The President of Church Administrators Society of Nigeria (CASON), Pastor Seyi Oladimeji, believes religious crises can only end in Nigeria if the adherents of the various religions practice what they preach. Speaking to journalists during the 3rd annual conference of CASON at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos recently, Pastor Oladimeji advised Nigerians to embrace peace as he stated that the current economic recession in the country would soon be a thing of the past. Oladipupo Awojobi was at the interview session.
Can you tell us about the theme of this year’s conference, “Increasing Ministry Impact Through Media Technology”?
This year’s theme was informed by the fact that the mission field of today is no longer about a location somewhere, with the advent of the internet because the whole world has become a global village. The mission field of today cannot be reached physically only, you can stay where you are and reach the whole world through the power of the media such as the print, radio and electronic. So, we felt we should address the issue this year.
What had been the impact of the organisation since you started?
We didn’t start as an association, it was started as a training platform, we started out to train church administrators because we found out that most of the people that set out as church administrators were not trained for it. There is no school that trains people for church administration. Most people that are performing the role, providence only thrusts it on them and again there are no materials that address the issue in our environment. When we noticed the gap, we developed a curriculum to train church administrators and we started doing it in 2008 specifically, and every year, we have batches of people that are coming and we train them.
After sometime, some of the graduates started coming back and ask if they could have a refresher course. We now felt that instead of doing that, we could organise a conference, where we discuss and address the current problems that affect the church as a body. So that was what metamorphosed into this association. This is the third conference we would be organising, the first conference was also held in this venue. We addressed succession planning, this is what people don’t want to talk about, but it happens. You find out that the founder of the church would die and crisis would ensue because they don’t plan that they would die. Nobody would live forever, one day, you would go.
Our prayer is that everybody would live long according to the word of the covenant. It is good to plan, while we are alive. We should plan how we want our ministry to be run, when we are alive before death comes. Last year, we addressed the issue of attracting and retaining quality hands in the ministry because as a church administrator of many years, I discovered that one of the challenges we have in the church is getting capable hands.
Most times, because some of the people are not properly discipled, they are motivated by money and if you are not able to pay them, they would go to another place. The Bible says, ‘where there is no vision the people perish.’ I want to say that where there are no people, the vision would suffer. If banks and other organisations can get people because they pay them big money, then the church should get better because Jesus has paid us upfront. All of us are debtors of grace and all of us must see that it is a calling to serve in a church and to serve with your gifts and talents.
How long is your training programme?
We have Basic and we have Advanced, it runs for one week intensive from 9pm to 4pm every day. We do Basic twice in a year and Advanced once in a year so that if you have two diets of basic, you can come for the advanced.
Is CASON an inter-denominational association?
Of course, it is an inter-denominational organisation, we have people from orthodox, pentecostal churches and others.
Have you measured the effects of your previous programmes?
You would not be able to measure the impact now because we are just starting. The only feedback that we have are the people that we have trained in the past, who let us know that the trainings have helped them. But, we believe that in another five years, we would have more feedback.
Which church do you attend?
I attend DayStar Christian Centre of Pastor Sam Adeyemi.
What do you think are the challenges facing our churches today?
That is why we come up with issues here, we choose the topics we discuss every year to address the problems in the church.
How do you think we can end religious crisis in Nigeria?
I don’t think any religion preaches violence. Though I am a Christian, I know that the other religion preaches peace. If the adherents of the religions practice what they preach, there would not be crisis. As a Christian, the Bible says ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ The bible did not say love only a Christian, it says, ‘your neighbour.’ Whether the person is a Christian or a Muslim or even a Bhuddist, you must love him or her. I believe that there is a part of God in every human being. If you know that this creature is representing the image of God, then you would want to do the right thing.
What is the role of CASON in addressing the religious problems in Nigeria?
That is what I was trying to address. If every adherent of every religion practices what he or she preaches, there would be no problem. Whoever is around you is your neighbour, and I believe every religion preaches this. If you do what you profess, there would be no violence. That is my own conviction. I want to encourage adherents of every religion to practice what they preach. Problem arises, when we don’t practise what we preach and we want to take laws into our hands to satisfy our own whims and caprices.
What is your message to Christians during this period of economic recession?
I believe the word of God that says, when men say there is casting down, you would say there is a lifting up. I studied a little bit of economics and I know that there would always be period of recession and there would always be period of abundance. It would go up and come down. People should just believe in God and have faith in Him that He would always take care of His children in the time of famine. We saw that there was famine in some places in the Bible, but it later ended. So, the period of recession would soon be over.