and the downtrodden should be non-negotiable for 2021.