New developments in Deeper Life Bible Church, a well known conservative denomination, have generated heated controversy and caused lingering social media debates among her members and interested non-members.
While some see the new developments as positive and a mark of progress on the part of Deeper Life Bible Church and its founder and General Superintendent, Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, others see them as evidence of compromise with the world, and spiritual deterioration.
The stage for bitter arguments among Deeper Life members was first set last year when some youths of the church “distrupted” a Sunday service on June 6 with an instrumental performance to mark Kumuyi’s birthday. Deeper Life had once officially held that birthday celebrations were wrong.
Reacting to the development in a lengthy post, a senior pastor in the church and Professor of Mathematics in the University of Lagos, Johnson Olaleru, in a lengthy Facebook post put up on June 12, 2021, condemned the action of the youths as worldly.
His post partly read: “Those trumpeting youths rushed in and beat the vigilance of the eagle-eyed ushers when attention was diverted and everybody stood clapping after the speech of one of the governors. At that time every eye was on the pulpit with excitement and clappings. The father of the Church could not hide his happiness.
“The next thing we had was the sound of the trumpets. By the time the ushers woke up to see them, the sound had already blown out. Attempts to stop them was (sic) ignored. In order to avoid an ugly situation, the ushers were mild in their resistance.
“The Moderator of the service also made strong and brave attempt (sic) to stop them by shouting ‘Bible reading, Bible reading’, but our self acclaimed rebelling youths made good their plan and refused to obey. To them rebellion or disobedience against biblical establishments in the house of God is fun and should be tolerated after all it was to give honour to whom honour is due”.
Continuing, Olaleru said; “Does birthday celebration add anything to our spirituality and relationship with God? Is there any scriptural passage to support it? Did we read of Jesus, Paul, the apostles, saints of old, Wesleys, Finneys, etc, giving their time for celebrations by mortals when actually they were busy looking for angelic and true celebrations?”
The post which attracted over 1,000 comments was greeted with mixed reactions. While many lampooned Olaleru for being overzealous and critical of youths who were happy to celebrate their “father”, others called for caution against lowering the standard of “holiness” in the church. Not a few youths mocked Olaleru in their comments.
In a church service that followed, Kumuyi himself pleaded with the adults in the church to understand and accommodate the exuberance of the younger generation. He instructed those who placed on church discipline the youths who celebrated him, to lift it.
More controversial developments have ensued with the Deeper Life global crusade which holds from state to state. State branches of the church seemingly try to outdo one another in their welcome parades for Kumuyi. Kumuyi is usually greeted with fanfare and ardent instrumental musical performances.
This has caused disenchantment in some members and lovers of Deeper Life with them alleging that Kumuyi is now idolised. Others are worried about the Deeper Leader being flown in a private jet and driven in limousine which they think are contradictory to the conservative stand of the church against worldliness.
But some members have responded to the critics saying there is nothing wrong in “giving honour to whom honour is due.”
One other development which has caused frowns among both internal and external critics is the invitation of some foreign and local gospel acts to Deeper Life programmes. They are also worried about external motivational speakers invited to teach youths in Deeper Life, one of whom is businesswoman and former Chairman of First Bank, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika.
The concerned critics wonder why singers and speakers who do not subscribe to Deeper Life teaching and position on Christian dressing are allowed to minister in the church.
Causing a stir recently was one Gideon Akande, a former member of the church who accused Kumuyi of compromise in an open letter posted on his Facebook timeline.
Akande wrote: “But today, look at the flyer, are you saying there are no more successful people in Deeper Life Bible Church than those strangers invited? Are you saying there are no anointed brothers who can sing better than Dunsin from all the global crusades with different ministrations from Deeper Life choirs? Are there no prophets in Israel that DLBC and Pastor Kumuyi are busy engaging Philistines to their altars because they are obsessed with popularity, anyone popular now is invited. I hope you will not begin to invite Christian comedians in the coming years”.
He then went ahead to say, “Sir, Pastor Kumuyi, If you are tired, go home and rest but don’t ruin what you have built for years because I am scared.”
Not a few Deeper Life members responded with heavy knocks on Akande whose boldness to openly challenge Kumuyi was seen as an affront and an anathema. To them, there was nothing wrong in Kumuyi building bridges in the body of Christ in Nigeria.
Responding to the criticism, Kumuyi said that those who criticised his invitations were speaking from an undeveloped mind.
He said that those invited were experts in their fields and would be able to connect to the youngsters who were invited for the programme.
If many Deeper Life members were satisfied with Kumuyi’s logic, other members like Prince Dele Banjo could not be persuaded.
Banjo who identifies as political activist, anti-indecency campaigner and Christian teacher, on Sunday, released his own open letter to Kumuyi which he posted on his Facebook timeline.
He also criticised Kumuyi for inviting singers like Don Moen, Paul Baloche and Nathaniel Bassey as well as external motivational speakers.
“The band members and backup singers of these musicians you have invited to Deeper Life do not dress modestly, instead they are with immodest hair, ear rings, dyed hair, blue hair, green hair, gold hair, pink hair, nose rings, lip rings, ripped jeans, tattoos and the rest,” he said.
Challenging Kumuyi on his choice of invited speakers, Banjo wrote: “In addition, we have discovered that some of the motivational speakers that you invite to Deeper Life to minister to the youths or to congregation are not from Deeper Life and they do not present themselves according to Deeper Life principles. For example, some of the speakers you have been inviting to minister to the youths do not normally dress according to Deeper Life standards; instead they normally dress immodestly with lipsticks, earrings, make up and the rest.
“Dear Sir, Deeper Life is supposed to be a holiness church and therefore you cannot invite just anyone to come and lecture the youths at Deeper Life.
If you want to invite motivational speakers to Deeper Life, then such motivational speakers should be either Deeper Lifers or those that practise modesty and outward holiness”.
Banjo’s letter has further torn Deeper Lifers and Deeper Life lovers apart.
TheseTimes can confirm that while some Deeper Life members have been able to openly express their objectives to the new developments and trend, others who are not so bold discuss in low murmurs ostensibly for fear of losing their goodwill.
The controversy in the popular holiness church may continue to linger. And only time can tell where it will lead.