Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Steven P. Vitrano
W. G. C. Murdoch
Through the experiences of the writer as a local church treasurer for seven years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Nigeria, he became aware that this church does not have viable finances at the local church level, the local field level, and at the union field level. The purpose of this project was therefore to survey the patterns of giving, particularly tithing, as practiced in the SDA Church in Nigeria, in order to discover possible weaknesses, and to find ways of overcoming such weaknesses.
The project was conducted by means of three different types of questionnaires. The first type of questionnaire was sent to the presidents of the following SDA organizations: the West African Union Field, the Nigerian Union Field, the West Nigerian Field, the East Nigerian Field, the North Nigerian Field, and the Rivers State Field, The second and third types of questionnaires were sent to the pastors of the largest local field, the East Nigerian Field, through its president. The three types of questionnaires yielded information on various aspects of church giving from all the respondents. The total percentage of returns on all the questionnaires was 82.1 per cent.
There was a strong evidence that an overwhelming percentage of church officers and church members in the Nigerian SDA Church do not give the tithe regularly. The pastors give the tithe automatically and impersonally by having it deducted from their wages. In several instances, without asking their consent, the pastors’ tithe is deducted before their wages are paid. Apart from the tithe, which seems plain to the church members they tend to distribute their other offerings so disproportionately that the local churches and their activities are neglected, while the foreign mission of the world-wide SDA Church is very well supported. The responses to the questionnaires show that pastors promote church giving more through sermons than through visits to the members’ homes. The instructions which the pastors give on church giving seem weak because they emphasize the unscriptural landlord-tenant relationship between God and man, while the scriptural and much more important love-redemption relationship is taken for granted by them. The educational level of the pastors was found to be low with 83 per cent of them having completed the primary school or less; only 17 per cent of them completed secondary school, college, or graduate school education.
The financial difficulties of the SDA Church of Nigeria seem to spring considerably from lapses in church nurture and church administration. The low educational standard of the pastors seems to contribute in no small degree to the failings in church nurture and church administration. The most immediate way to strengthen the finances of the SDA Church of Nigeria might lie in the proportionate distribution, by the church members, of their offerings, so that more of these offerings may go to build up their own (members') local churches. Also, liberality should be promoted more systematically in the local churches by the pastors. In the long run, a vigorous pastoral visiting program (like the undershepherd plan) and a strong drive . to adequately educate the ministry who lead the church members, are likely to improve church nurture and church administration immeasurably. Eventually, the local churches will become financially stable, and the SDA Church of Nigeria will be able to support itself financially with little assistance from the world-wide SDA Church.
Christian stewarship; Christian giving
Anuligo, Silvanus Ifechukwu, "Promoting Church Support Through Giving" (1975). Project Documents. 418.
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