THE WORLD’S LARGEST CHURCH STADIA:
NIGERIAN CHURCHES MAKE ESTABLISHED MEGA CATHEDRALS IN CHRISTENDOM LOOK LIKE CHILD’S PLAY
By Daniel Breakforth
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” John 2:19-20
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and GREATER WORKS than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” John 14:12
In the words of Benson Idahosa, they used to call us ‘mushroom’ churches and now we have become ‘Much Room’ churches. With the passage of Idahosa in 1998, the era of ‘much room’, truly Mega African Churches commenced and were described in the words of Leke Beecroft as ‘Nation Churches’. Not only were the crowds gathered, like harvest, there was need for ‘barns’ to preserve them. Regular crowds never seen before in christendom indicative off overripe African harvest became a norm.
First was the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) with Lekki ’98, a 7.2 million man gathering. For this, the RCCG presently has a 3km by 3km auditorium called the New Arena. The Arena is a ‘Conglomeration of Mega Pavilions’ and as such does not constitute a regular closed door, air conditioned, door and window fitted auditorium. It is such that the scale of structures, RCCG is involved in is not matched globally. According to Peter Wagner, the Old RCCG Arena is about 86 football fields while Deeper Life Bible Church recently completed a 30,000 capacity headquarters at Gbagada. At present, efforts are on to put up a 500,000 capacity mega pavilion as against the previously planned 127,500 capacity project at the Deeper Life International Conference Centre.
The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries also put up the Prayer City while Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, President of Loveworld Nation has relocated to the Asese Campground, the new headquarters and structures are growing on a daily basis. Living Faith Church (LFC), Salvation Ministries and Dunamis International Gospel Centre along with others mentioned above are among the largest and fastest growing religious organizations in the world. Indeed, history is happening right under our noses in Africa and yet the whole world seems so oblivious.
Records are made to be broken. The LFC, one of the churches out of Nigeria with physical presence in 146 nations has a penchant for breaking records. Humorously, her first thatched structure built in 1987 was tagged the ’World’s Largest grass cathedral’ (Zanna in Hausa language). Also, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on visiting Canaanland, Ota, Africa in 1999 and while admitting that the Faith Tabernacle was ‘rather large,’ disputed the ‘largest church auditorium’ claim. By January 2007, the Guiness World Records finally verified the assertion…after 8 years. According to Christian Century Magazine. ‘That same church (LFC) is building twice it’s (Faith Tabernacle) size-The Ark!
One nation that must be mentioned at this point is the Phillipines. At present, no other country in Christendom is attempting the kinds of things in Nigeria apart from the Phillipines. Many have alleged that is the case because Nigerian churches are competing but contrary to that, Nigerian churches have moved from dependence on foreign organizations in the past to independence from these organizations and now interdependence. Bishop Oyedepo at the foundation laying of Faith Tabernacle and Faith Academy, declared… We are not in a competition, we are in a commission (The Great Commission).
On the contrary it is on record that the owners of KJC King Dome set out to make a domestic milestone in construction. The initial plan was to build a 50,000 capacity auditorium but when the Phillipine Arena was dedicated with 55,000 seats, the plan was changed to accommodate 75,000 which explains why the completion date was extended from 2015 to 2023.
It must be noted however that the structures in the Phillipines are not strictly churches in the real sense of the word. They are mixed purpose arenas to be used for secular concerts, sports competitions and music festivals and will thus be more fitly be named among the world’s largest indoor arenas and not as the largest church buildings or church auditoria. They were however built by churches and will regularly hold services.
But let’s go back a few years to 2008. Hardly had Faith Tabernacle been listed as the World’s largest church auditorium than new projects elsewhere began springing up. By 2010, Salvation Ministries commenced preparations for a 40,000 capacity project that would later be expanded to a 120,000 capacity auditorium. Shortly afterwards on 17 Aug 2011, the 55,000 capacity Phillipine Arena project started and was completed within 2 years and 9 months on 30th May 2014 at the cost of $213 million.
Consequently, the Faith Tabernacle record had been broken after 16 years. About 3 months later, in Nigeria’s Federal Capital, ground was broken for Dunamis Glory Dome, a 100,000 capacity auditorium, the largest of such in the world. Dunamis did not become the biggest church building but by 25th November 2018, she obviously had become the auditorium that could sit the most people as inferred by Leke Beecroft in his article ‘Abuja Monuments of Faith and the Dunamis Phenomenon’.
Records are made to be broken. No sooner had Salvation Ministries’ Hand of God and the Phillipine Arena projects commenced than another project broke ground. From 2012, The KJC King Dome Arena Project began. The King Dome is vying to exceed the Phillipine Arena to become the ‘World’s Largest Indoor Arena’ with 75,000 seating capacity.
The King Dome is inside the 18-hectare KJC called Kingdom Global City which, in turn, is part of the 26-hectare Kingdom Global City Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ). The King Dome is 100 church but additionally an integrated leisure resort destination. The Kingdome was completed in December 2023 and will be dedicated in April 2024 as the largest church structure in the World but only for a few months because the Ark (of Safety) project which exceeds the King Dome in many parameters and commenced in 2021 in Ota is looking forward to completion before the end of 2024.
End of Part 2
Part 3 to be published by 5.30pm today.