Him: “I know Nigerians like spirit-filled Churches.”
The Lady: *blank stare*
If you read my post on Lent, you would know by now that I am Anglican. If you didn’t, now you know. Though born Anglican, I haven’t always been Anglican – between switching Churches and schooling. Today, I can say this confidently though – “Christian by Faith, Anglican by Choice”. That’s the title of a book by Ven Funso Awe, which for the life of me I do not understand why I have yet to read it.
Yes, back to the above conversation. I had bumped into the Pastor of a popular Nigerian Church in England. I don’t think I knew he was the Pastor at the time though and that was his attempt at inviting me to his Church. Safe to say I never attended. Not so much for his approach, but because I do not care for the Church. Mind you, that was my Church for several years.
At the time, I was looking for a local Anglican Communion to attend. I find that the congregation of Orthodox Churches in England are largely white and this was my experience (feel free to correct me if I am wrong). Not only that, most Orthodox Nigerians who travel often switch to Pentecostal Churches or ones with a higher black percentage of members. For me, I wasn’t going to attend any Church based on the skin colour of members. In any case, I was curious about the Church of England and wanted to compare it with the Nigerian Communion. Thanks to http://www.achurchnearyou.com/ , I had my fill of attending different parishes and I can say it is a different ball of game out there. I absolutely love their style of worship.
Ah! The conversation! Apologies. New black (Nigerian) student so I guess I was the prime target for invitation to a black Church. His statement came after I had informed him I was Anglican and had found a parish. He told me in an off-handed tone that I could come to theirs in the morning and attend mine in the evening (at the time, I was attending the evening service). Needless to say, I found his approach offensive for the following reasons:
1. I was clearly attending another Church and he still thought it fit to invite me to his because Nigerians like spirit-filled Churches. I find it in bad taste when Christians try to draw others away from their original Churches especially when such a person has not indicated dissatisfaction with his/her present Church. How about you preach to unbelievers?
2. His misinformed judgement about Nigerians and their choice of Churches. He is African, but not Nigerian.
3. His assumption that in my old age, I do not know the kind of Church I want to attend. As a confirmed Anglican who has attended catechism, I know and understand the doctrines of the Church and would leave if I ever became uncomfortable or dissatisfied. I reserve the liberty to change Churches for whatever reason, but do not attempt to undermine my Church in your attempt to draw me into yours.
4. His assumption that the Anglican Communion is not a spirit-filled Church, whatever that means. While we may not pray in tongues and our services may be solemn, it does not take away from our communion with the Holy Spirit.
5. That he turned out to be the Pastor. I cringe when men of God disparage other Churches. Is it not the same God we worship? Some Anglican Priests are guilty of this too. I understand that doctrines differ, but even then.
I have also had similar conversations with Nigerians and it makes me wonder if being Christian is not enough. Do Christians think others who attend Churches other than theirs might as well be unbelievers? That’s the only justification for why a Christian would try to convert another Christian in my opinion. Sharing the Word is understandable and I have no problem with that, but trying to convince me to leave my Church …
I find that some Christians in Nigeria tend to be intolerant of other Churches (again, correct my assertions if you feel otherwise). Speaking of which - the idea of changing Churches simply because of marriage is one that will never sit well with me. You’ll say, but madam what’s the big deal after all it is Christ that is being preached, and I will agree with you on that count. However, doctrines differ and so does spiritual satisfaction. A couple that prays together stays together abi? Is that saying Biblical? What is your definition of praying? Better a couple that attend the same Church with one half being deeply dissatisfied spiritually than a couple that is spiritually satisfied attending different Churches?
PS: Thank you all for the good wishes in respect of my new-found job. May all our prayers be answered.