Why is TOPIA passionate about developing church leaders?
1. A worldwide lack of a Biblical worldview and lifestyle.
In the light of the lifestyle of many believers in Africa, the church in Africa is often compared to a wide, but shallow lake or river. In other words there are many believers in Africa, but very few who bring God glory through their daily lifestyle. In Africa for example there are believers that believe in the God of the Bible and still pray to spirits of forefathers. This mixture of opposing beliefs leads others to say that the church in Africa is broad, but shallow.
The problem with this statement is that this statement is also true of many churches throughout the world. The statement should rather be that many churches throughout the world could be compared with a wide, but shallow lake or river. The mixture of worshipping the God of the Bible and putting trust in material things are also idol worship and just as wrong as worshipping spirits as well as the God of the Bible. God clearly says that believers must worship and trust Him and Him alone.
Therefore many churches throughout the world must turn back to God and God alone. This is also true of many churches in Africa. God’s church, His households and His children all need to start living like Jesus Christ did. The way we live, work, play, talk and think must inspire our neighbors and the communities we live in, to praise and honor God.
To address this lack of a biblical lifestyle, we need to transform our thinking. Biblical transformation starts with the renewing of the mind. If you want to change behavior, you need to address thinking. The way we think determines the way we act. If we want to change lifestyle, we need to address worldview. We need to focus on the roots and not just on the fruits.
To turn the tide, church leaders need to take the lead. If we want churches that impact communities and nations to God’s glory, church leaders need to change their thinking. To address the lack of a daily Biblical lifestyle, TOPIA facilitates Biblical worldview development of church leaders in Africa.
2. A leadership gap: 90% of church leaders lack training
TOPIA is serving the church in Africa by helping to close the leadership gap. In the last 40 years there was a great expansion of the Christian faith in Africa. The church has grown very quickly. Big mass evangelism crusades have taken place. Millions have seen the Jesus film and accepted Christ as their Savior. Door-to-door, house-to-house, village-to-village personal evangelism has been done. There was a focus on unreached people groups. Church planting through local believers spread into a movement that planted thousands of churches throughout Africa. This is good news, but the growth of churches was much faster than the church’s development of church leaders. Many church leaders lack basic leadership development. Up to 90% of church leaders in Africa are in need of leadership development.
The existing methods of training church leaders are just too slow and very expensive. Bible colleges and seminaries can only train 10% of the needed leaders. The training done by colleges and seminaries are mostly too academic for the needs of the local church. The training takes place far from the local situation and family life and community life are interrupted. In many cases the trained church leaders are not able to adapt back into their local communities after they have been trained.
The method of teaching in a loving father-son relationship is good soil to develop Christ-like servant leaders. A great weakness of existing training is that the loving father-son relationship as seen between Paul and Timothy is mostly lacking. The outcome of this shortfall is that little is done to develop the character of church leaders.
A good solution in developing many more Christ-like servant church leaders is, to take the training to them. One of the advantages of this kind of training is that it is more sustainable and a big portion of the training can be done with local resources. The training is in-service and much closer to the local situation. Character development can also be modeled and skills can be developed in the community where God calls the leader to serve.
3. God’s passion for all nations.
The third great reason to develop church leaders is, to share God’s passion for all nations. In the past few years there have been a big shift in the Christian faith. For many years the Christian church was much bigger in the western northern half of the world. This has changed. The southern half of the world has more Christians today than the northern half. Africa is part of the Southern half and the church in Africa has grown very quickly over last 40 years.
In the same period, churches in the West and especially in Europe are dying. Today the biggest growth of churches in Europe is churches formed by people moving from Africa and Asia to stay in Europe. This is where we have a great opportunity as African churches. If we can send mature African believers, grounded in a Biblical worldview, that live a daily Biblical lifestyle in all areas of life, we can start winning the West back for God’s glory and His kingdom. This is another reason why TOPIA is passionately committed to help with the development of Christ-like servant leaders that will inspire and guide their communities in Africa and the West to bring glory to God.