Reaching Schools With the Gospel

Image

It is  shocking  these days to look at our media  and local dailies only to be hit by a mind blowing occurrence.  Crime is on the rise and the worst bit is that criminals are now even at their worst as they recruit children and young men and women and use them to cause insecurity and commit crime. Many are the times we have seen documentaries showing how children living in the slums are trained on how to shoot, then given guns . These children often times are of the school going age. One can not help it but struggle  and wonder where this world is going. Is there any hope for our lost and dark world?

With all these realities that are threatening the lives and the future of our young men and women something ought to be done. There is need for the gospel to be proclaimed. In our context the biggest challenge that we have is that we have replaced and supplemented the gospel. The gospel of our day says that if ones life is hard and we are going through persecution then we need Jesus to come and make things work out for us.  We always think that the  gospel is the minimum requirement that a non believer needs to get to heaven and for those of us who have already been ‘born again’  we  ought to graduate to something more than the gospel in order to live a Christian life and be effective at it. Indeed this is a lie from the enemy, Satan, the god of this age. In the Bible Satan is called “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 16:11). Furthermore, Satan, whose name means “adversary,” is the god of this age in that he is the supreme exemplar of evil. In the words of Jesus, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Indeed, all the sin of the world is patterned after Satan: “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). It is he “who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9).

Now there is the problem that we are dealing with, we have changed and replaced the truth of God with  human knowledge and philosophies.  Paul speaks to the Corinthians and says , I did not come to you with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. He says he wanted their faith not to rest on mans wisdom but God’s power and that is why Paul chose to preach Christ crucified, the gospel.  The gospel is all we have and it is what we need to brace ourselves with as we get into schools and higher institutions of learning. We are living in very dangerous times and things are not going to change  any time soon if anything there will be worse times ahead before we see our Lord Jesus come to us. The disease that we are fighting against in this age is sin, this has eaten us and all that remains is blotted selves. The problem of our young boys and girls is not that they are not educated enough or they do not know what they want in life. By all means we should mentor them to be responsible and self reliant but when we miss out on the main thing that is the gospel of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ then we will still lose them with all the education and good prospective lives.

We do not need any other thing bigger or even more philosophical and well planned, researched and executed apart from the gospel. All we have to  do is to point out who we are, that which our young people are struggling with is sin, addictions, pervasion, twisted characters among many other things. This is the bad news, that they as well us included cannot do anything apart from being a sin factory. All of us are like sheep gone astray and we neither acknowledge God, neither are we obedient to Him. What we deserve is the full punishment and judgment from God. This is not to downplay the place and need for counseling, but we ought to proclaim the truth of God, the gospel of Christ crucified faithfully. 

All is not lost, we have a hope, our hope is Christ. That while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, Jesus has taken our rightful punishment and judgment from God.  Both the past, the present and the future sins. That we were dead in our sins but God, He has given us life, new birth in His son Jesus Christ. He equally gives us grace to live in obedience. This is the hope, that God’s justice reigns, that He has forgiven all sins through His son and He now calls these young boys and girls to a loving relationship and to obedience. That which we could not do in that we were limited Jesus Christ did it, Jesus has taken our deserved penalty.

 

Image

Advertisements

Why Am I Still Preaching?

Words of Truth & Reason

My congregation’s life is in full summer mode.  That means on any given Lord’s Day, we’re missing 2/3 of our people (sometimes even ¾!)  When I take the small step up to the pulpit on Sunday and look out over the small gathering, I wonder – why am I about to preach?  Should I bother?  The summer doldrums make me feel this question more so than the rest of the year (I always feel awkward preaching to smaller groups).  But the question is still a good one to revisit.  I’ve heard several times that communicators and teachers should endeavour to be ‘guides on the side’ instead of the ‘sage on the stage’.  There is in this a not so subtle critique of the sermon in its traditional form.  *nevermind that as a pastor, I spend lots of time guiding on the side*

Why, in this day and age, should God’s…

View original post 628 more words

ALL IN THE NAME OF MINISTRY

There is an emerging trend that is sickening among the African preachers. Church splits and church hoping has become the norm. If  somebody is seeking to establish a ministry the biggest motivation is how can i engorge my self and get the best i can, can it and sit on it.

The biggest motivation for planting a church is not for building up the body of Christ but seeking for ways by which one can get to mint the generous contribution from the west. Churches in the west are known to be generous in giving towards gospel ministry courses and many lay preachers have often times taken this to their advantage. One would easily split a congregation and plant his church right close to the previous and start looking for ways of attracting donor funding.

Ones the funds begin to come in, these group of people would quickly channel the money to other personal projects and even prepare deeds under their name. Others get engorged and soon they leave the Church giving excuses like my set covenant with God for service was a given number of years; seven for instance. At this point and time they usually have fat bank accounts, big houses and a fleet of imported automobiles

The folk simply moves on to build his empire as he continues to con the donors. Well this is embarrassing and ungodly. The trend is becoming worse and worse. The effect of such behavior is that many vulnerable people have been used as baits. These preachers take photos of their congregations and post them online on their blogs and websites to depict the poverty and misery of the church members.

When the western donor churches see such photos they give continuously to help but the money gets to the preachers pockets. Soon the flock is left without a shepherd and the donors get to realize the mischief maybe  a little bit too late. The funding is stopped and the ministry sinks to oblivion. And the cycle continues, another lay preacher, another ministry, another generous giver and finally a disillusioned flock.

PREACHERS OF A DIFFERENT GOSPEL

Image

The African Continent has a big plague that is slowly eating away the heart of  the true gospel and faithful handling of Scriptures. It is surprising to see the ever increasing number of Churches as new Ministries are being established. Many critics have said that the African church has not done enough discipleship for the ever increasing number of believers. Others still argue that the church is slowly moving away from its mandate. Whether or not, the one thing that is quite subtle is what we see Paul warning the Galatians against in Galatians: 1: 6-10; the Church in Galatia had been infiltrated by a teaching that was quickly spreading like gangrene.  This same teaching was pointing people away from the gospel which is Christ Jesus and his work of grace.

 

Image

THE FOCUS OF THE WORD FAITH DOCTRINE

 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should  preach a gospel other than the one we preach to you, let him be eternally  condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!  Am I now trying to win the approval of men or God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-10.”

 

Like the Church in Galatia, the church in Africa has seen an influx of egocentric “Men of God,” who are lording over congregations preaching heretical messages that are devoid of Christ but with a coating of religion. These groups of people serve their own interests as they are key on three big points; health, wealth and power. Others go as far as having self help sessions in the Church. The challenge has been a misconception of what the gospel is and how we ought to herald the message. People have been taught on how they can get material blessing and be well endowed here and now. With the majority of people looking and earnestly searching for hope, they end up being easy baits to these preachers. As being cognitive misers, the congregations easily get duped and even made to believe and subscribe to these preachers.

 

Image

 Our biggest challenge in Africa being poverty and resources, the preachers act like witchdoctors others giving charms for wealth, anointing oil for good health and protection against witch craft, still others have holy water with which they use to anoint homes and houses from “bad eye,” effect and ill motives.  The biggest of them all preach against suffering in this world. They are quick to point out that Christ needs us to occupy and thrive in this world  before he comes to take us home. Nobody should suffer because we have it all done by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is however contrary to the gospel and  its an error in the interpretation and application of scriptures.

 The biggest question to us as  servants of Christ is how do we walk away from these errors and ensure that the gospel is preached in its entirety? While writing to the Corinthians Paul is keen to point out that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Our depravity and fallen nature qualifies us to be the objects of God’s  wrath. Our default position is destruction, but God out of his love lavished his grace on us. He has chosen to save us and give us life. As it is Christ should be our treasure and priority as believers. For the preachers ours is to woo for the bride of the Church. For we have been called to a higher calling. Scriptures remain authentic and true inspired word that ought to be handled faithfully.

CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP IN AFRICA

Image

PROF. KWAME BEDIAKO

The history of African Christianity can to a greater extend be attached to evangelism by the western missionaries who entirely gave themselves to reach out the African Continent. In droves they came leaving behind all their belonging and family, carrying their coffins with them and laying down their lives just to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Well the gospel was proclaimed and God worked in the hearts of many and the veil was uncovered and people came to the knowledge of Christ. Then there was the challenge of culture verses the gospel, this saw many African theological scholars  dig in to find how Christianity could be viewed not as a form of western culture but a global religion. Their labor was more towards exalting Christ as the Lord of the universe.

 

Amongst such African scholars is the theologian Kwame Bediako. Manasseh Kwame Dakwa Bediako, late rector of the Akrofi-Christaller Institute for Theology, Mission, and Culture, in Akropong, Ghana, was born on July 7, 1945. He died, following a serious illness, on June 10, 2008. Over many years he pointed others to Africa’s proper place in contemporary worldwide Christian discourse. He charted new directions for African Christian theology. He labored so that generations of scholars, confident equally of their Christian and their African identity, might be formed in Africa, and to that end he created a new type of institution where devotion to scholarship and understanding of the cultures of Africa would be pursued in a setting of Christian worship, discipleship, and mission.

 

Kwame received an excellent education of the English type. The period of his secondary education coincided with the transformation of the Gold Coast into Ghana, the first of the new African nations, led by Kwame Nkrumah, with his emphatic rejection of Western rule in Africa and high sense of Africa’s past glories and future destiny. Kwame Bediako left Mfantsipim as its head prefect and in 1965 entered the University of Ghana, set up after World War II with the aim of being an Oxbridge in Africa. There he developed as an eloquent orator and debater, a person who could make a mark in politics; he also attained the academic excellence in French that won him a scholarship for graduate studies in France and the promise of an academic career. By this time he was a confirmed atheist under French existentialist influence, apparently deaf to the pleas of Christian classmates.

 

In France he gained master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Bordeaux, not surprisingly choosing African francophone literature as his area of research. During his time in France he underwent a radical Christian conversion—so radical that at one stage he thought of abandoning his studies in favor of active evangelism. Happily, he was persuaded otherwise; the time was coming when he would recognize scholarship as itself a missionary vocation.

 

Kwame’s evangelical convictions and credentials were manifest, but he was wrestling with issues that were not at the front of most evangelical minds, or on the agenda of most evangelical institutions at that time. Could Africans become fully Christian only by embracing the mind-set of Western Christians and rejecting all the things that made them distinctively African? Ordinary African Christians daily faced acute theological issues that were never addressed in the sort of theology that apparently served Western Christians well enough. It was not that the theology was necessarily wrong; it simply could not deal with issues that went to the heart of relationships with family, kin, or society, nor deal with some of the most troubling anxieties of those who saw the world in terms different from those of the Western world. Africans were responding to the Gospel, and in unprecedented numbers, but the received theology did not fit the world as they saw the world. Great areas of life were thus often left untouched by Christ, often leaving sincere Christians with deep uncertainties. Much evangelical thinking was not engaging with the issues of culture, or was doing so simplistically or superficially. It was such concerns that brought Bediako back to academic study, and Kwame took a second doctorate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

 

 But his immediate call was to Ghana and to the pastorate of the Ridge Church in Accra after spending time as a lecturer. The three years (1984–87) that Kwame spent there were formative for him in what they revealed of the concerns, aspirations, and anxieties of African Christians, and in later years he was never less of a pastor for being a scholar and academic. Indeed, even before he left Aberdeen he had a clear vision of what his ongoing work was to be, and pastoral concerns were at its heart. When he left Ridge Church in 1987, he found, with the full approval of his church and the support of friends in and beyond Ghana, an opportunity to put the vision into practice. The outcome was the Akrofi-Christaller Centre for Mission Research and Applied Theology, later called the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission, and Culture. Its establishment and development lay at the heart of Bediako’s work for the rest of his life.

Indeed much still ought to be done as regards African Christianity and discipleship as well as missions.

                         

                SOURCE:  Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission, and Culture.

                                                                                                   

 

 

Passing the Baton: Apprenticeships

In recent years local churches and denominations have attempted to find ways of better identifying, encouraging, preparing and testing people for gospel ministry.  Potential gospel workers have often felt confronted with a vast gulf between their emerging desire to devote their lives to gospel service and the processes (machinery) by which they do so within a church or denomination or a Christian organization. A successful approach to overcoming this problem has emerged based on a ministry apprenticeship concept. This entails a prospective gospel worker being associated with an experienced gospel minister in a structured programme integrating spiritual development, ministry experience and biblical teaching for a period of time usually one to two years. In the course of this “apprenticeship” both the apprentice and the experienced practitioner, along with the local church oversight body, are better able to assess the suitability of a person for ministry and, if appropriate, facilitate progress toward more specialized training or ministry involvement.

 The “apprenticeship” idea is based on the concept of prospective gospel workers (apprentices) working alongside experienced practitioners (pastors, mentors, coaches etc.) who not only share their knowledge and skills, but also their lives and ministries. It mirrors the kind of relationship evident between Moses and Joshua (Ex. 24:13; 33:11; Num. 11:28), Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 19:21), Jesus and his disciples (Mk 3:13-15), and Paul and his co-workers, particularly Timothy (Acts16:3; Phil. 2:22; 2 Tim. 3:10). In each case, prospective gospel workers/leaders were associated closely with mature practitioners, sharing with them in the various experiences of life and ministry, and in the process, being equipped and proving their suitability for ministry themselves. The goal of such apprenticeships is to facilitate “the passing on of the baton” of gospel service to another generation of proven men and women.

Apprenticeship should be the heart of  ministry, many of the times though not so many people have understood this concept. Indeed it is more of a new approach that could be foreign in our context but still is a good avenue from which we can be able to recruit, train and equip the next group of gospel workers for the African church. Many of the churches in the west thrive on apprenticeship as a way of resourcing and recruiting gospel workers. First-hand exposure to gospel service in an apprenticeship provides an invaluable context for both the apprentice and the experienced teacher/guide/coach –along with any other body of oversight –to assess suitability for ministry. It allows the apprentice to experience the realities of gospel work and appreciate its demands and requirements, enabling them to better assess their spiritual gifts and sense of call to such a ministry. At the same time, it provides those guiding, teaching and overseeing them a substantial basis for affirming or otherwise their suitability.

 Image

In our efforts to equip the African church with gospel workers for the coming centuries it is time to embark on structured models of descipleship and mentorship.

The big questions for the African Church still remain to be:

1.How best can we equip gospel workers?

2. How can we tackle unfaithful teaching of scriptures and combat prosperity  preaching?