According to eyewitnesses, the blast tore through St Theresa's Church in Madalla as worshippers gathered for Christmas services.
An emergency official told reporters that the authorities were struggling to cope with the casualties.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman, Yushau Shuaibu told the BBC that the explosion had happened in the street outside the church.
Earlier he told Reuters news agency: "We are presently evacuating the dead and the injured, but unfortunately we don't have enough ambulances.
"Most of our ambulances have gone to operate on the major highways of the country."
Security had been beefed up in recent time following recent skirmishes between Boko Harem gunmen and soldiers in Yobo and Borno States have killed over 50.
Eye witnesses said windows of nearby houses had been shattered by the explosion.
Officials at the local hospital said the condition of many of the injured was serious, and they were seeking help from bigger medical facilities.
However, some of their most spectacular attacks have taken place in Abuja and include the Independence Day bomb attack and the blowing up of the UN Headquarters building.
Our correspondent who visited some churches in the Federal Capital Territory however reports that the incident did not dampen the enthusiasm of worshippers as most were full as expected.
Rather, there is heightened security consciousness as unknown people entering some of the church premises were screened by local security details.