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I Had No Plans To Set Up My Own Church: Pastor Poju Oyemade

Posted by on August 20, 2020 — Drop A Comment


I Had No Plans To Set Up My Own Church: Pastor Poju Oyemade

COVENANT CHRISTIAN Centre Founder

At what point did you get the call to go into the ministry?

Oh, that’s quite interesting. What happened was I decided when I was young that I was going to go to Lagos for a different experience. What happened was I had this friend of mine who is dead now. We decided we were going to be roommates together in school, in the University of Lagos. Now, it so happened that we got into this room, the number was U218 in Mariere hall and U318 just started a fellowship just above us. At that time, Christianity was just coming out of what we knew as the SU movement and then it was getting more contemporary and this was the contemporary fellowship in the University of Lagos. You could go in and see people that looked like you, dressed like you, people who were serious about their faith in God. I became close to the leader of that movement then, he used to preach and preach to me. Eventually, I think after about a year, I finally got converted. This was in 1985. But I got really serious about it in 1986/87. Eventually, I became the president of that fellowship, that was where I discovered this was my life’s calling. 

And did you have to go trainings and all after that?

No, you see, what happened at that point in time, people started churches, people like Bishop Oyedepo, people like Reverend Tunde Joda, Bishop Wale Oke, Pastor Olubi Johnson, they were older than us, but it was principally the same kind of movement, they started the church on the outside. At that particular point in time, fellowship groups started on campus, people like Reverend Chris Oyakhilome started fellowships then. For my generation who got saved there, the training that we had was in running campus fellowships, we didn’t have any formal theological training. We actually spent time running campus fellowships, preaching and all of that. Now, of course, the people who did best were people who, while they were much younger, worked in larger churches that had structure, so they were given that structure, or probably worked in the corporate world for a while because what was required wasn’t exposure to scriptures. People had that, but what people needed to succeed from that environment was actual structure. So, those people who had structure were the ones who came out and did best. Now, of course, some of these people realized things that in their own life they wished that they had when they started, so they started bible schools to transfer what they lacked in their own lives that they finally came up with into the lives of younger people coming up. 

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At the start of Covenant Christian Center, what informed the way the church is structured?

Well, I actually didn’t want to start a church or be a senior pastor of a church. Maybe it’s this Ibadan mindset, I wanted to work for somebody. I felt I was a good interpreter of people’s dreams. But because, by the grace of God, I was gifted, so what happened was, when I joined a particular ministry, the pastor’s wife actually told him, look, I don’t think it is healthy having this young man around. And he told me. He called me and said my wife told me it’s not healthy with you around, that you seem to be brilliant, you preach well, you have exposure and all of that, so we will have to just let you go. So, I was actually left with no choice but to try and start something. But what I had in my mind that I wanted to communicate was simply this; the challenges I had, growing up as a Christian, developing as a Christian, with the things that I experienced, I felt I was going to establish a community of believers that will principally address those things and help people through that. And it was really about bridging the gap between what is written in the scriptures and the experiences that people had within their lives.

So, how has the journey been so far? Have you achieved what you set out to achieve?

At the onset, it was tough. It was really tough. And the reason why it was that tough was that, as a campus fellowship leader, I had pioneered something in campus fellowship that I don’t think had been done before. I almost changed it into a full-fledged ministry. I was inviting Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa, Bishop David Oyedepo, Reverend Tunde Joda to our conferences. I mean, one night, we turned back one thousand five hundred people from the auditorium the night Arch Bishop Idahosa came in. So, I think there was that weight of expectations that, immediately I start things would just fall into place. Someone told me then that I expected that within a year you’ll have a congregation of at least two thousand people but things didn’t work out that way. So, it was tough, not just externally but mentally speaking, I was like what’s going on here until I actually made what I would call a structural adjustment in my approach to ministry and then things began to get better. 


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