Building mature churches in Africa : a practical-theological study
Cantrell, Timothy Wendell
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In this thesis the researcher argues that churches in Africa are being planted rapidly but are not growing to maturity, which produces troubling consequences. The Baptist Union of Southern Africa (BUSA) is then given as a representative case study of church planting in Afiica, because from 1990 they have seen as many as 413 new churches started. Yet there is growing concern over the stability of many of these young churches and their leaders. Key leaders in the BUSA are calling for an analysis of the church planting and a greater emphasis on church strengthening and equipping. Next, the researcher lays the exegetical foundation for building mature churches, drawing from Acts and the Pauline epistles. In Acts, keys for the growth of the church are given. In Paul's writings, the researcher identifies the core principles and content used in establishing churches. Next come the field research findings that show the condition of churches and church planting in the BUSA The research was conducted through church leader surveys and key interviews, supplemented by observations of Christ Seminary faculty in their training of pastors from these churches. Some disturbing statistics and characteristics of these young churches emerge. The researcher then seeks to demonstrate how to analyse the health of churches and church planting in Africa by interacting with the field research in light of Scripture. An analysis is given of the strengths and weaknesses of the BUSA's younger churches, in the areas of their evangelism, their establishing of the members, and their entrusting of leadership. Cautions were given against unbiblical church growth trends. Finally, the researcher offers suggestions and strategies for building stronger churches in Africa. He states, "In order for the gospel to steadily advance through the BUSA or through any churches in Africa, mother churches and church planters must take responsibility for strengthening young churches until they have qualified elders and are mature, reproducing churches."
- Theology 
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