Leader-shift in the context of World Christianity

Professor Andrew F. Walls is not only a towering figure in the study of the contemporary World Christianity; he is undoubtedly one of the most prolific scholars of the nature, history and the future of African Christianity today. Long before the recent numerical shift in the center of gravity of world Christianity from the  to the global South and East took place, Walls has been prophetic in calling the attention of Western academy and the world church to that impending drama.[1] Now the reality is dawning!

Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko

Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko

The gradual fulfillment of Walls ‘prophecies’ is the geist of this post.  In one of his writings, Walls pointed out that when the shift in the heartlands of the contemporary world Christianity will eventually dawn on the world, ‘Africa, Asia and Latin America will increasingly become the powerhouses of Christian though and significant amount of the next leaders of the world church will emerge from those contexts.’[2] The election of Pope Francis on 13 March, 2013 as the first Roman Catholic Pope in recent church history from the global South makes a significant statement of the new leader-shift that the world church now witnessing.  In similar vein, the recent appointment and commissioning of Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Nigeria on 9 June 2013 at the chapel of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary as the first African international director of SIM is yet another confirmation of Walls prediction. See  the Commissioning Service of the new SIM International Director Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko; SIM Names Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko next International Director; and Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko nominated for next SIM International Director on SIM Website for more details.

                [1]Kwame Bediako, Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995), viii.

                [2]Andrew F. Walls, “World Christianity, Theological Education and Scholarship,” Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies, Vol. 28, No. 4 (October 2011), 238.

“Job Vacancies”: More Publishing Christian Authors Needed in Africa Urgently!

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.”[1] 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.”[2]

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.”[3] Walls however adds that Africa must bring intellectual and theological leadership to the wider church too.[4]

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.”[5] It is a call to the ministry of writing and publishing by all stakeholders within our faith community!

[1]Timothy Tennent, “The Translatability of the Christian Gospel”  A Convocation Address delivered at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2011.

[2] 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.

[3] Andrew Walls.

[4] Andrew Walls.

[5] Timothy Tennent.