Christianity in Africa: Ecclesiology and Missiology to Shape Society

Subject: Religion
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 11
Word count: 2810
Topics: Church, Africa


The church is one of the most important institutions to the human race. Christianity has spread all over the continent, and most importantly in Africa. The continent has shown a remarkable increase in the number of individuals who proclaim the Christian faith as well as the impact of the religion on their lives. Since the arrival of missionaries, the reception of the natives of the land towards the gospel was good. The platform led to the penetration of the religion in the continent. Christianity in Africa is however faced by some challenges that have affected the progress of the nation and the church negatively. Ecclesiology and missiology would play an essential role in shaping the society and reducing the challenges facing the church. Ecclesiology is the study of the Christian Church, its originality, relationship with Jesus, role in salvation and leadership style. Missiology, on the other hand, refers to the study of the nature of missionary work. This work focuses on explaining ecclesiology in Africa as well as determining how ecclesiology and missiology would be necessary for shaping my local church and the public issues affecting my culture. 

Part One

The selected region is Africa. The continent is the second largest and the second most populous continent after Asia. The growth of Christianity in the African continent has been identified to be among the most surprising events that happened in the 20th century. Between 1900 and 2000, the number of Christians in the land had grown from about 9 million to over 300 million individuals. The Ecclesia in Africa is part of God’s family worldwide. Studying ecclesiology in Africa opens up the understanding of diversity within the continent and promotes a further understanding of the church. Research identifies that the continent has a wide variety of beliefs, and statistics on religious affiliation that are difficult to deal with due to the sensitive issues of governments with mixed religious populations. 

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The participation of Africa in Christianity dates back to the early times. Christianity in Africa began in the 1st century with the root of African Christianity being in Egypt, North Africa, Ethiopia, and Nubia. By the 2nd century, the religion had spread widely, and individuals such as Cyprian, Athanasius, and Augustine of Hippo played a vital role in facilitating the development of the faith. Evidence of the presence of Christianity on the African continent has been mentioned in some activities that are narrated in the Bible. It was in Africa that Jesus Christ ended his earthly mission when he was crucified in Golgotha. Baby Jesus together with his mother and foster father took refuge in Africa. The institution of the church in Africa has raised the interest of many Christians-based types of research that have facilitated an understanding of religion in the region. During the first five centuries, the church faced some challenges such as persecution and martyrdom. The African continent has numerous different church denominations which profess the same faith. The church in Africa has been integral in the development of the continent in all aspects. The cultural, political, and economic disparities have been reduced with the development of the institution. The religion has most of its faithful being in regions such as in the Southern African, Southeast African and in the Central African nations. Research has identified that there has been a significant decline in the adherence to the traditional religious systems in the defined regions. The traditional places of worship, religious leaders, and religious rituals have been gradually eroded and replaced by modern Christianity. The African Independent Church together with other Protestant churches is among the leading organizations that have promoted the growth of Christianity in the African continent. From such well-established church organizations, there has been a significant growth of other smaller churches, which may be having different perspectives and ways of carrying out their religious activities. All religions have led to the spread of Christianity despite their different understanding of the Bible.

The growth of churches in Africa has been promoted by several factors. Firstly, the Church has grown due to the presence of quality church leaders. Since missionary work was introduced in the 19th century, there has been a significant rise in the number of active church leaders. Missionaries came into various parts of Africa such as Central and Southern Africa before the Europeans colonized the regions. The introduction of Christianity into the interior areas of the African continent was part of the missionary goal of improving the lives of Africans. Anti-slavery and humanitarian activities are some of the movements that stimulated the Europeans into reaching into the African continent. David Livingstone, for example, of the London Missionary Society, arrived in South Africa in 1840 and he was the first missioner to travel through the continent. The missionaries played an integral role in teaching the natives about Christianity. Missionary work further exposed the Africans into the western world which later colonized them. Missionary work provided Africans with access to civilization and a cultural pattern that helped in keeping the land at the pace of the other continents. Despite the challenges that they faced in the continent such as diseases and hostile communities, the missionaries were eventually able to accomplish their mission. In the process, Africans learned the ways of managing the church as well as conducting some rituals such as baptism. Gradually, the number of Africans taking up leadership positions in the church increased by a considerable margin. Institutions offering theological lessons emerged and played a pivotal role in instilling Africans with skills necessary for managing the church. Theology schools have promoted Christianity today to a great extent. As a result, the number of individuals joining the church has increased, as well as the impact of the church on the lives of individuals. The leaders have spearheaded the activities of the church, in a manner that integrates the diverse groups present in the church, as well as keeping the congregants focused on achieving the goals of the church. The original teachings impacted by the missionaries, as well as those extracted from the Bible have been integral in regulating the manner in which Christians interact with their environments, the roles of the church and its leaders and the rituals performed in the church. 

Secondly, the African church has significantly grown due to the availability of resources. Africa is wealthy, especially with the variety of cultures present within the continent. The various religions have helped promote the growth of the church mainly due to their different talents. The talents, when brought to the church, were essential in ensuring that activities were well performed in areas such as evangelism, etc. according to the abilities of the individuals. Further, upon the arrival of the missionaries, the African continent was able to enjoy the established institutions such as the church and hospitals that expanded the growth of Christianity. Missionaries found the bodies, to enhance their missions. However, a majority of the Europeans that arrived on the land after the missionaries, the colonizers, promoted resistance to all the whites. Their mistreatment of the Africans eventually led to increased resistance against the whites. After the Africans gained enough power, they were able to send the foreigners from the land. Some of the established buildings were not demolished and have been important in the development of the church even in the present day. Further, the Africans have the Bible translated into their native languages. The translation of the Bible into the various African languages has promoted the spread of Christianity since the individuals can read the word of God in their mother language and hence understand it better. It should be noted that the illiteracy levels in Africa are still high, and therefore in some communities, they can only understand the Bible when translated into their respective languages. Finally, the church in Africa has grown due to the focus of those in leadership positions as well as the congregants in the development of Christianity. The evangelists, for example, usually give their assigned tasks the best of their abilities, which have been appreciated at numerous platforms. The activeness of the Africans has attracted more individuals to Christianity.

The church in Africa has however faced challenges, like any other churches in other parts of the world. The church has been met with an acute problem of raising enough funds to finance its activities. Resources are essential especially since they help in improving the conditions within the church. Poverty remains a significant challenge in most African societies. Churches have been forced to ask for assistance from other regions to facilitate their activities. Secondly, the church has experienced the major challenge of internal resistance. A majority of the resistances within churches are as a result of dissatisfaction with the way in which those in leadership positions perform the various roles. The leadership wrangles have retarded the growth of Christianity, especially when the individuals decide to split and form their churches. The split has led to the establishment of many numerous Protestant churches that have different interpretations of the Bible. Further, a lot of time is spent by the churches in criticizing the activities of each other. The criticisms have led to distasteful verbal exchanges that destroy the foundation of the church. Christianity in Africa has also been primarily affected by the presence of other religions.  The spread of Islam in various parts of Africa is among the challenges affecting the spread of Christianity. The Islamic faith has heavily influenced its followers into sticking to their religion; a situation that has prevented the penetration of Christianity in areas that are Muslim dominated such as a majority of the countries in the North of Africa. Finally, the church has been heavily influenced by the activities of politicians. In a majority of the African countries, there has been a tensed atmosphere that has been promoted by the actions of the politicians. The harsh political situations call for the need for enhanced teamwork amongst church leaders despite their political interests. The churches spend time correcting the ills developed by the national leaders. Churches that have been unable to overcome the political heat have risked the existence of their establishments. However, a proper response to the political heat within the African nations has strengthened the churches and Christianity in general. When the various church leaders organize themselves properly by setting their differences aside and focusing on nation-building, churches have improved remarkably. 

The African continent needs to develop the right strategies that will enhance the expansion of Christianity and the capacity of the religion. With enough financial backup, the church will be able to fund a majority of its activities such as evangelism, helping the less fortunate, building Christian facilities such as theological schools, training individuals, etc. Further, the institution of the church needs to establish more theological training institutions and motivate more individuals to enroll in the curriculum for the development of the church. Also, the church leaders need to express better leadership skills that are Godly and match with the teachings of the Bible.  With better leadership abilities and divine intervention, there are fewer chances for the development of leadership issues within the church. Effective leaders can embrace all congregants despite their differences as well as spearhead some Christian missions that could improve the church. Political leaders, additionally, need to help in creating a conducive environment that supports in developing the church. Their actions should portray Christ at all times. Finally, the church needs to integrate modern technology in all its activities. Research has identified that technology in the 21st century has become central to the lives of humans, as it has led to the improvement of the standards of human living. Technology can be integrated into activities such as communication with individuals from any part of the world, and evangelical missions. The integration makes spreading Christianity easier.

Part Two

Ecclesiology and missiology are essential features that if applied adequately within churches, there can be significant improvements in the efficiency of the church. In the application of the elements in my local church, I would ensure that I spearhead the understanding of the importance of the aspects of the activities of the church. I would involve all groups within the church in learning exercises through for example meetings and seminars. During the sessions, I would impart the individuals with the knowledge that I have concerning the topics. Further, I would enhance my learning sessions through engaging other more accomplished individuals in the meetings. The selected individuals would provide additional information regarding the manner in which individuals can utilize the features for the betterment of the church. The sessions would be accompanied by performance evaluation sessions where the individuals involved in the training sessions are evaluated, and their performance determined. Depending on the way that the individuals perform, the necessary intervention methods are determined, and individuals requested to engage in them. Further, I would apply and contextualize the features in my local church through leading a life that portrays Christ. It would be needless for me to behave in a manner that does not match with the teachings of the Bible. It becomes much hard for Christians to attract others into participating in the church activities if their activities are inappropriate.

Besides, I would slowly advocate for programs that seek to involve individuals in activities that help promote a better and a closer experience with God. Some of the events would include Bible studying, prayer sessions, and sharing with the less fortunate. Further, the operations would involve courses that educate church leaders on how they can manage conflicts at the place of worship. Poor management of disputes has destroyed the foundation of the Church. I would also focus on informing the leaders as well as the congregation of the manner in which they can promote effective governance at the national level. The nation plays a vital role in shaping the activities of the Church. Further, under my watch, I would ensure that missionary and evangelical work is useful. The effectiveness of the program would be realized through the involvement of the right missioners as well as an allocation of the right and adequate resources to enhance the activity. I firmly believe that the strategies would improve the state at my local church. 

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Part Three

The features have significant implications for the public issues facing my culture if adequately implemented. My culture has been one that is dominated by acts of corruption. Corruption has been made a way of life that has been passed over to the younger generations. Currently, it has been improved with creativity and experience, a situation that has put my region on the global map. Individuals have learned that to access any human service; they must use fraudulent means, or rather, they are assured of missing their opportunity. The situation has highly favored the filthy rich in the society, as they manipulate those in leadership positions so that they may access their wishes. The poor have always been left dependent on the mercy of the strong ones. They end up in churches seeking help and guidance during their daily nightmares. The situation has become worse because fewer individuals are willing to take the bull by the horns. Even those that attempt to expose and eradicate the corrupt schemes in the society have been terminated even before they start their missions. 

I, therefore, think that an introduction of the features into the lives of the members of the society would be necessary for dealing with the problem. Ecclesiology and missiology would much help in creating a Christian community that refrains from the vice. Church leaders would be sensitized to the importance of spreading the gospel concerning corruption concerning the Bible. Gradually, the challenge facing the public would be terminated, and individuals would not seek favors to achieve their goals. The love for one another would prevail across the society regardless of the social, financial, gender statuses, etc. if ecclesiology and missiology were efficiently applied.

In conclusion, ecclesiology and missiology are fundamental pillars for the establishment of the church. The church in Africa started a long time ago and had gradually developed to have many followers. Christianity in Africa is among the most dominant religions in the continent. Several factors such as the presence of missionaries in the past centuries and proper church leadership systems have promoted the growth of the church. Further, the church has experienced challenges that have hindered its growth. Limited funds, leadership disputes, and political intensity are among the factors that have negatively affected the activities of the church. In the application of the concepts in my local church, I would ensure that I spearhead the implementation of the events that promote the growth of the church as well as establishing a closer and stronger relationship with God. The concepts would also be necessary for dealing with acts of corruption that have dominated in my culture.  

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