27 June 2016
Pastor Agu on Lagos, leadership and the life of the Church
If you haven't heard of Pastor Agu Irukwu, it's really time you did. He is the senior pastor of Jesus House, part of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, which is the fastest growing church in the UK. He oversees more than 600 parishes and is chair of the Festival of Life, a prayer gathering that 45,000 people attend. Pastor Agu is also a key member of the Alliance's One People Commission. Voted Britain's most inspirational black person in 2012, his church hosts multiple Sunday services, a radio station, counselling service, prayer ministry, CAP group and youth work – and a whole lot more. Amaris Cole caught up with the church leader to ask about how a ministry of this scale can be relevant to all generations.
How did you become a church leader?
I was born into a Christian home, but never took the faith seriously until 1991 when I committed my life to Christ at a young, thriving church in Lagos, Nigeria – the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Apapa Parish. I was appointed to the leadership and threw myself into serving, and in a short time I went through a series of leadership, training, and mentoring programmes in faith, and acquired leadership skills. After about two years of serving in leadership I was appointed the pastor of the church. I served in that capacity for about six months before being asked to come and pastor a one- onth-old church in London, Jesus House, where I still serve as senior pastor.
What do you think makes a healthy Church?
I think a healthy church requires a number of things to work together, such as a community where people can build healthy relationships and grow to love each other; an environment at gatherings where people can experience God; deep and sincere worship and authentic and relevant sermons. A healthy church also needs to encourage people to serve, help them identify their God-given gifts with which they can do so and ensure that people are clear and committed to the vision so they give generously of material resources and their time.
Do you think a church needs to be made up of all generations to be healthy or can a church thrive when it targets one specific age group?
I think a healthy church should have a representation of all generations. While one generation may form the majority, it should have a representation of all the age groups/generations.
What is Jesus House doing to engage their congregation?
The key is relevance. The congregation should feel that their church is relevant to them and can equip them to live out their faith in 21st century London.
How can a church be relevant to a particular generation?
″ You are relevant to a generation by meeting the needs of that generation
″ By creating avenues for that generation to be involved in church – especially in the areas of service and leadership
″ Then by profiling that generation to others within that peer group, showcasing them as an integral part of the church
Does the Church do enough to engage older people when it is so focused on attracting young people?
We probably need to do more. We are very aware of the significance of making church a place in which anybody can be comfortable. However, like most churches across the land, the generation that we need to reach out to in larger numbers is the millennial generation and so there will be a bit more of a focus in reaching them, but we mustn't ignore the other generations that are there. Otherwise, it could pose a problem in the future for the Church.
Do you think it's becoming harder to live out faith in the UK?
I think it's not just a UK problem, it's a problem in most parts of the western world. A combination of materialism and those who are pushing an environment that is not Church friendly – aggressively secular humanism – is being created. The Church has to be intentional, more strategic, more prayerful in equipping the saints to live out their faith, not just in this environment.
What's your prayer for the UK Church?
That the Church would be prayerful and more committed to evangelism, that God will raise bold leadership, and most importantly, that the Church will be more strategic in advancing the kingdom of God. Jesus House is one of 3,800 member churches of the Evangelical Alliance. The Redeemed Christian Church of God is a fast-track denomination, meaning its churches can join the Alliance without having to provide references. If your church would like to enjoy the benefits that membership brings, visit eauk.org/join