Sammy in action. It was great to see a number of Midrand Chapel folk that had never been involved in evangelism coming and taking part. Gavin is somewhere in the dark recess of this photo. Click image to enlarge.
It is not easy planting a church across racial, social and economic divides in South Africa. We’ve been so insulated and segregated by Apartheid that even today we’re often misaligned from and misconceive one another. The missing link is of course communication. The more information our church gets regarding the ups and the downs, the good and bad, the challenge and the victory the better Midrand Chapel will relate and interact with the community we’re trying to reach with the Gospel. The leadership of Midrand Chapel will need to work on bettering interaction and communication to their congregation as they’re not currently facilitating this process adequately.
I was very encouraged to see that the various mercy ministries and outreach opportunities at Olieven are being well supported by Midrand Chapel congregants. There is a ground swell of enthusiasm in the church around being part of God’s mandate to reach out to the nations.
We borrow equipment from Campus Crusade for Christ. This was the first time I had watched the Jesus Film. Click image to enlarge.
On the evening of the first showing of the Jesus Film I asked Sammy, “What time should I tell the helpers to arrive?” His response confounded my Western mindset, “When the sun goes down.”
His disregard for a set time suited the event however. The atmosphere was relaxed with little regard for beginnings or endings. People strolled in and out of range as they felt comfortable the whole evening. In fact my internal desire to over plan things would have been a hindrance given the context.
Vagueness however is not only restricted to time in Africa. It tends to extend to other aspects of organisation like planning, coordination and accountability as well. Because Olieven is being planted by Midrand Chapel, a Western influenced congregation, it is here that Sammy needs to develop.
In Olieven a false link exists between Sunday services and salvation as if church attendance buys a ticket into heaven. Tent ministries abound and yet spiritual maturity seems a mile wide and an inch deep.
Sammy runs mid week Bible studies rather than formal Sunday services. His hope is to develop authentic ‘Ecclesiastical Theology’ over time and teaching.
Evangelism is impeded because people cling to a religiosity without relationship, knowledge without knowing and circumcised behaviours rather than circumcised hearts.
In Olieven, Bible studies, Jesus Film showings and other outreaches are marked by a glaring absence of committed men.
In Titus Paul stresses the importance of appointing elders as protectors, feeders and leaders of the flock. He reserves this office for men. Therein lies a problem for this church plant. Biblically qualified male leadership is in short supply.
A spiral of social degradation has robbed the church of a generation of suitable male shepherds. If autonomy requires a plurality of elders then training followed by time is going to be needed.