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Posts tagged ‘Baptist’

Pastors, Just Say ‘I Don’t Know’.

I don't know

Can you, as a pastor, admit that you just don’t know sometimes? (Stock Free Images)

The moment one becomes a pastor, something strange happens: People suddenly think you know everything about the Bible.

Twenty-four hours ago, you were like everyone else—learning the Bible a little at a time. But once you become “Reverend” or “Brother,” the expectations skyrocket.

Let’s be honest: Nothing really changes overnight for new pastors. They are still the same people they were previously.

Only two things really change overnight for a new pastor: 1) responsibility toward their congregation and 2) heightened expectations of the congregation.

Both of these changes are good. The Bible teaches that pastors are accountable for their flock. They are responsible to feed the sheep and oversee their spiritual growth (Heb. 13:17).

Likewise, the congregation is called to hold the pastor in high regard and protect his reputation (1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:19). The Bible even outlines standards to which the congregation can expect the pastor to adhere (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

But all of those biblical expectations and responsibilities do not mean a man suddenly has all the answers the day he becomes a pastor. In fact, the same man won’t have all the answers at the end of his pastorate either!

That’s why, when pastors are asked difficult questions, they should be quick to admit, “I don’t know.” Here are five reasons why:

1. Honesty is the best policy. It’s not just a cliché; it’s biblical. Acting like you know something (ie., making it up as you go) is lying. This may be one of the pastor’s greatest temptations to sin.

2. Humility is Christlike. Whether your congregation realizes it or not, humility is difficult when everyone treats you as the “Bible Answer Man.” This subtle pride for having all the answers is dangerous. When you don’t know the answer to the question, don’t let your pride get in the way. Choose humility.

3. Expectations must be biblical. Churches should have a high regard for their pastor—yet they should be careful not to set him on an idolatrous pedestal. When the pastor is willing to admit his limited knowledge, it helps congregations balance their expectations of the role biblically. For a pastor to act as if he is all-knowing is not only blasphemous, but it raises expectations even more and sets him up for a greater fall in the end.

4. Dependency must be on Christ, not the pastor. When the pastor acts as if he can answer every question and solve every problem, he is misleading his flock. Worse, he is leading them away from dependency upon Christ and more toward dependency upon him. This is the opposite of John the Baptist’s quest to see Christ increase while he decreased.

5. The congregation needs an example of maturity. As a spiritual leader, the pastor should shape the congregation’s picture of spiritual maturity. If he implies maturity means having all the answers, he will lead church members to a frustrating spiritual journey away from Christ and full of false expectations. Instead, the pastor should show the congregation an example of how a Christ-follower admits his limitations, leans on Christ and boasts in the cross.

Those aren’t lessons that are learned overnight, but they can begin to be taught today. So the next time you (the pastor) are asked which eschatological theory is correct (as if you understand them all to begin with), where the dinosaurs fit into the biblical narrative (as if you have a time-travel machine) or—my personal favorite—where a certain verse is found (as if you are a walking concordance), take great joy in saying, “I don’t know.”

After seven years of pastoring, Scott Attebery was selected as the executive director of DiscipleGuide Church Reources, a department of the Baptist Missionary Association of America. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible from Central Baptist College, a Master of Divinity from the BMA Theological Seminary and is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. You can read his blog at

For the original article, visit

Written by Scott Attebery

20 Things You Should Know About Your Church.

Measuring stick

How do you measure your church as an organization? (Shutterstock)

Below you will find what I believe to be 20 very important, if not the most important, things you should know about your church. Keep in mind these are things to measure about your church as an organization. (This is not the top things to measure in terms of individual spiritual formation.)

I have told pastors for a long time I wouldn’t consider pastoring again unless I had the congregation’s commitment to measure these 20 things every two years.

But first, the backstory. For the last 12 years, the Auxano team has developed, used and refined a survey designed completely around the culture, vision and strategic midterm decision-making priorities of the church. I have led this process by turning over and inside out every possible church survey I could find. After about five years, I felt like we had a good template to start with as we helped local churches with their specific needs and challenges.

We have never advertised, and I have never even blogged about this product. Why? Despite its incredible benefit to our church clients, we did not have the capacity to offer the service to churches unless they were engaged in our core experience, called the Vision Pathway.

The desire to bring this to more churches eventually led me to LifeWay Research. We have worked with them over the past year to bring the best survey to local churches that has ever been designed for your local church.

Here is what we measure:

1. Percent of new attenders in prior two years

2. Guest percentage

3. Profile of new attenders and guests, including reason for attending

4. Age of the church versus age of the community

5. Age of the church versus age of new attenders in the prior two years

6. Spiritual growth satisfaction

7. Sense of connection to the church

8. Giving patterns

9. Adult conversion percentage

10. Influence of ministries

11. Group assimilation percentage

12. Group assimilation obstacle identification

13. Assimilation rate for groups and membership (if applicable)

14. Serving assimilation percentage

15. Serving assimilation obstacles

16. Invitation activity

17. Invitation obstacles

18. Total assimilation percentages

19. Strategic direction question cluster one

20. Strategic direction question cluster two

What other things would you include on this list? The tool we use to get this info is what we call the RealTime Survey. Feel free to download our PDF about the survey.

Will Mancini emerged from the trenches of local church leadership to found Auxano, a first-of-kind consulting ministry that focuses on vision clarity. As a “clarity evangelist,” Will has served as vision architect for hundreds of churches across the country, including the leading churches within Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and nondenominational settings.

For the original article, visit

Written by Will Mancini

I’m a Complementarian, But… Women Can Be Deacons.

Thabiti Anyabwile

I believe answering the question “What meaningful role can and should women play in congregational life?” is as important a practical and spiritual question we can consider. It’s a question that affects at least half (usually much more) of our congregations. It’s a question that touches directly upon gospel-ordered congregational life. It’s a question that potentially restricts or broadens Christian freedom for women in our churches. It’s a question that either employs or unemploys the gifts the Lord himself sovereignly grants to our sisters.

How we answer the question must be shaped and limited by the word of God. But we approach the word of God with assumptions, presuppositions, biases, historical understandings, and personal filters. None of us come to the word as empty slates; we have “tilts” that may or may not be known to us. That’s why humility, openness, and community become so important in discussions like these. We need others to help us see and learn. The way you all have commented and participated in this discussion has taught me much and modeled the kind of conversations Christian people ought to have about potentially contentious issues. Thank you.

Let’s attempt another answer to the question, “What meaningful roles can and should women play in the local church?” In other articles, we will discuss the ways in which women can teach, serve in missions, and pray in public services. Today we turn to an office–the diaconate.

A Personal Note

Since I acknowledge that we come to these issues with historical and personal experiences and assumptions, perhaps I should at least list some of my own. Before my conversion, growing up, we periodically attended a small Baptist church with a senior pastor and deacons. The church’s deacons were all men and their was a kind of “complementarian” spirit in the church. The church held to male leadership but I don’t recall any intentional teaching about it. Women served on a lot of committees (boy, were there a lot of committees!) and there were the “mothers of the church,” a kind of informal office comprised of senior ladies of the church.

My next church experience was very similar. Again, a senior pastor accompanied by a strong group of elders who “ran the church.” This second church was slightly different in this respect. In the first church, “pastor was in charge” and the deacons largely assisted him, though they determined things like salary and housing stipends. In the second church, there was no mistaking the authority of the deacons in the governance of the church. Women were not deacons in this church either, and there were no “mothers of the church.”

Then there came a stint with a church plant. My family and I had the privilege of serving with the core group of families who helped launch the church. I had the further privilege of helping to adopt the church’s statement of faith and constitution, which identified two New Testament offices: elders and deacons. The church had a healthy emphasis on a plurality of elders and made important distinctions between the work of elders (prayer, teaching, oversight, etc.) and that of deacons (practical care of the body). Women neither served as elders or deacons in this work.

Afterward, as most of you know, I spent several years as a member and elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Like the church plant, CHBC has elders and deacons. The elders lead through prayer, teaching, oversight, etc., while the deacons are assigned to specific areas of ministry (i.e., child care, audio/video, etc.). At CHBC, the eldership is restricted to qualified and gifted men. However, women serve as deacons.

Finally, I have the joy and honor of serving as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Here, too, the congregation is led by a plurality of elders and served by deacons assigned to particular areas of ministry (i.e., finance, school, etc.). And here, women may and have served as deacons.

So, that’s the background I bring to this discussion. The Lord has given me the privilege of being in a range of settings, witnessing a range of approaches on the question of women serving as deacons. All of these churches would in some way define themselves as “complementarian,” yet they had differing views of how sisters could serve.

So, can women be deacons?

The short answer to that, in my opinion, is “yes, women can serve and ought to serve as deacons.” That won’t be controversial for a lot of you. You’re currently involved in churches where this is the practice and understanding of the Scripture. But for some of you, that may be a new idea or it may not be the practice of your church. So, let me offer just a sketch of the biblical support for this position and then offer an important caveat.

A Brief Case for Women Deacons

First Timothy 3:8-13 contain some key instruction on this matter. For me, the issue turns in part on verse 11: “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything” (NIV). Or as the ESV renders it, “Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.”

Both the NIV and ESV contain marginal notes for the word “wives,” indicating the term may be translated “women.” So, the text could either have in view the wives of deacons (if you accept the supply of “their” in the verse), women deacons, or women who assist deacons but are not themselves deacons. Because “their” is not explicit in the text, and the word “likewise” seems to indicate another category in the list, I lean with many others in understanding this verse to refer to women deacons or at the least women who assist deacons.

Moreover, there are instances elsewhere in the New Testament that seem to indicate the apostolic church had women deacons. I think of Romans 16:1 where Phoebe is described as a “deacon.” True, the word “deacon” has a range of meanings wider than the office itself. Paul could refer to his own ministry as an apostle using the word “deacon” (1 Tim. 1:12). Most of the prohibitions have to do with the qualifications for male deacons-“husband of but one wife.” But if the assumptions I make in the previous paragraph are correct, then it would seem the Bible does not forbid women from playing this role.

An Important Caveat

As I recounted earlier, I’ve been a member at churches that do not have elders but are governed by a group of deacons. If the church does not have elders and deacons perform the teaching and oversight responsibilities biblically belonging to elders, then women should not serve as deacons. I’m a complementarian, so I believe the basic pattern of qualified male leadership in the church should be maintained in joyful obedience to the Lord.

But having said that, the more important “fix” to such a situation is not to restrict women from serving in what may be a permissible area of service in the church, but to conform the church itself to the New Testament pattern of governance. We shouldn’t restrict women in an effort to maintain irregular governance; we should conform our governance of the church to the word of God and deploy women to serve wherever and whenever appropriate.

The pattern of leadership in the church should be qualified men serving as elders. 
This is not at odds with women serving as deacons.

But if the church does not have elders, and instead deacons perform 
the teaching and oversight that biblically belongs to elders, 
then women should not serve as deacons.

A Plea

To my brothers serving in churches without elders and with ruling deacons, for the blessing of a well-ordered congregation, for the liberty of our sisters, and for the flowering of gospel ministry, re-examine why you currently neglect so clear a New Testament office as elders, which was established in all the apostolic churches (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1). And test yourselves to see if the failure to obey the Lord’s word on elders gives opportunity for denying our sisters an opportunity to serve their Lord and their churches as deacons. Structures do matter. Sometimes the wrong structures prevent spiritual growth, service, and gospel advancement.


Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Cayman Islands. Pastor Thabiti is the author of What is a Healthy Church Member?The Decline of African-American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity, and The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Preachers. He also blogs regularly at Pure Church.


Jen’s Joy.

From Depression to Joyous Hope


Be encouraged by this true story of a grandmother’s faith and hope reborn. While witnessing God‘s faithfulness throughout her daughter’s difficult pregnancy, Jenny reclaims the joy she once knew years ago.

This account is one of our featured testimonies from you, the members and visitors of this site. Each story reveals a life transformed by Christian faith. If your relationship with God has made a significant difference in your life, we would like to hear about it. Submit your testimony, by filling out this Submission Form.

Jen’s Joy – From Depression to Joyous Hope

I am a 47-year-old wife, mother and grandmother. I was raised primarily Baptist in doctrine, however, I attended Pentecostal churches on occasion with my grandmother.

My parents were both musically inclined and decided to form a family gospel group. I think I was 8-years-old at the time. Many of my Saturday afternoons were spent in front of a piano learning my “part,” as Mom put it. I didn’t realize at that young age how much church and music would impact my life.

I received Christ as my Savior at the age of 15 in a small Baptist church in Georgia. It was during this time that a few of us formed a gospel quartet and began singing in local churches. Within in a few years we were traveling around the southeast singing in churches, civic centers and other venues. I remember that although we had a good time in fellowship with others in the Lord, our ministry in song was most important to us and we took this ministry seriously.

We always closed church concerts with an invitational song, and as the spirit moved, many people came to receive salvation during this time. I know the Lord’s Spirit works in many ways. Matthew 18 says, “Where two or three are gathered together, there He is in the midst.”

Our quartet lasted for about 8 years, but eventually we drifted apart as some members got married and started families. It is hard to travel with a baby. I continued attending church faithfully with my husband. It was during my 20’s, as a new wife and Mom that I started feeling stress and found that I had trouble coping with some of life’s situations. My faith became weak.

I started drifting slowly away from God. Marital problems finally led to a divorce. I was away from God’s will for about 20 years, living a life of sin. Over time I fell into a deep depressionand began to feel that hope was gone. I did things that Christians should not do, and I was in a backslidden condition. God never left me, I left God. He convicted my heart at times, but I didn’t heed His call. I leaned to my own understanding and my own will.

Last year, my oldest daughter was pregnant and experiencing complications. She couldn’t eat due to stress and spasms of the esophagus. She drank nutritional shakes and took vitamins, but we were on pins and needles as she lost a total of 37 pounds. During this time of concern for my daughter, I began to reflect on my past. I realized that life is short and that we are not in control of everything that happens in our lives.

The baby wasn’t expected to make it past the 8th month, according to her obstetrician. But miraculously, he made it full-term. I was with my daughter in the operating room as they performed the cesarean section. The doctors delivered a precious little healthy baby boy. From that day on my faith in God began to grow. There was no doubt in my mind that God let this baby be born healthy, even when the situation looked bleak. I know medical science has an explanation, but all of my praise went to God, and my thanks to the doctors for their expertise in caring for my daughter.

This past January, my daughter was having thyroid problems along with other personal problems. I started to pray to God for help. It was at that moment that He filled me with a deep sense of warmth, joy and peace that I could not express in words. I believe this was the filling of His Holy Spirit. My burdens left me and I placed my daughter’s situation in God’s hands.

I continued to pray and ask God for forgiveness for being away from His will for so long. Ever since that time, I have been filled with a sense of peace, and now I have a keen desire to praise Him, to worship Him and to let others know about Him. I have had a problem with depression on a daily basis in the past, but now I start each day in prayer and in God’s Word. He fills me with hope for the days ahead. I know I will face troubles, illness and other adversities, but I don’t plan to let go of God’s hand ever again, no matter what comes my way.

It is my prayer that all who are hurt, or lost, and don’t know where to turn in life, will turn to God and find their purpose in life. I believe we all have a purpose and that we are divinely and uniquely created by God. I believe it begins by faith when we receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

I hope to start back in the music ministry soon. Until then, I am doing things for a needy family in my local town, helping take care of my grand baby, and trying to focus on God’s will for my life.

By Jeninga

The Denial Of Constitutional Rights Of “Freedom Of Religion” In Christian-Named Government School In Osun State: A Total Call For Condemnation By Ismael Taiwo A.

It is ludicrous and sardonic that some disgruntled elements under the disguise of religious bigotry are calling for disunity and intolerance in this nation.

Reading through the headline of today’s dailies tagged: School principal and teachers sent a child home for using an Hijab and the show of grievances by aggrieved youth make me to be pondering on where we are heading to in this nation as a result of our inability to see any good in our diversity as human beings living together under one Nation.

It is very wrong for anybody to singlehandedly send any child out of school as a result of unconstitutional claim that such child uses Hijab. I see this act as a breach of Nigerian constitution “Freedom of Religion” (1999 as ammended).

If care is not taken, we are heading to a place where ANARCHY will be looming as a result of our inability to tolerate each other. Sometime ago, a protest was led by a group under the aegies of Osun Baptist Conference when the State government introduced the policy of mixing Muslims and Christians together in public schools so as to pave way for unity in our diversity as human beings living together under the nomenclature called NIGERIA.

Later on, the government called all the religious bodies into a meeting and explained the reason for its policy and that they should embrace the policy by giving peace chance to reign. This made the Baptist Conference and the State Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) to apologize publicly that they were mis-informed by media propaganda. Since then things have been moving freely in the State without hindrance but the recent denial of constitutional right of “freedom of religion” as a result of sending children homes for using Hijabs heated up the polity.

The religious sentiment is affecting the mentality of Nigerians as we always lure any government policy with our beliefs as Muslims or Christians and this religious bigot is part of barriers disrupting the progress of this nation.

Despite the fact that the schools were founded by missionaries; since the schools had been taken over by the government for a long period of time ago and the schools are being funded by the government it is abnormal and illogical to singlehandedly send children out of the school by the Principal and teachers who are being paid salaries and wages by the State government just because the children used Hijabs. In as much as the schools are being funded by government, it is very unreasonable to have a contrary view on the policy based on religious sentiment.

If the unconstitutional excuse made by the Principal and teachers of the said school replicates itself in some Muslims named public schools there will always be a cause for alarm everyday and this may be a total call for ANARCHY.

What should perturb a sensible mind is how can the policy be of immense contribution to the development of the State. According to the Nigerian constitution; it is ridiculous, pathetic and a total disregard of the fundamental human right of the 1999 constitution (as amended) for any Christian group to deny a Muslim child the constitutional right of “freedom of religion” to attend a Christian named public school simply because such child uses Hijab. On the other hand, it is a total breach of law for a Muslim group also to deny a Christian child an opportunity to attend a Muslim named Government school just because such child refuses to wear Hijab.

I went to Muslim named school – Ansar-Ud-Deen High School and there was nothing like sending students to their homes just because of unconstitutional excuse that they didn’t wear Hijab and this is supposed to be in all government schools whether named by Muslims or Christians nomenclatures.

We need to call a spade a spade; the unconstitutional act embarked by the said government school’s Principal and teachers should be properly looked into in order to prevent total ANARCHY in the State.

Ismael Taiwo A.
PRO, NANS-Joint Campus Committee, Oyo State.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Secularism Sucking the Pneuma Out of Spirit-Filled Christianity.

When Pentecostals don’t speak in tongues and Baptists aren’t getting baptized, it signals a deeper issue of faith. (Ashley Campbell/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Fewer Pentecostals are speaking tongues. Fewer Baptists are getting baptized. Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly. But what are we to make of the decline of baptisms in water and in the Spirit? I’ll get to that in a minute.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a column entitled, “Are We Pentecostals Losing Our Religion by Holding Our Tongue-Talking?.” In it I referenced an AP report about a small Assemblies of God congregation that looks just like every other Pentecostal church service—except nobody is speaking in tongues.

What I didn’t include are the stats from the Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world with 66 million members. At the General Council meeting in August, the AG talked about the decline baptisms in the Spirit.

According to the denomination’s statistics, tongue talking decreased by about 3 percent to less than 82,000. That’s the lowest rate since 1995. How is that even possible, given that Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing sectors of Christianity? The Pew Research Center reports that at least 25% of the 2 billion Christians in the world are connected to the Pentecostal or charismatic movements.

“This is a long-developing phenomenon,” Harvey Cox, an expert in Pentecostalism and professor of religion at the Harvard Divinity Schooltold the Associated Press. “They don’t want what appears to be objectionable to stick out or be viewed with suspicion.”

And it’s not just the Pentecostals that are straying from the defining characteristics of their faith. The Baptists are also reporting a decline in Baptisms. Indeed, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) reports water baptisms dipped 13 percent in 2012 to under 300,000. Al Gilbert of the NAMB told One News Now that’s the biggest drop in 62 years—62 years!

“Maybe we’re not identifying the need to help our teenagers and even our older children understand how to publicly profess their faith,” Gilbert says. “Are we even making sure that they’ve understood the claims of Christ and then they have declared that they’re publicly a follower of Christ?”

OK, so what’s going on here and what does it mean for Pentecostals, Baptists, and Christianity at large? It doesn’t take a prophet to see that secularism is attacking the foundations of Christianity and we’re seeing the manifestations in two of the largest, oldest branches in the body of Christ.

Think about it for a minute. When Pentecostals don’t speak in tongues and Baptists aren’t getting baptized, it signals a deeper issue of faith. In an age of interfaith marriages, some may be abandoning their religious roots to avoid offending their spouses.

In a recent article entitled “Interfaith Unions: A Mixed Blessing,” Naomi Shaeffer Riley points out that before the 1960s, about 20 percent of married couples were in interfaith unions; of couples married in this century’s first decade, 45 percent were. She also notes that secular Americans welcome the rise of interfaith unions as a sign of societal progress. But it’s not progress when you abandon the tenets of your faith in the name of compromise.

Secularism is even creeping into churches. What does that look like? Some of the signs are blatantly obvious, such as teaching that Jesus is not the only way to God. But the Bible clearly states that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Approval of homosexual lifestyles is another obvious fruit of secularism in the church, just as is a refusal to confront other sins.

But secularism isn’t always so blatant. There are subtle secularistic messages invading the church. Messages that focus more on moralism than Christ and the cross sound fine and good but morality without Christ is not Christianity. Likewise, pop psychology-centered sermons can take our focus off Christ’s and distract us from our faith in His healing power and place it in steps or formulas that may actually contradict the Word.

When we’re scared our faith will offend, we’re bowing to secularism. When we stop publicly baptizing in water, we may also be bowing to the influence of secularism. And when we stop praying in tongues because we don’t want to scare off seekers, we’ve definitely given in to secularism.

This Scripture keeps coming to mind: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). Make no mistake, secularism is among the forces working to destroy our Christian foundation. It’s time for the righteous to rise up, bold as lions, and declare the cross of Christ, get baptized publicly, and speak in tongues to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. And ultimately, secularism must bow a knee to the name of Jesus.

Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebookor follow her on Twitter.


Osun School Reclassification And The Other Sins Of Aregbesola By Johnson Amusan.

By Johnson Amusan

The State of Osun is once again embroiled in another turbulent controversy reverberating across the country, as the State is known to be in the recent past. The Christians, spearheaded by Osun Baptist Convention, are protesting the government’s reclassification of school system in the State. This is to be the new educational policy in Osun.

As widely reported in the media, the protesters were armed with holy bibles and hymnbooks of various sizes like spiritual warriors on a warpath with Satan. They also held banners and placards to advertise the reasons for their mission to wrestle with the government: they do not want the ‘merger’ of schools in Osun. Their denominational excuse is the fear of “obliterating the Baptist heritage” and “granting right to muslim students to wear hijab at a school founded by the Christian missionaries”. The presence of security operatives, on hand to maintain law and order, at the scene were defied by the protesters.

This is not the first time the Christian community would protest the policy of government in the State of Osun. What makes the difference now is the confrontational approach that attracts front-page coverage of a newspaper. The fervour and vigour with which the recent protest was executed calls for real concern. What then could have gone wrong? What could have turned the gentle doves to the wild, belligerent birds? At least the lacklustre, preceding administration never experienced this kind of Christian protest. Why Aregbesola’s government is painted with the brush of a regime that likes winning and dinning with controversy?

These pertinent questions and many more propelled my interest in the investigation of this whole affair. After consultation with many naive and uninformed colleagues within my immediate community, an inquisitive trip was made to the State capital. Ahead of the journey, I put a call to a friend in the government. And in a long chat, I was made to realise what the school reclassification is all about and its essence.

The policy was explained as an innovative way of implementing the country’s educational system of 6-3-3-4, with a sustainable concept of empowering the children beyond literacy to the level of practice in global education standard and self-empowerment. The process is to automatically lead to changing of the known nomenclatures of Primary school, JSS 1-3, and SSS 1-3 to create Elementary, Middle and High schools without affecting 6-3-3-4 Nigerian educational system. The elementary school will take primary 1-4; the middle school will absorb primary 5-6 and JSS 1-3; while high school will have SSS 1-3. The elementary school absorbs the pupils in the age category of 6-10 years and they are now being fed free by the government. The structures that are built for this grade are cited within the neighbourhood and they are not only provided with the state of the art facilities but have each the capacity of 900 pupils at ago. Middle school which has the capacity of 900 to 1000 will have the age range of 10-14 years and it is cited within the maximum of 2-3 kilometres radius. This also will be supplied with standard facilities, far and above those in the elementary schools. The high school, however, is for those in the age range of 15-17 years and will have capacity of 3000 because it will be a large complex containing three schools, meaning each school will have capacity for 1000. The high school will have staff quarters, school managers, boarding and modern sporting facilities etc. The pupils of this level are those being given free computer tablets known as Opon Imo. Nevertheless, all these schools will be provided with medical centres, standby power generating sets, instructional materials and customised exercised books.

At the conclusion of this discussion with my friend, I was tongue-tied but left more confused than I was prior to the conversation. Why would any person or institution then protest against such a laudable, innovative and commendable initiative?

In my bewilderment, I consulted with ordinary people on the street and some civil society activists in the State. I was made to understand that the government did not just wake up in a day dream and launched into this new educational policy. It was a product of a well thought out process from the Educational Summit initiated by the government in 2011. The summit was presided over by the foremost educational expert and literary giant, Prof. Wole Soyinka; and a host of other eminent personalities also participated in it. A committee tagged OSCHOOL, comprising all stakeholders in the State’s education system as members, refined and approved the system.

However, the simple and major aims of the policy are to group together, in classes, the pupils of same age bracket with each class containing as fewer as possible for easy learning. The proliferation of mushroom schools will be a thing of the past with standard and well-equipped schools for all ages. As a result, the scarce resources of the government will not be over-stretched in an attempt at providing necessary teaching tools and aids for different categories of pupils. More importantly, the government will uplift the standard of public schools to an elegant standard fit for learning and teaching. These and many more are what the reclassification portends for the people of Osun.

It must be noted at this junction that Muslim communities are also protesting against the policy. Going by the media reports, they have protested in Iwo, Imesi-Ile and some other places. They are only not as loud as their Christian counterparts. Even before now, they have gone a step further by instituting an action in a court of law against the government.

With the revealed positive and progressive tendencies of the reform, why the hue and cry? A discerning look at the grievances of Baptist Convention is in two parts. One part is laying claim to the ownership of the schools while the other is resisting hijab-wearing Muslims as pupils at the Christian schools. Where in these two claims is Baptist Convention correct? The ownership of the missionary schools has been taken over by the government and all the entitlements paid to the owners since 1975. Thus, these schools are no more missions but public schools, and by inference, secular schools. It is just by sheer grace that their missionary names are still retained till date. This is a tenacious revelation, with facts and documents. Is the Baptist Convention ignorant of this fact or just consciously playing politics with education?

The second part which is about the hijab-wearing pupils is a very grievous offence as it breaches the position of the constitution on it. It espouses the discrimination against a fellow being on the basis of religion. And the constitution frowns at this. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), under Chapter 4, Section 38, Subsections (1) and (2), provides that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief… No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or take part in any religious ceremony…other than his own, or religion not approved by his parent or guardian.”

How can it be explained that the church that should be at the forefront of agitating against the violation of human rights is preaching prejudice? Or was it not for the same struggle that Martin Luther King Jr., as a Baptist Reverend, fought tenaciously and lost his life? Something has definitely gone amiss.

Contrary to misinformation spewed in the public domain, the missionaries do not own, manage or fund the only girls’ schools in the State. Since the 1975 take-over of the schools by the government, over 100 schools were built by the Baptist Convention without any as a single sex school.

Perhaps, there is the need to pierce the religious mask given to the agitation. In essence, there is an urgent need to appraise the past. What was the state of education as directed by the predecessor of Aregbesola? A cursory check shows that most public schools then were P.T.A-run. It was the parents’ body that employed teachers for the schools, most of whom were secondary school graduates. They were paid seven thousand naira as salaries and classically called P.T.A-teachers. Parents provided chairs and tables for their children to use at schools.

Most often, for the lack of security, the pupils carried the chairs on their heads in the morning to their respective schools and to their homes after closing hours in the afternoon. The parents also had certain amounts they contributed to the schools as development fees. The contributions of the then government were one or two blocks of buildings of low standard in each schools and the payment of salaries to a handful of regular staff. Since there was no provision for toilets or latrines, the pupils eased themselves around the school compounds. By the time the government was packing its bag and baggage in 2010, after seven and half years in the saddle, most of the buildings had become dilapidated and the school surroundings were in total shambles.

But the odor of the putrid degeneracy in the education then was probably not strong enough to spring the Christian and Muslim communities into the kind of actions they have engaged in recently. Notwithstanding, it is a common knowledge that during that time, while public schools were festering like a sore thumb, the private schools, though very expensive, were blossoming like the fertilized flowers. Thus, the proprietors of these schools then smiled to the banks with their windfalls. Sadly enough, there was no agency or body to supervise and monitor their low quality and poorly paid secondary graduate ‘teachers’ that they exploit to teach the innocent pupils. Therefore, it was a ding dong case of ‘you rub my back and I rub yours’ between the government and the private school owners.

I am sensing, possibly, that the sin of Aregbesola is that he has come with the determination, never seen in any previous government in the state, to salvage the educational system of the State. Initially, it was dismissed as a joke of the political soapbox. But when they started seeing buildings rising up with modern facilities, they became jittery of what would become of the fate of their own private schools. The governor is now seen as a man possessed with a strange spirit that has to be exorcised.

But there are other sins of the governor. He is not just a Muslim but a devoted one in look and nature. His government was the first (and the only one so far) to have declared Hijra as a public holiday for the Muslims. This earned him all sorts of names from a Muslim fundamentalist to a Taliban and Boko Haram. And the Christians declared that he came with the agenda to turn Osun into an Islamic State. The governor, however, had not finished yet. He further declared a public holiday known as Isese day for the traditional religious practitioners. The Muslims, who had earlier commended him for recognising their “New Year day” pitched an uncommon tent with their Christian counterparts and labelled him a babaalawo (herbalist) and an occultist. In a similar vein, school uniforms distributed freely to students has ELLA (Education and Learning Leading to Accomplishment) as the label of the school uniform; the cry was that the children wearing the clothes would become victims of money rituals.

Equally, Aregbesola remains the only governor to have accorded traditional religion practitioners an equal leverage to operate. (That is understandable in a State that can be rightly described as the cradle of Yoruba race and traditional beliefs.) Today they have more courage to be proud of their chosen faith. Despite the high level of disenchantment and no love lost between the Christians and Muslims, they have always found a common, hypocritical ground when it comes to condemning traditional religion. Meanwhile, the sermon of the governor is that religious tolerance is when a thousand flowers of religions can blossom together. And that the sky is wide enough for the millions of birds to fly together without any clash. No wonder, there has never been a reported case of a religious clash in the State of Osun.

Life can be so ironical when one looks at what a genuine leader has to pass through in bringing a progressive change to his society. As a leader, who is committed to education, Aregbesola sent about 98 medical students to Ukraine to continue their medical programme. These students became victims of the Osun State University, established without any provision for their clinical training. No university was prepared to accept them for the requisite training. Hence, their fate was left hanging until Aregbesola assumed office in 2010. He could have ignored them and denied ever been the cause of their predicament.

Aregbesola, who is called an Islamic fundamentalist, donated millions of naira to Baptist Convention during its 2013 convention in the State of Osun; gave N10 million to Osun CAN and provided N35 million for the burial of late Prophet Abraham Obadare, the former General Overseer of WOSEM. All spent from the taxes of the hardworking payers.

Each time I reflect on all this, what comes to my mind is the song of the musical maestro, Ebenezer Obey, in his record titled the ‘The Horse, The Man And His Son’. He opines in this record that no matter how wise you are, you can never satisfy human beings. But what is important is that you are serving the good of the generality of your people to the best of your conscientious ability.

What Aregbesola has brought to Osun is a revolution without bloodshed. But what has been realised is that, revolution, whether bloody or non-violent, must have its resisters. The only thing that does not resist itself is change itself.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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