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Why are there so many churches in Uganda?

By Samuel Ballagadde

OPINION | If you are very observant, you must have noticed that the number of Churches in Uganda are becoming an issue for some law makers.

“Mushrooming” is the word used most by officials calling for new state policies that will restrict activities and random establishment of Churches in Uganda.

Notably, their effort seems to bearing fruit. This website reported last month that ICT minister Nantaba, who is of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, revealed that government is working on a new bill that will regulation religious activities in the country.

“The law in the making is necessary because there are so many mushrooming religious groups and preachers who are hiding in religion to commit crimes…when you hear the rate at which churches are mushrooming, then you realize the need of regulation in my district. One village can have like 5 new churches. We have no laws regulating religious activities, when we pass one, it will greatly help.” she said.

To come to my point, is the increase in the number of Churches in Uganda the work of man or God? Think about it.

Look around and what do we see?

I believe one reason for so many churches is because people are spiritually hungry and thirsty in Uganda today. This has made it easy for anyone to start up churches, ready to accommodate the overflow.

Hunger and thirst are natural expressions of the basic human desire and need for food and water. One of the clear indicators that something is wrong physically is when we lose our appetite.

It is the same spiritually. To hunger and thirst for God is at the very root of our being. When there is no hunger for the presence of God, it is an indicator that something is wrong spiritually.

Many are coming up to create room – why law-makers are worried, practicing pastors too, is because they are not sure if Church planters are ready to receive the thirsty and hungry with the right motives. You can be a wonderful minister, and not have the gifts of a church planter? These irregularities have caused many to depart from the faith.

A colleague said he asked people for whom he has great respect and are gifted in ministry, “Do you plan to be a church planter?” And they told him, “No, that’s not how I’m wired.” They are making a difference in the Kingdom, but they realize that they don’t have what it takes to plant a church.

It takes a wise and sensitive person to realize what God does not want them to do, when.

Government has seen the fruits of several established church planters, and to it, some fruits are a clear indication that planters need to be sieved.

I repeat, there are many Churches because God’s people are hungry – Christians and non Christians alike. This thirst is Christ-born. The need for a savior is evident in all creation. The harvest is great but not every harvester comes with the right motive.

Some churches start from ignorance, false teaching, pride and other worldly reasons. This is undeniable. Jesus prayed that all His disciples would be united even as God is one. (John 17.20-21.) He would not have told us to be one, if He knew no divisions arising from false churches would arise.

Why do some churches teach salvation by grace only? Why do some teach salvation by faith only and others teach salvation by works? How can we teach so many different ways of salvation?

The Bible warns us so many times of false teachers who would lead us into sin. (Matthew 24.24, 2 Thessalonians 2.9-12, 1 Timothy 4.1-3 and many other scriptures.) The Bible also warns us to handle the word of God carefully.

2 Timothy 2.15 says we are to: handle properly the word of God. This means it can be used in a wrong way if we are not careful. If a man tells you he is a driver and you let him drive your car, you will be in trouble if he does not drive properly. He can spoil your car and maybe kill you!

What can we do? What will the government do? What will Church leaders do?

Personal thought, we must try to be the church we read about in the New Testament.

The author is an evangelist based in Kampala, Uganda.

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