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How the Church has been transformed to accommodate the modern society

Updated on February 13, 2015

Imagine sitting on your favourite spot waiting for the summon, then a young woman dressed in high heels bang the floor as she enters to claim her seat and the initial deafening silence is all but gone. The whole congregation turn to catch a glimpse only to spot a person dressed in long purple dress recently acquired from luxurious Nakumatt mall in Nairobi, but the red lipstick aggravates the attention.

Before the fresh memories from this incident dry up, young lads swam the entrance clad in modern classy coats with their beards nicely trimmed up. The whole scene appears like a gala night but the serenity is what brings the contrast here that ‘this is a church’.

In the previous centuries, religious believers had distinct sets of norms assigned for the throne of God. Women were dressed up in their long African regalias commonly known in East Africa as ‘Vitenges’ as men kept it simple in their modest suits.

The bible was intact in the brief case and the children were also directed to the prevailing culture by ensuring that they expose ‘no flesh’. To add to this, most societies that pursued Christian faith in Africa had women covering their heads with their scarves (vitambaas) during the ‘holy ours’ in the church.

Normally every church has its doctrines that define how the worshippers are expected to behave for instance when singing and praying. For this, songs and dances definitely have had some sort of brinks that determine the conducts of the members. Most people who are keen observant of the behaviour change in the church can attest to the fact that there has been a paradigm shift in the way people worship God.

Churches are no longer places designed for conservatism and inflexibilities. They have however, changed dramatically to meet the expectations of those living in the contemporary generation. This seems to be propagated by the clamour for more memberships for which the churches are operating under this backdrop to register more members. So in which ways have places of worship changed, that if the dead believers resurrected then they would be shell shocked?

‘Fashion shows’ or exhibition grounds

Initially, some churches believed in giving directions on the dressing codes especially for females, but this seems to have been wiped away by the liberalization that may have crept in. Since the constitutional powers may override such unwritten norms, they appear less influential.

This means that believers especially females and young males dress as though they are going for an award ceremony to the church. The church has changed to some sort of exhibition platform, where some people put their ‘Sunday Best’ just to show how they are abreast with the fashion trends. Some churches for this may have gone slow on the weaves and dreadlocks and the scarves look like an optional thing.

The crave for fashion at times is noticeable in the way most churches lay the structural plans and build their churches. Gone are the days when people would worship ordinarily built churches and call it a day.

Picture of the Church
Picture of the Church | Source

Money minting grounds or ‘Commercial gatherings’

This is why perhaps many countries currently have nightmares in controlling churches. Because there is a feeling that the freedom of worship should not be interfered with but some individually managed churches may have gone just too overboard. In the documentary by a British journalist, Seyi Rhodes, who works for Channel 14, this is quite evident.

The documentary features a pastor identified as Dr. Sign Fireman who runs a personal church in Nigeria. He is quoted saying his juniors in training that: “God is a game...you must know how to play it well. When people come to church, they have problems so you must offer solution to their problems. If you don’t make yourself clear enough, people are not going to be enticed”.

It is an indication of how some mushrooming churches have been turned to commercial grounds where preachers extort money from the congregation under the promise of prayers and ‘blessings from God’. The other old churches may have not been spared because most have perpetual demands that the members have to constantly dig deeper into their pockets to support.

Burials, consolation and counseling

Most churches perform best the roles of honouring the dead. There is a trend that even someone who went to the church twice a year upon his or her demise is eulogized with all the virtues packaged to serve sweet honey jar to the ears. For this, some believers rush to the church to land on safe havens so that they can be accorded decent send-offs on the event that they die. The churches of today like the old ones offer consolation that is for sure doubtless.

Add this to the summons that are habouring less biblical reading and mammoth of life teachings; it is more pronounced. Counseling is another service that they provide and this mostly applies to the newly wedded couples.

Accommodating the youth

Most of the evangelist churches may have realized the need for inclusivity. Some for this have tailored their programs to fit well with the lives of the young people. It is for this that the traditional doctrines tat guarded the songs and dances may have been altered to bring in much of the current songs and dance moves for the youth. Dropping stringent rules on the attires could be another move that the initially strict churches may be resorting to.

Making friendships and meeting spouses

There is another notion that a potential wife and husband could be met in the church. This could be rather fallacious but it is one of the reasons why unmarried women and men may stock some churches. Making newer friendships and skimming for marriageable people. To this, some churches have adopted programs to organize for such special meetings that culminate in weddings.

Technology and Economic Empowerment

To the dismay of many some churches have been creative on the matters of building financial revenue sources. Investments on real estates and other income generating projects have been their thing to support the members. Lastly, most people don’t have to carry their bibles and song books in hard copies. They can get them in projectors in the church or through their tablets and smart phones. Thanks to technology, the preachers are now swiping through the chapters of the bible.

Seyi Rhodes's Documentary "Nigerian Millionaire pastors"

John Allan Namu's piece 'The Inside Story:Prayer Predators' (Kenya)

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