Faith Series: The importance of visitation for Christians and the church



There’s a Yoruba adage that says: Eni ti a o ba fe ni ile e njina.
When translated, it roughly means: ‘it’s the house of one not truly beloved that’s always the farthest’.

What this underscores is the fact that when you love somebody enough their abode is simply considered to be so nearby and the chances of you visiting are very high even though truly they may be living in the remotest and inaccessible parts of the community or city.

Clearly, the anchor word in that statement is ‘love’. Love definitely has a lot to do with all visitations just like all of our other kingdom works.

You should also know this, nonetheless that, visiting others is a gift; a fruit of the spirit make more abundant and revealing in some more than the others.

That’s why you’d find a person paying others visits and at a great personal cost and they would still not stop even when there is no immediate or future sign of reciprocal action from the other side.

Of course, acts of continuous visitation cannot become daunting for someone who’s easily discouraged or want their good action immediately gratified.

That said, the act can still be carefully cultivated by anybody who so wishes with little or no compulsion. It’s expected of all.

But as Christian sisters, brothers and the church of God, how do we manage or respond to the need for regular visitations among ourselves?

Maybe as a Christian sister or brother, you do not find this convenient for the reasons of your busy work schedule; always feeling tired after returning from work, or considered it to be non-important after all you do not look forward to being paid one.

How wrong you’re particularly with the last reason. Life, you must be reminded can happen to us all and at any time necessitating the activation of one.

And as the church of God, maybe there’s simply no mechanism in place to sustainably accomplish such an important spiritual task for the members of your congregation. For this, the necessity of visiting others will continue to suffer likewise its benefits.

Let me tell you a personal story. I came to Abuja in late 2018, and I decided to join a local branch of one of Nigeria’s popular Pentecostal denominations.

I won’t mention any name but I’ll give you some clues concerning the church I’m talking about. If you’re smart, you’d easily decode.

The church in question arguably has the largest networks of church branches belonging to any Pentecostal church in Nigeria and perhaps in the world today.

As I was saying, I was received with fanfare in the modes of a special song and warm handshakes from the church elders especially those on the pulpit like it’s done in virtually every church in the land.

I was made to sit on, as they call it, a VIP seat prepared for us kings and queens as respondents to Altar call are usually characterized where my personal details were extracted, documented and I’d strongly believe were entered into their database.

But believe you me, that’s where it all ended and considering the fact that my joining the worship center wasn’t as a result of any evangelism on their part.

On that day and subsequently, many like me had been welcome in like manner yet no efforts were made at checking up on us till date. Not even a phone call or text message in this respect did I once received.

So, in a way, it could the reason for the visible fluctuations in attendance during Sunday service and which may have been caused by other reasons too. You never can tell.

Ordinarily, I didn’t allude any infractions to such oversight from them as one may call it because accepting Christ remains a personal decision everyone will have to make at some point in their life and whether or not visits were extended to you it won’t change anything significantly.

Nevertheless, I believe it still matters. It gives congregation members old and new a sense of belonging and that they are cared for by the church which is the body of Christ.

On one occasion and feeling pleasantly surprised, I heard the presiding pastor complaining when the altar call was made and nobody came out on a Sunday like that.

And like he had never done as far as I can remember, he immediately called out the evangelism department to be up to their responsibility. There was such imperativeness in his voice that was lost as soon as he spewed it out.
This got me seriously thinking about what they’ve been unable to do even with those ones they’ve got from way back.

Sincerely, if they have a very active visitation framework, the church auditorium should always be filled to capacity every other worship day even from the number of first time worshipers that I know of, how much more those who I didn’t know.

Every other Sunday, the auditorium is always half filled or half empty depending on what your perceptual philosophy is. I was made to understand by older members of the church that it doesn’t have the culture of visitation as such. But a semblance of it can be seen in demonstration at other parishes of the same church. Why it’s never all-encompassing still baffles me.

So the importance of visitation or checking up on people and more so on ourselves as members of the body of Christ cannot be overemphasized.

Amongst others, it goes to show the person(s) we’re checking up on whether through telephone calls, messages or even emails and any other mechanism adopted that truly they are cared for.

And as for new members of our churches, physically checking up on them in the early stages of their conversion helps to upbuild and cement the shared genuine love Christians are required to show and the zeal for growth and prove that the reception they were accorded during their Altar call isn’t a fluke.

Checking up on ourselves as Christians enable us to know firsthand the household of every church member whether new or old and help to highlight areas the church can intervene in case of health challenges, marital rift and other existential problem people are prone to encounter in life.

This in addition to the general practice of weekly house fellowship helps to stir up the fire in our heart after kingdom activities.

Finally, checking up on ourselves may reveal what we’ve been up to as faithful servants of God Almighty as can be seen in Gen. 3 9:10 when God visited Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. In verse 9, ‘Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “where are you?”.  And in verse 10, so he said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid.”    

While churches with smaller members will do well with physical visitation, it would, however, poses an insurmountable challenge for those with mammoth worshipers. In this regards, a combination of alternative methods should be adopted to suit their spiritual and physical needs.

Shalom!
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Deji Olaluwe
Abuja, FCT, North Central,, Nigeria
Deji Olaluwe is a writer, poet, and blogger. He's the brain behind this blog. Some of his hobbies are travelling, listening to good music (especially Afro-centric genres), and meeting people.