The 2019 Church Report by Alder Consulting, Nigeria’s leading creative intelligence firm, has put into the public space its measure of the perception and relevance of the church to society.
According to the Principal, Alder Consulting, Mr. Leke Alder, the initiator of the 2019 Church Report, “the church is the barometer of society, not just because it is a complete microcosm of society; the church is a societal interface, an arbiter between the people and the government. Society is invariably reflected in the church.”
Ultimately, the Alder Church Report highlights the social relevance of the church and in particular, captures the reaction of the youth demographic on burning topics such as sexuality and mental health.
The survey for the Alder Church Report, according to Alder, was done both online and offline, spanning six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
In all, there were 4,634 respondents; 68 per cent of whom were below 35 years old. The gender ratio for the survey was 58 per cent male to 42 per cent female, while 50 per cent were single and 50 per cent married.
Speaking on the high rate of depression in the country and need for the churches to join hands in tackling emotional and mental health in the society, Founder, Emotions City, Ms. Oyinkansola Alabi said depression comes in four stages.
“One of the major causes of depression is unemployment. But before you actually get into depression, there are three stages actually – you deal with cluelessness, helplessness and hopelessness and then depression is usually the fourth stage.
“There are two phases of depressions; you have the mild depression where you are overwhelmed by life and then the chronic depressions.
“At this point, if is there is no meaningful intervention from mild to chronic depression, people begin to have suicidal thoughts and may commit suicide. So, the report will help us to know where to focus on,” she postulated.
Speaking further, she said, “I function as a pastor and I have been a pastor for 16 years, so, the good thing about this report is that we need to go back to the drawing boards as pastors to say that there is no big deal in seeing a professional when one is suspected of having emotional and mental health problem. So, there is a place for prayer but there is a place where you must refer a person to a professional.”
Speaking also at the event, the lead pastor of The Elevation Church, Lagos, Godman Akinlabi said the report was a kind of motivation rather than an indictment.
“Sometimes you do things but the way people perceive them is different. And if truly we want to serve people, we need to get feedback from the people. Feedback is very important.
“Even Jesus Christ asked the question: Who do men think I am? So it is okay for the church in Nigeria to ask who do men think we are? And we shouldn’t say we don’t care about what people think if truly we are sent to lead and to influence these people, and then we should be willing to understand what their perception is.”
Akinlabi explained further that, “there is a difference between felt needs and real need. “Sometimes felt need is more important than real need. What I mean by that is that sometimes, people feel this is what they need and if you don’t fix that, even their real need, you may not be able to fix it.”
He said therefore that the responses from people as published in the 2019 Church Report by Alder, is to him, more or less from the point of view of a felt need, adding, “this is what people are saying and we should respond appropriately to them without feeling that it is an indictment”.