In his 2011 convocation address, the President of Asbury Theological Seminary, Professor Timothy Tennent said to his largely American audience that, “in the 19th century, God commanded us to Christianize Africa. In the 21st century, He may well be calling us to Africanize Christianity.” In similar vein, Professor Andrew Walls predicted that “it is inevitable that the religio-cultural transformation of the 20th century will place Africans and Asians more and more in positions of leadership in world Christianity.”
If majority of Christians now live outside Europe and North America; and if Africa as widely recognized by observers of African Christianity is a major block in world Christianity; the question then arises: what will the church in Africa contribute to enhance the growth of the wider church? I believe God’s decision to shift the center of numeric gravity of the contemporary world Christianity to the global south is not a call to competition rather it’s a call to a higher and a more intentional collaborative ministry. According to Walls “that Africa will bring gifts to the church is widely recognized, and many see those gifts as including a zeal for Christ, unembarrassed witness to him, energy and delight in worship, and fervency in prayer, all of which will bless the wider church.” Walls however adds that Africa must bring intellectual and theological leadership to the wider church too.
One significant way to contribute is to be intentional in writing and publishing – contributing to the wider Church issues that have not yet been known especially those coming from its cultural context. It is high time that Christian writing and publishing are treated as part of holistic ministry of the church. Timothy Tennent rightly points it out that the recent development in world Christianity “cannot be approached by a “business-as-usual approach”; it cannot be approached by a “pastor-as-comfortable-career-option approach; it also cannot be approached by a, “I’m going to spend my time preoccupied with my salary, my pension plan and parsonage” mentality; neither can it be approached by a “climb the denominational ladder” strategy.” It is a call to the ministry of writing and publishing by all stakeholders within our faith community!
Timothy Tennent, “The Translatability of the Christian Gospel” A Convocation Address delivered at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2011.
 Andrew Walls, “World Christianity, Theological Education and Scholarship” in Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies: http://trn.sagepub.com/content/28/4/235, posted on September 12, 2011 and accessed on October 10, 2011, 238.
This lecture was delivered by Rev. Dr. Otabil Mensah at the 2nd Tokunboh Adeyemo Memorial Lectures on March 31, 2012 at the Jubilee Ministry Centre of NPC Valley Road, Nairobi, Kenya. The lecture was originally entitled, “Transforming Nations, Beyond Changing Leaders and Constitutions: The Case of Africa.” The lecture was organized by the Centre for Biblical Transformation (CBT) in partnership with Christ Is the Answer Ministries (CITAM), Pan Africa Christian University (PACU), Africa International University (AIU), Nairobi International School of Theology (NIST), and International Central Gospel Church. I guarantee that listening to this lecture will be worth your while. In the meantime, I need to let you know that if you have not already signed up for SOUNDCLOUD, you will need to do so. So, if upon clicking you see something like: “Oops, looks like we can’t find that page,” just sign up with your FACEBOOK OR EMAIL AD. Click on this link to listen. Enjoy!
It is no more news that the center of gravity of the contemporary world Christianity has shifted from the global North to the global South. The Nigerian Church especially its Evangelical/Pentecostal brand is a major contributor to this shift. Besides the will of God, scholars have argued that American evangelicalism/revival, missionary enterprise, indigenization, vernacular Bible Translation, contextualization, and globalization are some of the factors responsible for this unprecedented growth. Post-independence cultural awakening is an additional factor to consider in the phenomenal growth of Christianity in Nigeria.
Right from its beginning, Christianity has been a faith rooted in specific cultural contexts traceable in history. That explains why Christianity and its theologies are contextual in nature. Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles ministered within particular cultural contexts. A big part of Jesus’ teachings as well as those of his Apostles are responses to the cultural questions of their days.
We must always appreciate the unfathomable contributions of Western missionaries to the growth of Christianity in Nigeria. However, unlike Jesus and his Apostles, many of these missionaries failed by not taking advantage of the cultures they found on ground to transmit the gospel.
The modern Nigerian Church has learned that the gospel cannot be isolated from peoples’ cultures. People’s identities are rooted not only in their faith but also in their cultures. The late Nigerian historian and theologian, Ogbu Kalu echoes similar sentiment when he said, “African Pentecostalism has grown because of its cultural fit into indigenous worldviews and its response to the questions that are raised within the interior of the worldviews.” While it is a fact that not all aspects of any culture is good; the good parts could be a vehicle for transmitting the gospel when used complementarilly.
Mark Shaw, Global Awakening: How 20thCentury Revivals Triggered a Christian Revolution (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 11.
 Ogbu Kalu, African Pentecostalism: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008), 170.