Bishop Dr. Mark Omonze, Presiding Bishop of All Grace Cathedral, Okota, Lagos, has enjoined believers, particularly fellow preachers to always address and resolve issues on the basis of the scripture. In the below interview with Christian Benefits, the bishop notes that the position of the scripture on any issue or controversy remains valid irrespective of fresh insights or revelations. Below are the excerpts.
It’s being eight years we last featured All Grace Cathedral in Christian Benefits. How will you describe God’s move in the church between then and now?
We thank God. My focus in the ministry is to lay the foundation like Jesus’ style of ministry. Jesus had the crowd but dismissed them and focused on developing some key disciples and then released them when the time was ripe. When All Grace Cathedral started I told the members the church is not a regular church. It is about developing people who would take the message to different places and manifest.
How has that boosted the growth of the church in the last eight years?
All Grace Cathedral does not use gimmicks to draw people to the church. I don’t focus on what many people call church growth. Instead, I focus on the growth of the members. I have seen some men of God become so desperate for what is called church growth that they become manipulating. It now becomes all about their finances and numbers. When that becomes the focus they go extra biblical and the people become comfortable with it because they see the pastor still vibrating. But if the pastor is not there can they stand; can they defend Jesus? Can they defend the scripture? So, I don’t focus on growing the church that way. I focus on growing the members who can stand and defend the Bible anywhere. I raise members who when they see any strange doctrine they will be able to say no, this is not correct!
What enables your focus on growing the members over the years?
Apostle Paul said I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. It is not everyone in ministry that had a heavenly vision. It is not everyone in ministry that was called by God into ministry. Some people are into ministry by appointment. Their pastors appointed them assistant or branch pastors. After awhile they become dissatisfied with the way the general overseer is running the church or how they are sending all the incomes of their branches to the headquarters church and decide to start their own church. Paul said whether by strife or whatever the gospel is preached, therein he rejoiced. But the point is Paul rejoicing over the gospel being preached does not translate to approval of the heaven about the manner by which it is being preached.
Are there consequences in running a ministry without heavenly approval?
Of course there are dire consequences in running ministry without heavenly approval. When a man is running an errand God didn’t send him, God won’t back him up. So, he has to fabricate doctrines for himself and his followers. He will now be telling people about God that he has no relationship with because he is running an errand he was not sent by God. That is why we have “churches” everywhere. The truth is most of these churches around cannot stand. But when a man is called by God; if he had a direct encounter with God, God will walk with him day to day.
To what extent is your personal encounter with God helping your ministry?
It has been helping me in a very large extent because my reliance is not on men. My reliance is not on crowd. My reliance is not on my capacity. My reliance is on the Holy Spirit. I rely on the Holy Spirit daily. We drag the Holy Spirit into our projects. What has been helping me is I don’t take any step without the leading of the Holy Spirit. Even when I mount the pulpit to preach I don’t rely on my notes. When you mount the pulpit and say the topic of my message is so and so; is it your message or God’s message? If it is God’s message you won’t rely on your notes. The Bible says let he that speaks, speak as an oracle of God. God is consistent. God may reveal fresh insights to His word but He is consistent in His objectives, nature and person. Fresh insights don’t negate the scripture. God does not change. If it is the Holy Spirit that leads you will know when you start changing. I can’t prepare what God will say because He is the One to speak through me as a vessel. I read the Bible to know Him, to walk with Him and to understand His person and nature. So, when I start hearing things contrary in my spirit, I say look, this is not my Father talking. This has been my strength both in life and ministry.
Aside your ministry, what has been your impact in the body of Christ generally?
In the past eight years I have traveled a couple of times to the United States of America (USA) on mission and preaching in churches. I have served as Chairman of Okota chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN, Lagos state). I have also served in the Isolo/Ejigbo Province of Lagos PFN. I try as much as I can to avoid the politics and power tussle in the body of Christ. A man who seeks power in order to act is not a sincere man unlike a man who does not seek power to act. I don’t have to be the president to impact Nigeria. If I can buy a form for N100m, I might as well have used that N100m to fund electricity for one small community. If I can’t do that and I buy a form for N100, the truth is I’m applying for the money I’m going to steal because the first thing I am going to do when I get to office is to recoup all the money that I spent to occupy that office. I won’t spend N100m to buy a form. Instead, I will use that money to make impact in my community. It is the people in that community that will now say this man has been making impact in our community, let’s vote him. They will now be the one to buy the form for me out of understanding and appreciation of the impact I have made in their community
What is your take on some prominent preachers that have reversed some parts of their doctrines or apologized for what they now realized as errors in some of their past teachings?
When you bring up some issues some of us are either confused or emotional over the issues instead of going back to the scripture to address and resolve the issues. Some pastors reverse their teachings maybe for people to like them or to keep their church crowd. For instance on the issue of title, tithing is spiritual. Tithe is in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. The challenge is many believers; including lots of general overseers are not well fed in the scripture. That is why they can’t stand to defend their teachings or doctrines when people begin to question them. Instead, they will reverse or recant their teachings or doctrines because they are confused. The truth is most general overseers also preach what they heard and not what God revealed to them. That is why today we have echoes instead of voices on the pulpits. The echoes preach what their spiritual fathers taught them, or what they learned or were taught in the Bible school. But the voices are oracles who directly receive revelations from God such that people cannot dispute those revelations.
“I can prove that Jesus took tithe. I studied this over 20 years ago and discovered glaringly in the New Testament that Jesus took tithe. When I presented my discovery to people nobody could dispute it, why; I studied”
Are there consequences in preachers reversing their past teachings?
Yes, there are consequences in doing that such as raising a generation of the poorly fed in the scripture, a generation of the faithless and a generation of the backsliders. Paul said how can I pull down the foundation that was once laid? If you have been doing something for decades, and now you are tearing it down, it may not be because you have discovered the truth. You are tearing it down maybe because you don’t want to offend some people. You want the youth to keep coming to church so you have to be on the side of what you think favour them. When a spiritual father who has taught a particular subject or scripture for years is now challenged by questions, he should go back to the scriptures for further studies. I can prove that Jesus took tithe. I studied this over 20 years ago and discovered glaringly in the New Testament that Jesus took tithe. When I presented my discovery to people nobody could dispute it, why; I studied. Like I said, lots of preachers are repeating what they read in some books, or what their spiritual fathers had taught them. They carried them over, and when persecution comes they start reversing their long preached teachings or doctrines.