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Thu, Apr. 24, 2008 Posted: 09:57 AM EDT
The pastor of Europe’s largest evangelical church gave advice on how to revive Christianity and the Church in the United States Tuesday evening during a Q&A session based on questions submitted by American Christians.
Sunday Adelaja, founding pastor to the 30,000-member God’s Embassy Church in Kiev, Ukraine, was the featured guest of a teleconference hosted by Strang Communications, the publisher of Charisma and Ministry Today magazines.
God’s Embassy Church boasts more than two million converts and 600 church plants worldwide. During the Q&A, Adelaja emphasized how the Church should not be pulpit-focused, but rather concentrate on how to reveal Jesus Christ to people if they want to experience growth.
The Nigerian-born Christian leader used his own church as example, saying that his church first experienced massive growth after four fruitless years when he started to go out and fed the poor and took care of the drug addicts and alcoholics in Ukraine.
He also encouraged every single church member to influence and impact the culture for God.
“Do not let your people get comfortable with sitting down in the pews,” Adelaja advised a pastor who submitted a question during the teleconference. “You have to literally push them out of the pews and strengthen them so they can go out there and invade the darkness of the world because they are the light of the world.
“You have to really keep on pushing them to believe in themselves that they can change the world for God.” The influential European pastor said that the mayor of Kiev, the chief justice of Ukraine, and the prime minister of the country all come from his church.
Adelaja was also critical of U.S. churches, saying they were a “far cry” from real churches and that this generation of Americans have not seen the real church yet.
“The way things are now in America, the way we do church is kind of like a program,” Adelaja observed. “We are doing church as a club. We are trying to make people feel good, to entertain them, or try to keep them. So because of that concern – we don’t want them to go or to lose them – we kind of try to suit them.
“We are pleasing men instead of pleasing God,” the megachurch pastor continued. “I think we need to change our focus and our focus has to be ‘what is the heartbeat of God?’ ‘What does God desire?’ ‘Does He really want me to just make these people happy and keep them here forever until they die or I die? Or is it better for me to fire them up and encourage them to go and live their life truly for God and for kingdom?’” Adelaja also diagnosed American Christians as egocentric and said that they need to be taught that the focus of their life is not themselves, but God. Adelaja said that as long as pastors teach that the purpose of believing in God is for them to be blessed then people will never influence their culture. Earlier this year, Adelaja released his latest book, ChurchShift, which broke Amazon.com’s top 10 Bestsellers list. ChurchShift’s mission is to spark a revolution in American culture with the goal of reforming 10,000 U.S. churches so that they will in turn reform American society.
Adelaja grew up a poor orphan in Nigeria and was raised in a Christian home by his grandmother. He did not own a pair of shoes until he was 12 years old and had to earn a living from the age of six. Through the prayers of his Christian grandmother, Adelaja gave his life to Christ at 19 years of age. He traveled to the Soviet Union to study journalism on a scholarship and later founded Embassy of God Church after the Soviet Union was dismantled.
The Embassy of God Church is the largest church in all of Europe with some 100,000 total members, including those from all its satellite locations. Although Adelaja is African, white Europeans make up 99 percent of his church. The church has planted more than 600 churches in more than 45 countries, including 20 churches in the United States.
Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter