Leke Alder wears many hats as a lawyer, polymath and philanthropist. Alder who is the Founder & Principal of Alder Consulting, Nigeria’s leading creative intelligence firm, is often credited with introducing branding as a discipline to Nigeria and has consulted on policy, politics and business at the highest levels locally and internationally. MARY NNAH reports that at a recent forum, the thrust of discussion was 2019 Church Report released by Alder Consulting that measures the perception of the church in Nigeria, as well as its impact on society and national development
Why do a report on the church many may ask, especially as Alder Consulting, Nigeria’s leading creative intelligence firm, is basically known for brand consultancy having introduced consulting model for branding in Nigeria with the release of the first research-based brand report, The Alder Brand Report in 2001 as well as presented Nigeria’s first social media report – The Alder Social Media Report, same year.
To this enquiry, Principal, Alder Consulting, Mr. Leke Alder, the initiator of the 2019 Church Report, was quick to say that, “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.”
Alder explained further that through the church we can measure the values of society, see the perspective of youths, and identify socio-cultural mores, the level of engagement in society and so on.
“The church is not a building. It is a people collective, a reflector of mankind in her most banal state”, he added.
Therefore, Alder Consulting, he explained, “undertook the survey not only to provide the clergy a window through which they can view society, but also to provide society a window through which they can view the clergy.”
Alder however, stressed that the window is for all stakeholders – government, legislature, social workers, parents as well as youths, adding, “we all get to see one another”.
Expressing the hope that this report will help relevant authorities focus on the big issues of today in the society, Alder while speaking at the presentation ceremony, said, the report measures the perception of the church in Nigeria, and its impact on society and national development, while it provides feedback from church members and the general public, as well as information about socio-cultural shifts that affects the church.
Not just that, the church report, he said, also highlights public perception of church stewardship, use of technology and social relevance as well as investigate emergent issues of youth sexuality and mental health in Nigeria churches.
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.
Reflecting on key highlights from the Alder Church Report, which full report is available for the general public at alderconsulting.com/churchreport/, Alder revealed that from the survey, 30 per cent of the respondents are of the opinion that the Church should not be involved in politics. However, 23 per cent say that pastors can vie for public office, while 80 per cent think that churches should advocate for good governance.
The survey, he said, found that more millennials consume Christian content in digital format (e-Bible, Video Messages and Audio Messages) in the North-west, than in any other region of Nigeria. This, he stressed, speaks to a strong desire for teachings in this part of Nigeria.
Church members, the report further revealed, would like the Nigerian Church to demonstrate financial responsibility by giving back to society (81 per cent). 46 per cent would like professional financial auditing, 40 per cent would like churches to publish financial reports, while 25 per cent want churches to pay tax.
Regarding the use of technology, Alder revealed that respondents ranked the church lowest on online response time (58 per cent). Mobile responsiveness, aesthetic appeal and loading speed were ranked 63 per cent, 64 per cent and 64 per cent respectively. Other rankings include user experience (65 per cent), frequency of updates (66 per cent) and functionality (68 per cent).
On use of social media, the church was scored below average for reach (47 per cent), relevance of message (48 per cent) and audience engagement (48 per cent), the report stated further while also enlightening that content effectiveness, vis-a-vis the impact of church messages on the world, scored 51 per cent.
The survey further revealed that millennials would like the church to be more responsive to issues of drug abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, depression, rape and sexuality while the number of millennials who believe in premarital sex has risen to 20 per cent from 17 per cent (2018). This, Alder believes, may signal a mind shift regarding sex and sexuality among millennial churchgoers.
With regards to church attendance, it revealed that weekly attendance in church has increased from 42 per cent to 50 per cent, while twice weekly attendance has dropped to 43 per cent from 48 per cent.
Regarding how the church can impact the next generation, the report revealed further that millennials who emphasised “Teaching the Word”, scored 92 per cent.
In terms of current impact, they scored Financial Empowerment lowest (56 per cent), despite the multiplicity of teachings on the subject.
Revelation from the survey pointed out that there appears to be a drop in church influence on culture as it is ranked below average (45 per cent) while it was ranked 68 per cent in 2016.
To this end, Alder stressed that the church should pay more attention to big issues in the society, such as politics, depression, sex, marriage abuse and the likes, which he summed up to four big issues: politics, emotional and mental health, professional progression and sexuality.
“Progression is what would generally cause success. The youths want to succeed and so they want the church to be more involved in policies that would create more job opportunities and also enable environment that are conducive for budding business; they want the church to address the youth’s sexuality and also their mental and emotional health.
“There is a lot of depression in the country, especially amongst the youths, so they need help. Sometimes professional assistance in these areas are usually very expensive and sometimes, most of them don’t know that they need to see a therapist. For example in the area of sexuality, there are people having problems in their marriages and need professionals they should be referred to. So, churches need to set up these structures so that society can come to them for help”, Alder explained.
He noted further that in the area of politics, churches should go beyond praying for the nation, which is the spiritual function of the church, and get involved in advocacy for good governance.
“Praying for the nation is subordinated to advocacy for good governance because we would have expected that being a church, we would expect the pastors to pray more and that would be number one, but that is being subordinated.
“In other words, the people are saying that the secular and the spiritual must come together in solving Nigeria’s problems and that their prayers are not enough. They have to pray but at the same time advocate for good governance”, he said.
“Personally I receive a lot of mails from young people on a weekly basis and one of the things I have found out is that this mental health issue is major because on a weekly basis I get a mail from somebody who wants to commit suicide, which means that depression in country is huge. Now, we cannot hold the church responsible for these problems neither can we hold her responsible for the solutions. All the church can do is to intervene in the situation. There are things that only policy can solve but the people look up to the church for certain things.
“Therefore, providing this report to the church tells them where they should intervene specifically, especially in the areas of mental and emotional health, which we don’t pay too much attention to in our country”, Alder noted
Alder who noted further that the report is also going to encourage more people to study in that area of mental health, as there was an obvious need for more hands in that field, added, “some years back, when you see someone with depression, you are most likely to tell the person to go for deliverance but now, the church is recognising that there is need for professional help at that level”.
Alder has consulted on policy formulation for the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Federal Ministries of Information & Communication, Education, Foreign Affairs, and Solid Minerals Development, among others.
He has also consulted on political strategy and communication campaigns at national and sub-national levels. Leke Alder wrote the blueprint for Nigeria’s image management programme – the Heart of Africa project and was the Chief Consultant to the Federal Government on the project. He was appointed by the Federal Government to the Board of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and was Chairman of the Board Tenders Committee as well as Chairman of the Communications Committee. He served on the board for four years.
He was a member of the Steering Committee for the World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Nigeria and the Chairman, Sub-Committee on Media, Host Broadcasting & Advertising. Alder has been a member of the organising committee of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and a Member of the Board of Trustees of Day Waterman College.
He has served as a panelist at the Annual Africa Business Conferences of Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School and Kellogg School of Management.
He is the author of several books and was the host of a weekly radio business programme, Minding Your Business with Leke Alder on 92.3 Inspiration FM, Lagos. Alder is a lawyer, polymath and philanthropist. His photographs and furniture designs have raised millions of Naira for nine orphanages supported by his foundation – Leke Alder Foundation, which has impacted over 120,000 lives.