The evangelical alliance mission : an evaluative study of its discipling ministry among the coloured people of Swaziland and South Africa

Matham, Samuel Wilfred (2002-03)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2002

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation seeks an answer to the following question: To what extent has the discipling ministry of The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) in Southern Africa produced disciples with a holistic perspective of the Christian mission. The specific group studied is the Coloured community found in Swaziland and South Africa. The specific period covered is from 1921-1999. After an introductory chapter which provides orientation to the subject and also gives a brief history of the founding of TEAM and of the Coloured Church called EBC (Evangelical Bible Church), TEAM's understanding of the Great Commission is evaluated in the light ofan exegetical and theological study of the Great Commission. The study shows that what is called the Great Commission cannot be arbitrarily derived from one key text such as Matthew 28: 18-20, but needs to be grasped in its total significance from the entire Bible. Matthew 28: 18-20 is treated in this study as a pivotal text which turns towards the Old Testament and the New Testament, including the context of the Gospel of Matthew itself. The conclusion of the theological study of the Great Commission, is that TEAM drastically reduced the focus to one main task - church planting, with primary emphasis on evangelism and personal salvation. In this way, the horizontal implications of the Christian mission were relegated to "support ministries" which were aimed at supporting the main task of evangelism and church planting. Thus, TEAM lacked a comprehensive theology of mission which would have connected both the vertical and horizontal aspects of its work in Southern Africa. Chapter 3 of the dissertation, describes TEAM's pioneering efforts among the Coloured people of Southern Africa. WIth the exception of their work in Swaziland, the TEAM missionaries concentrated almost exclusively on leading people to faith in Christ and establishing local churches which would function according to the principles of self propagating, self-supporting, self-governing, and self-instructing. This pioneer stage proved then that TEAM basically executed its own narrowed understanding of the task ofrnaking disciples. Added to the narrow practice of mission, was the homogeneous approach to church planting, which accommodated itself to the segregationist policies of the government, and produced three segregated denominations - all the offspring of TEAM. Chapter 4 of this study shows that TEAM missionaries and other key missionaries from what was called South Africa General Mission (SAGM), entrenched the onesided approach to the Christian mission in three Bible colleges which played a leading role in training Coloured leaders for the ministry. It was simply a matter of time before the nationals themselves reproduced what they had learned at TEAM-related colleges in their own efforts of church planting which were viewed as the fulfilment of the Christian mission. This national effort by key nationals in EBC, forms the substance of chapter 5 of the dissertation. Chapter 6 of this study discusses the road ahead for both TEAM and EBC. It focuses on six crucial matters: The need for thanksgiving for the good which has been done; the need for confession for failures in theology and practice; the need to formulate a holistic theology of mission; the need for practice consistent with a holistic theology which would assist TEAM and EBC in reconciling both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the Great Commission; the need to practise the principles of unity and mission, and finally, the need for evaluation of TEAM's Relational Reconfiguration in order to determine what can be done to promote better relationships between TEAM and the TEAM-related churches.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie proefskrif is om die volgende vraag te beantwoord: Tot watter mate het die dissipelskap bediening van "The Evangelical Alliance Mission" (TEAM) in Suider Afrika, volgelinge met 'n omvattende perspektief van die Christelike sending voortgebring? Die spesifieke groep wat bestudeer word, is die Kleurling gemeenskap van Swaziland en Suid Afrika. Die spesifieke tydperk wat gedek word, is vanaf 1921 tot 1999. Hoofstukl beskryfkortliks die geskiedenis van die stigting van TEAM, deur die werk van Fredrik Franson in 1890. Sy motiveering tot sending, is duidelik, deur sy geloof in die naderende wederkorns van Christus. Die werk van TEAM in Suid Afrika het gelei tot die ontstaan van die Evangelical Bible Church (EBC) en het drie afsonderlike verbonde of kerke tot gevolg. Hulle staan bekend as Kerk 1 (Swartes), Kerk 2 (Kleurlinge) en Kerk 3 (Indiers). Die fokus van hierdie studie is gemik op die Kleurling denominasie, alhoewel die ander groepe ook bespreek word, vanwee hulle betrokkenheid by die Kleurling kerk. Hoofstuk 2 evalueer TEAM se begrip van die Groot Opdrag in die lig van 'n breedvoerige studie van die Christelike sending, gebaseer op die totale boodskap van die Bybel. Die hoofteks aangaande die Groot Opdrag (Mt. 28: 18-20), word beskou as 'n sentrale teks wat beide die Ou Testament sowel as die Nuwe Testament betrek. Op hierdie wyse is dit duidelik dat die volle Missio Dei, wat ook die fokus van die Christelike sending insluit, in die visier kOID.Die slotsom van hierdie teologiese studie, is dat TEAM as sending van 'n gebrekkige Bybelse teologie van sending, die hooftaak van die Groot Opdrag beperk het tot Kerk stigting. Sodoende was TEAM in staat om die vertikale aspek van sending te beklemtoon met die klem op evangelisasie en kerk stigting, maar kon nie aan die horisontale dimensie omvat, wat volgens die Skrif 'n wesenlike aspek van die Groot Opdrag is, reg laat geskied nie. Inteendeel, bedienings wat nie direk verband hou met kerkstigting nie, was beskou as "ondersteunende bedienings", nie as wesenlike bedienings nie. Hoofstuk 3 beskryfTEAM se vroegste pogings onder die Kleurling gemeenskap van Suid Afrika. Klaarblyklik, met die uitsondering van die werk in Swaziland, het TEAM sendelinge daarop gekonsentreer om mense tot geloof in Christus te lei en om plaaslike kerke te stig. Dus in die baanbreker stadium, is TEAM se beperking van die Evangelie tot persoonlike saligheid en lidmaatskap duidelik. Die enger fokus van die Groot Opdrag is ook sigbaar in die tipe opleiding, wat die lidmate by TEAM - verwante Bybel kolleges ontvang het. Hierdie verhaal word vertel in Hoofstuk 4 van hierdie proefskrif Hoofstuk 5 beskryf die werk van die inheemse lidmate en bewys dat hierdie werk basies kerk stigting was, ooreenkomstig die benadering van TEAM. Die horisontale omvang van sending was afwesig, behalwe vir individuele pogings, byvoorbeeld kleuterskool bediening. Hooofstuk 6 van hierdie studie bespreek die pad vorentoe vir beide TEAM en EBC. Die fokus is gerig op ses kardinale aspekte. Die behoefte aan danksegging vir al die goeie dinge wat gedoen was; die behoefte aan belydenis vir die route in teologie en die uitvoering daarvan; die behoefte om 'n alles omvattende teologie van sending te omskryf, die behoefte om daardie teologie op 'n holistiese wyse te beoefen en wat beide TEAM en EBC sal help om beide die horisontale en vertikale dimensies van Die Groot Opdrag, met mekaar te versoen; die behoefte om die beginsels van eenheid en sending uit te oefen, en laastens die behoefte aan evaluering van TEAM se "Relational Reconfiguration" om vas te stel hoe om beter verhoudings tussen TEAM en TEAM-verwante kerke te bewerkstellig.

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