Activities of Pentecostal pastors and their spouses have continued to generate reactions from a cross-section of the populace. Many people have questioned the activities of latter day ministers, especially women, who appear to be taking the lead in ministration.
Not a few people have expressed reservations about the activities of Pentecostal Churches, especially, the ministries run by couples. According to them, the activities of this ministers make their calling suspect.
In time past, it was unusual to find female clerics leading congregations and where they existed, they played complimentary roles but it has almost become the norm to find female General Overseers of Churches.
With the spread of Pentecostalism, female clerics have taken over the pulpit.
However, even the early Pentecostal Churches did not allow females to stand on the pulpit but their liberalism and deviation from the strictness and the rituals of the orthodox churches paved the way for them. The orthodox Churches adhere strictly to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 “let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as saith the law”.
However, with Pentecostal Churches run like sole proprietorship, in the event of death or incapacitation, the wife or heir of the General Overseer takes over ownership of the Church.
Such situation has paved the way for female preachers to take over ministries hitherto run by their spouses.
Some Nigerians have also expressed concerns about the influx of Nollywood stars in ministration.
It is common these days to see billboards advertising church programmes graced by Nollywood actors, each church trying to outdo the other with the array of stars they attract.
However Evangelist Rose Bulus, of Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN) described the development as a reform of the ministry against the old order.
“It is a reform. Looking at the first century Christianity or Church, it is expected and assumed that women were not as educated as they are now. Education is seen as a very important factor in the role that women play today especially in the Church. The major advancement of the roles women play today in Church is the fact of the call of God on their lives, for Jesus came and died for the salvation of the entire human race; for men and women,” she said.
She further explained that the area of contention in the Church is the area of spiritual authority, order and leadership. “There are two sides to this coin. There is a side that says women must keep quiet in the Church, if they have anything to discuss or ask, they should ask their husbands. So many people used this, that women should not play key leadership roles so as not to teach their husbands as pastors in the church.
While others say in as much as God calls people to service, He has the authority to call whomever He wishes to do His work. If God can use a donkey in the bible to do His work, so he can use any body irrelevant of the gender,” Bulus stressed.
The cleric further noted that, “So long as the world remains, this school of thought will remain with us. One of the reasons in the first century Christianity is the fact that women are more given to emotional outburst, so domestics emotions will be transferred to Church work and this will adversely affect Christianity. Arguments have it that women also go into ministries because Churches are very lucrative, then men should be the main accountable party because they are the bread winners. There are men that will go into ministry because of money not women; women are more discipline and more composed than men.”
She added that the issue of money should not even be used as a basis for women going into ministry; it is the issue of God’s call on women’s lives.
Bulus however said the fact that someone said she is called does not mean she is.
“Every minister of God must pass through a process for proper evaluation and confirmation if really the person is called by God or not. Every minister of God must be groomed by a senior minister of God.
“Elisha was groomed by Elijah, and Joshua was also mentored by Moses.
The bible says we should not be in a hurry to lay hands, which is to commission a person into the service of God.”
Another dimension of women in ministry is in the aspect of a women taking over after the death of their husbands as heads of the churches.
Bulus explained that if men and women are partners in all government ministries, even in politics, so what happens if they are also together in the house of the Lord? She said gender should not be a factor as there are women who are called by God and they are naturally endowed with the spiritual power of God.
She made it known that in the olden days when they say women should keep quiet in the Church, it was a personal letter Paul wrote to Timothy because women that time were causing problems in the church and it was to correct the problem that was going on that particular time. “Paul wrote different letters to different churches according to what was going on in the Church. If women are to keep silent in the Church, that means they will not belong to any department even in the choir where they sing and that means the women’s gifts will be a waste.
“Many women were used greatly in the ministry of Jesus Christ, people like Mary Magdalene and Phoebe, who was even a deaconess. Although in the olden days women were not considered in the ministries, but the bible says there are no men or women in the sight of God so women should be allowed to preach the Gospel because it is the same Lord, the same master that gives the gift to work for Him.
“Although men are sometimes discouraged to listen to women preaching, we keep pressing forward and encouraging them that we need to exercise the gift of God in us because if there is a gift of God in you, it will pave ways for you and you will become a blessing to people’s lives, even men,” she explained.
Pastor Mrs.Evelyn Ayoade of Towers of Grace Prophetic Church Bwari said the bible enjoins Christian’s to put all spirits to test, saying many women especially with the gift of prophesy were not called.
She then narrated the story of a Prophetess in Bwari that went to Ijebu and collected some powers which she used to prophesy to people, to make money.
“She preaches prosperity to the point of absurdity, and her followers have come to accept this as normal.”
According to Ayoade, members donate cheerfully as they have been told and firmly believe that this will open the gates of heaven to unleash unlimited prosperity, without minding that some of them cannot afford to feed themselves.
“She claimed she can cure all types of diseases through prayers and the use of items such as anointing oil and handkerchiefs.
“The disastrous consequence of this is that people often die from their diseases without ever going to hospital having believed this fake prophetess.
“She was exposed when she collected money from one Mrs. Grace Adeola telling her that madness is inherited in her husband’s family that she can reverse it. Eventually Mr. Adeola died while in her church and the woman was arrested by the police, where she confessed,” she narrated.
Pastor Ayoade says it has now gotten to a point where the government needs to consider regulating Churches.
“The government has a duty to protect its citizens from harm and exploitation,” she added.