Learning from Africa

I was talking to a group of church leaders about what Oscar Muriu has taught me about growing leaders for a church planting movement.

One of them challenged me with, "How do we know this works in Australia?"

He's right. There are some things that don't translate across cultures. Or even within cultures. That's why I always look for principles not programs to replicate.

Here's a few principles on growing leaders that are just as true for Australians (equals westerners) as they are for Africans. . .

1. Start with a leader who gets it. You can't start with a good program. You start with a leader who sees the need. A leader who sees the opportunities. One who sees the leaders of the future all around them. The future he sees is just as real as the present and so he has no hesitation in the growing the leaders of tomorrow today.

2. Limit your ministry. Who ever heard of a great preacher who limits himself to preaching just half the time? Not only does he let his novices preach, now he has to devote his time to training them. Because you want to grow more preachers. Why limit the number of terms that elders can serve, then send them away on church planting teams? Because you want to grow more elders.

3. Go after youth. Oscar led a friendly takeover of the predominantly expatriate Nairobi Chapel. He intentionally went after young, university educated Africans. He reached them. He gave them leadership tasks and then recruited them to serve with him as church planters.

4. Back winners. Oscar invested both time and money in leaders who proved themselves. He gladly paid their way through Theological College if they first proved themselves and if they committed to serving for at least five years beyond their studies.

5. Train swimmers in the pool. In Oscar's leadership farm, you begin as a disciple, you become an apprentice, you are given limited responsibility, then you are trusted to lead a ministry team or plant a church. Oscar trains his swimmers in the pool, not the classroom. He takes many small risks with many people and creates environments where they can grow in knowledge, skills and character.

More to come. . .