Lessons from the Church in Kenya: Members or Disciples?
Q1: You were in America for 10 years and now you are back in Kenya. Were you encouraged by what you saw in the American church?
I was there for ten years and what saddened me most was to see the lukewarmness in the American church. And part of the reason is that the working of the Holy Spirit is so suffocated. It’s like the third person of the Trinity is not in existence.
Kenyans have the temptation to revert back into rituals to appease the gods of their tribal worldview. But Americans have their own deception. And if I were to pull a parallel between Kenya and America, I would say that Americans have their own gods–often entertainment and sports.
Because of the huge importance Americans place on entertainment, the American church has been using the strategy of making the church look like an entertainment place. I think that’s a mistake, because people feel like that they can choose between the church and other entertainment joints. The church does not present itself for what it is. Instead, it’s trying to compete to try and win people using entertainment.
Q2: Members and disciples. What’s the difference?
It is very possible to end up with members and not true disciples. People who just show up to church on Sunday because they are coming for attendance. They aren’t coming to hear from Jesus or to convert. And so you don’t end up with disciples; you end up with members.
A disciple is a devout, disciplined follower of Jesus Christ. This means being devoted to the Word of God and prayer and fellowship of believers. These three make a disciple.
Just a member does not care much about those three things. He just shows up to church on and off. He doesn’t really read the Bible. He just relies on the prayers made for him in church.
Q3: What do you do to deepen the disciples?
I break my congregation down to where they are spiritually. I have the new converts. For the new converts, I connect them with mature Christians who are responsible for helping them along. I will also come in at certain times to help lead them through certain teachings.
We have people who are somewhere in the middle; they’re not new converts, but they are also not mature. I help those in the middle and those who are mature by teaching a series of discipling classes.
You can have people who can look very spiritual, but they can be very poor when it comes to knowledge of the Word of God. That’s why I set aside a lot of time to teach. What is justification? Sanctification? Baptism? What is the Trinity? I want to make sure that people understand these things, in addition to teaching the various books of the Bible.
When their faith is deep and then you teach them the doctrines, they become very strong.
There is that danger of ending up with people who look to be very spiritual, but they are very poor as far as what they believe. So how will these people pass on what they believe? What if it’s not biblical? So, for me, I have decided that I will devote a lot of time in teaching them.