A reformation of mission : reversing mission trends in Africa, an assessment of Protestant mission methods in Malawi

Chinchen, Paul David (2001-03)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2001

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study and dissertation examines the mission methodologies of the Protestant church in Africa -- focusing on the country of Malawi as a case study. A historical study of early mission methods and an empirical study of current practices point to the need for a new approach to mission, a new approach that can best be described as a reformation of mission. This reformation requires the reversal of the five conventional trends that mission work in Africa has traced. At the crux of this reformation is the need to take the methodological phase of leadership development, a phase traditionally withheld until last, and make it paramount. In the process of making this assessment of mission in Africa it was necessary to first carry out historical research relevant to early mission work in Malawi. Historical research focused on the first five missions to initiate work in the country, all of which eventually established a permanent presence in Malawi. Three of these early churches were reformed or Presbyterian -- the Established Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, and the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. The other two missions were the Universities' Mission to Central Africa (Anglican) and the Zambezi Industrial Mission (independent/Baptist). These original missions to Malawi were directed and influenced by a vanguard of some of Africa's greatest pioneer mission workers -- David Livingstone, Robert Laws, A.c. Murray, William Murray, and David Scott. Details from this historical research assisted in determining what mission methodologies were being utilized at various points in time. The second segment of research pertinent to this dissertation is an empirical study of current mission and church work in Malawi. Over 100 denominations, missions, and parachurch organizations were studied. The findings from 83 of these organizations are analyzed in this paper. An exposition of data from this research is outlined in Chapter 4, but the most troubling discovery resulting from these findings was the absence of adequately trained Christian leadership and localized facilities to equip such leaders. This problem is compounded by a lack of vision for leadership development and a reluctance to commit the necessary resources. By combining this empirical research with the historical data cited above it was determined that mission in Malawi has proceeded through four paradigms of methodology: 1) pioneer mission work, 2) vocational (elementary education and vocational training), 3) church planting, and 4) pastor training. At present the church in Africa is entering a fifth dimension of mission methodology -- leadership development. Leadership training not in the traditional sense of preparing clergymen for the ministry, but a wholistic education that equips dedicated Christians for leadership in any spectrum -- religious, public or private. In order for this dissertation to present a comprehensive and effective model for mission it was also necessary to conduct a third investigation -- an analysis of what defines mission. Three important conclusions relevant to this paper can be drawn: 1) Every dimension of mission is equally valid. Whether it is ecclesiastical in its nature, proclamational, contextual, theological or liberational -- every aspect of mission is as vital as the next. 2) Mission is not mission if its central and ultimate purpose is not to reveal the grace of God made available through Christ. 3) The purpose of the church is mission -- not vise versa. These three elements of research -- historical, empirical and missiological -- form the foundation of the model for mission in Africa outlined in the final chapter of this dissertation. This model necessitates a reformation of mission that reverses the historic pattern of mission work and makes leadership development a priority. The significance of such a reformation is two-fold: 1) It will substantially increase the ability of national Christian leaders to effectively propagate the church and manage the affairs of mission in Africa. 2) It will enable expatriate mission personnel to be utilized at a point of contact where they can be most effective -- at the leadership development level. The church in Africa today is at a critical juncture. As mission enters the 21st century a reexamination of its methodology is imperative. Expatriate assistance is in decline, paralleled by swelling anti-Western sentiment that makes it progressively difficult for the foreign mission worker to maintain traditional footholds. As a result it is becoming increasingly pertinent that mission in Africa, and the church in the West, adopt a new model for mission that adequately equips the African for this inevitable transition. This new approach to mission offers a new hope to the continent. Africa's problems, as many believe, are not a result of poverty, civil unrest, or power-hungry potentates. At the root of Africa's problem is an absence of dedicated, wholistically equipped Christian leaders. Leaders with Christian morals, ethics and values -- equipped to serve the church and lead their country.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie en verhandeling ondersoek die sendingmetodologiee van die Protestantse Kerk in Afrika - en fokus op die land van Malawi, as 'n gevallestudie. 'n Historiese studie van vroee sendingmetodes en 'n empiriese studie van huidige praktyke dui op die behoefte aan 'n nuwe benadering tot sending, 'n nuwe benadering wat ten beste beskryf kan word as 'n hervorming van sending. Hierdie hervorming benodig die ommekeer van die vyf konvensionele tendense wat sendingwerk in Afrika gevolg het. Die kern van hierdie hervorming is die behoefte om die metodologiese fase van leierskapontwikkeling as van opperste belang te ago Hierdie fase is vroeer tradisioneel tot die laaste uitgestel en as van minder belang beskou. In die evanlueringsproses van sending in Afrika, moes daar eers 'n historiese ondersoek ten opsigte van vroee sending werk in Malawi gedoen word. Hierdie navorsing fokus op die eerste vyf sending ins tansies wat sendingwerk in Malawi gedoen word. Hierdie navorsing Fokus op die eerste vyf sending ins tansies wat sendingwerk in die land begin het. Hulle is al vyf uiteindelik permanent in Malawi gevestig. Drie van hierdie vroee Kerke was Gereformeerd of Presbiteriaans - die Church of Scotland, die Free Church of Scotland, en die Universities' Mission to Central Africa (Anglikaans) en die Zambezi Industrial Mission (onafhanklik Baptiste). Hierdie oorspronklike sendinge na Malawi is gerig en beinvloed deur voorlopers bestaande uit sommige van Afrika se grootste pionier sendingwerkers - David Livingstone, Robert Laws, AC Murray, William Murray en David Scott. Inligting ten opsigte van hierdie historiese navorsing het gehelp om vas te stel watter sendingmetodologieEr toegepas is tydens verskillende tydperke. Die tweede dee! van die navorsing van belang vir hierdie stud ie, is 'n empiriese studie van huidige sending - en kerklike werk in Malawi. Meer as 100 denominasies, sendinge, en para-kerklike organisasies is ondersoek. Die bevindinge van 83 van hiedie organisasies is ontleed in hierdie dokument. Hoofstuk bied 'n uiteensetting van data oor hierdie navorsing, maar die mees ontstellende bevinding wat hieruit gespruit het, was die afwesigheid van voldoende-opgeleide Christen leierskap asook plaaslike fasiliteite om sulke leiers toe te rus. Hierdie probleem is vererger deur 'n gebrek aan visie vir leierskapontwikkeling en 'n onwilligheid om die nodige bronne aan te wend. Deur hierdie empiriese navorsing to kombineer met bogenoemde historiese data, is daar vasgestel dat sending in Malawi deur vier paradigmas van metodologie beweeg het: 1) pioniersendingwerk, 2) beroepsopleiding (elementere sowel as beroepsopleiding, 3) kerkplanting, en 4) opleiding van leraars. Tans betree die kerk in Afrika 'n vyfde dimensie van sendingmetodologie, naarnlik leierskapontwikkeling -- nie in die tradisionele begrip van voorbereiding van predikante vir die bediening nie, maar 'n holistiese opleiding wat toegewyde Christene toerus vir leierskap in enige sfeer -- hetsy die godsdienstige, openbare of private sektor. Sodat hierdie verhandeling 'n algehele en effektiewe model vir sending kon bied, was dit ook nodig om 'n derde ondersoek te looks - 'n ontleding van wat sending beteken. Drie belangrike gevolgtrekkings tel' sake tot hierdie dokument, kan gemaak work: 1) Alle dimensies van sending is ewe geldig. Of dit kerklik, verkondigend, teologies kontekstueel of bevrydend van aard is -- alle aspekte van sending is ewe belangrik. 2) Sending is nie sending as sy sentrale en uiteindelike doe! nie is om God se genade, soos in Christus aangebied, te openbaar nie. 3) Die doel van die kerk is sending - nie omgekeerd nie. Hierdie drie elemente van navorsing - histories, empiries en missiologies - vorm die grondslag van die model vir sending in Afrika, S005 in die laaste hoofstuk van hierdie tesis geskets. Hierdie model benodig n hervorming van sending wat die historiese patroon van sendingwerk omkeer, en maak leierskapsontwikkeling n prioriteit. Die belangrikheid van so n hervorning is tweeledig: 1) Dit sal die verrnoe van nasionale Christen leiers subsansieel verhoog om die kerk te ontwikkel en sending sake in Afrika te bestuur. 2) Dit sal buitelandse sendingpersoneel in staat stel om benut te word by die mees effektiewe kontakpunt - die vlak van leierskapsontwikkeling. Die kerk in Afrika verkeer vandag in n kritieke tydsgewrig. Terwyl sending die 21 ste eeu be tree, is n herondersoek van sy metodologie gebiedend noodsaaklik. Buitelandse hulp neem af, terwyl groeiende anti-Westerse sentiment dit al moeiliker maak vir die buitelandse werker om tradisionele posisies te behou. Gevolglik word dit al meer belangrik dat sending in Afrika, en die kerk in die weste, n nuwe model aanvaar vir sending wat die Afrikaan voldoende sal toerus vir hierdie onafwendbare oorgang. Hierdie nuwe benadering tot sending bied nuwe hoop vir die vasteland. Daar word algemeen geglo dat Afrika so probleme nie die gevolg is van arrnoede, burgerlike onrus, of maghonger heersers nie. Baie glo dat die wortel van Afrika se probleem setel in n afwesigheid van toegewyde, holisties-toegeruste Christen leiers. Leiers met Christelike sedes en waardes - toegerus om die kerk te dien en hulland te lei.

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