The book ‘Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty co-authored by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson sets out to answer why some nations are more prosperous than others.[1] In their examinations of the causes of economic inequality, they conclude that nations fail due to underdevelopment ‘caused by political institutions and not by geography, climate, or other cultural factors.’ Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail calls for a change the way we look at—and understand the role and place of the Church, Christ’s ekklesia in the world, the earthly ekklesia (Matt 16:13-20). The common factor why churches fail as missional response to Why Nations Fail points to the composition of political institutions, that is, leadership which begins at home, then goes public. Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail warns that if anyone does not provide for his or her own home, he or she cannot expect to provide for the church or nation with any integrity (1Tim 5:8). To avoid failure in the church and nations, no one export institution (leadership) that does not work at home.[2]

Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail is more of sin issue than skin or sexuality issues. Sin is a reproach to any people, family, nation or church (Prov 14:34). Sin damages not only the body, but the mind and the heart as well.  The Good News is that there is forgiveness after repentance and baptism in the name of Christ as the Apostle Peter states in Acts 2:38. Churches fail just as “the contemporary rejection by Christians of the biblical doctrine of the wrath of God is a typical example of our allowing secular, non-Christian ideas to creep into our understanding of the Christian faith in such a way as to distort it.”[3] Today, the idea of God’s wrath ‘offends against the Enlightenment mind-set’ that only want a God whose purpose is to serve and love humanity, a tolerant God who respects human rights. Churches fail today because of ‘a sentiment view of God and love.’[4] The lesson is that ‘failure to hate evil implies a deficiency in love.’ God is love, a fundamental and eternal attribute of God warns us against God’s wrath ‘an outworking of God’s character in response to sin.’

Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fails reminds us how political institution derailed and took over Christianity ‘when the Emperor Constantine called himself a Christian … all the world was become Christians … a miserable mistakes …nominally Christians.’ Churches fail because ‘‘the love of many,’ almost of all Christians, so called, was ‘waxed cold.’ The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other Heathens. The Son of Man, when he came to examine his Church, could hardly ‘find faith upon earth.’’ Churches fail because ‘the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church; because the Christians were turned Heathens again, and had only a dead form left.”[5] Wesley’s “Thoughts Upon Methodism” aptly points to Why Churches Fail and ‘only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.’ Churches fail because we lack power. The Church is the creation of power, not the power of money, power of theology or power of technology. The Church is the creation of power, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit, hence membership is by spiritual birth.[6] Chadwick rightly said, “The Church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure. A ministry that is College-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracle … There is an abundance of machinery; what is wanting is power… The real work of a Church depends upon the power of the Spirit.”[7]

Wesley’s challenge, beyond Methodism, summons Christ’s ekklesia, the Body of Christ to recover the zeal to “spread Scriptural holiness” by holding ‘fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.’ Wesley points us to three areas where churches decline and fail especially today – doctrine, spirit, and discipline. Churches fail as a dead sect, just existing without the form and power of godliness. The threefold Wesley’s concern for renewing the church namely: doctrine, spirit and discipline points to the church believe. The reflection is, are those beliefs and spirit still driving what we very practically do in corporate and personal practice?

Churches fail in the faithful knowledge and obedience to Bible doctrine and values especially – the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the priesthood of all believers, the full expression of the Holy Spirit, growing and expanding the kingdom through covenant relationships. Doctrine as a “practical divinity,” is a ‘map that showed the way of salvation only in Jesus Christ. The purpose of doctrine was not so much to delineate propositions for our assent as it was to direct us to the God who promises new life, tell us how to receive and grow in that life, and guide us in living it out faithfully.’[8] In a post-Christian and post-truth age, churches are failing under soft and hard totalitarianism with a vision to eradicate Christianity. According to Rod Dreher, truth is becoming ‘falsehood. Doublethink – “holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them” – is how people learn to submit their minds to the Party’s ideology.’[9] Churches fail when we do not teach that ‘all men and women … are sinners in need of the Redeemer. All men and women are called to confession and repentance’[10]

Churches fail in faithful discipline, that is, the means to receive all that the doctrine promised. Churches fail in the means of grace such as prayer, searching the Scriptures, the Lord’s Supper, fasting, and Christian conversation. Churches fail in discipline as a lifestyle which enables us to remain open, accountable, and receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit. Churches fail in spiritual discipline as practices found in Scripture that promote habits of devotion, holiness, habits of experiential Christianity for spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 4:7 says, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” The goal of spiritual discipline is godliness which biblically means to discipline oneself by the power of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual discipline are practices taught or modelled in the Bible.

To see how churches fail through ‘the genius of Wesley’s three-part vision is to look at current church movements and see what happens when one leg is removed.’ It is possible for ‘a church that teaches the right things, and goes through the right motions, but still seems dead. All doctrine and discipline, but no spirit. Or maybe you’ve experienced a dynamic independent church that is full of the spirit, committed to living out the faith, but unmoored from a doctrinal anchor easily slips into excess or false teaching. Lots of spirit and discipline, no doctrine.’ It is possible for a church to be Spirit-filled, committed to orthodox doctrine, but do not practically engage in practices to put that faith into action. All spirit and doctrine, no discipline. We need all three.’[11]

Just as Why Nations Fail revolves around the question as to why even today, nations are trapped in a cycle of poverty while others prosper, why churches fail revolves round ‘a dead orthodoxy’ that ‘put people off as much as a lifeless heresy where the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost are no longer found.’ Nations fail today because their extractive institutions do not create the incentives to save, invest and innovate just as churches fail because of a major unbelief and decline in doctrine, discipline and spirit baptisms, a hallmark of the Evangelical faith and experience that gave birth to the 18th awakening in Europe. Why Nations Fail focuses largely on extractive political and economic institutions just as churches fail largely based on church institutions shaped by nominal Christianity deficient in doctrine, discipline and spirit.

Churches fail when we compromise our identity as ekklesia with divine intent to empower and impact home, churches and nations. We are Christ’s ekklesia, His Body, and as His stewards we follow Him and function missionally with clear doctrinal foundations and discipline. All our actions and interpretations must be for and to His glory and not for our self glory or any other external institution. Every tree grows in the direction of the Sun (the source of its energy) just as effectual and effective church grows in the direction of the Sun of Righteousness – Jesus Christ. Churches fail when we fail to follow and obey the Sun of Righteousness. According to Kraemer, ‘the character of the Church is distinct from that of a voluntary religious goodwill society, since it exists as “God’s act through Jesus Christ, called into being by His redemptive purpose.”’[12] Effectual and effective churches that grows, enlivened by the charismata, in the direction of the Sun of Righteousness, Jesus Christ, by nature is eschatological. It is not an “ideal institution” or extractive institution ‘but an interim one which can never feel at home in the world but “finds its origin and ends in God’s redemptive Will for the world.”

The purpose of the church is clear with a mission to fulfil. The Church is called and sent ‘to turn this world upside down with the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ and to usher in His Kingdom of grace, redemption, righteousness, love and justice.’ The church is failing today because the world exists for the sake of the church whereas, the church is sent for the sake of the world. Kraemer description of the relation of the Christian Church to the world points to how the church is failing in all its domains, not acting as a “combination of a prophetic, apostolic herald-ship of truth for Christ’s sake with a priestly apostolic ambassadorship of love for His sake.”[13]

When the church is run and follow a world nominal and business pattern, earthly ekklesia, there is a tragic price to pay by going down on a dangerous, declining and death path. Pew Research Centre reported. The Church, the ekklesia has been secularized, hence declining and failing, lacking urgency in prayer and holiness. The church cannot wear the garment of the world to overcome the world just as David cannot wear Saul’s garment to face Goliath. When the church glorify and promote the world secular ideology and falsehood at the expense of glorifying Jesus Christ in Truth and Spirit, the church is failing. It is very easy to fall into the trap of deception, putting on a performance-of acting out the Christian life with our actions not responding or corresponding to transformation of Christ’s grace and calling.

Churches fail when as a movement we ‘morph into an organisation that merely consolidates, maintains and administrates’ our image, cheapening the Gospel after losing the zeal, passion and vision of our founding fathers. In doing this, core leaders lose their unity of mission and purpose as Satan sow seeds of pride, discord, disunity and divisions. Churches thereby succumb to the slippery slope and values of secular culture and accommodation in order to remain relevant. Churches fail as we accept cultural norms that are antithetical to biblical values and ethics thereby loosing our distinction from the world and begin to decline. Churches fail when we failed to pass down our faith to our children thereby lose our prophetic edge missing divine opportunity, karios moments.[14]

Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail warns against elite who have designed spiritual and ‘economic institutions in order to enrich themselves and perpetuate their power at the expense of the vast majority of people in society’ and church. Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail challenges extractive religious or political institutions that continue to create institutions which transfer wealth and power towards few elite. Actors, ‘unbelieving believers’[15] within the churches and nations cannot engineer church growth or prosperity hence, the vicious circle of failure need to be broken prayerfully.

With the authors’ examples of Zimbabwe, ‘the most common reasons nations fail today is because they have extractive institutions.’[16] The problem is that, despite the political independence of Zimbabwe or any other developing nations, ‘the roots of the political and economic institutions lie in the colonial period. Originally apartheid institutions were established for a white elite to extract wealth from the country, but when Zimbabwe gained its independence, these institutions were simply maintained by Mugabe.’ To get political support, Mugabe ‘expropriated the farms owned by white people and when that wasn’t enough he printed money, which led to massive hyperinflation,’ total state failure and economic stagnation.[17] Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations fail challenges extractive institutions that frustrate Gospel faithful communication and discipleship just as it does to the nations incentives to save, invest and innovate.  Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail calls a renewing inclusive institution shaped by a plurality of voices from below and not imposed from above by few elite.

Churches fail as people and nations failed to glory in the Cross, as the only way of salvation. Exclusive to human salvation is the Cross and name of Jesus Christ. The Cross is one symbol among others all Christians agreed on and same in all language. Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail points to an alarming decline in biblical literacy, preaching, and Christian formation accompanied with increased hostility to Christian faith.[18] The ruin to churches, using Wesley’s words points to our institutions including ‘our preachers, many of them are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God.’[19] Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations Fail summons us to the Good News of Jesus to build His Church, His ekklessia, the called out (Matt 16:15-19). The power and authority of Christ’s ekklesia, His Church exceeds the authority of the earthly ekklesia, political institutions. Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ. In affirming Peter’s confession, Jesus declares that on the rock of that confession He will build His church. Jesus promises divine authority to Peter and during the infancy of the church under Peter’s leadership, he was loaded with charisma and attracted others to follow him.

Why churches fail as a missional response to Why Nations fails is to affirm that the authority of Christ’s ekklesia, the Body of Christ far exceed the authority of the political institutions, the earthly ekklesia. Equipped with the promise of divine authority, the church is ‘authorized to bind and loose on earth anything that was already bound and loosed in Heaven. The borders of the Kingdom of Heaven would expand into the hearts, homes, neighbourhoods, cities and regions. The criteria for being included in His ekklesia was having a revelation that He was the Christ, Son of the Living God.’[20] Are you included in Christ’s ekklesia? Have you confess Jesus as the Christ? Confess Jesus today to access the keys that unlock doors that have kept the masses in darkness, failure of nations and churches. As Christ’s ekklesia, we are ‘authorized to break down gates that keep people in bondage (Micah 2:13). The ekklesia has authority and power to act. The ekklesia that Jesus is building must be reactivated today.’


[1] Acemoglu, Daron, Robinson James A, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (London: Profile Books, 2012), pp. 3, 19-44

[2] Okegbile, Deji, Missional Leadership for Repositioning Nigerian Methodism (Lagos, Alet Inspirationz, 2019), pp. 16-29

[3] Hanson, R. P. C, God: Creator, Saviour, Spirit (London: S.C.M., 1960), p. 39

[4] Tony Lane, The Wrath of God as an aspect of the Love of God,

[5] Thomas Jackson, (ed.), The Works of John Wesley Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007), pp. 26-27; The Works of John Wesley Vol. 10 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007), p. 16;

[6] Chadwick, Samuel, The Way to Pentecost (Calver: Cliff College, 1996), p. 13

[7] Chadwick, The Way to Pentecost, p. 14

[8] Henry H Knight III, Wesley on Doctrine and Discipline, Wesley on Doctrine and Discipline | Catalyst Resources Catalyst Resources

[9] Dreher, Rod, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents (New York,NY: Sentinel, 2020), p. 14

[10] Dreher, Live Not By Lies, p. 65

[11] Doctrine, Spirit & Discipline: A holistic vision of renewal — Spirit & Truth (

[12] Kraemer, Hendrik, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World (New York: Harper, 1938), pp. 410-416

[13] Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, p. 127

[14] Ten Reasons Why Established Churches Fail – Mattera Ministries International (                                   

[15] Ravenhill, Leonard, Why Revival Tarries (Benin City: Rhema Publishing, 1972), p. 49

[16] Acemoglu, Robinson, Why Nations Fail, p. 398

[17] Acemoglu, Robinson, Why Nations Fail, p. 371

[18] Okegbile, Deji, Revival of Preaching : ‘Juvenility’ to Maturity of Faith and Preachers (London: SADL, 2018), pp. 4-10

[19] John Wesley cited in Okegbile, Deji, Methodist Pentecost Again: Wanted: 100 Preachers for Revival of Holiness (London: SADL, 2018), p.8

[20] chapter_4_how_ekklesia_became_church.pdf (