Dear Friends and Family,
My trip finished with an encouraging meeting with Pastor Stephen Anyenda of Nyali Baptist Church in Mombasa. Pastor Stephen is the moderator for the Southern Baptist churches in Kenya. He said the number of Southern Baptist churches are between 1500-2000. We have had two seminars at Ridgeways Baptist in Nairobi and wanted to make ITEM available to the denomination in Kenya.
Pastor Stephen, as the moderator, stays busy. We had planned on meeting right after church but he was called out of town at the last minute and did not get back into town until about 5:30pm. It was then that we met.
Not only was I encouraged by the meeting but I was also encouraged by what I experienced at Nyali Baptist this morning.
ENCOURAGED BY THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TEADHER
In our seminars we say it over and over. “Pastors, your call as a preacher is outlined in 1 Tom 4:13, ‘… give your attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching.’ That is, read the text, explain the text, apply the text.”
That is what the Sunday School teacher was doing. He was teaching through Acts and was in chapter 18. He was reading a few verses, explaining them in context, then applying them and engaging the class in conversation regarding the verses.
Then in the church service, the one who was preaching, the Executive Pastor, was doing the same from John 20. He didn’t spend a whole lot of time explaining the text but he stayed with the context and applied it pretty well. This approach to the Scriptures is hard to find in Africa, even among seminary grads.
ENCOURAED BY PASTOR STEPHEN ANYENDA
Pastor Stephen was called out of Mombasa on the eastern coast of Kenya, to the western part to deal with some conflicts the churches there are dealing with. So, he was in transit much of the day and got back to his church around 5:30pm. He graciously invited us into his office. We acknowledged his busy schedule and asked how much time he had. He didn’t give any restriction at all.
The church was started in 1992 as a home Bible study by missionaries. Stephen became the pastor in 1995. You will see from the pictures that the church is doing well, by God’s grace. He took almost the first hour answering out questions about him and the church. Then Steven Mzungu, our Nairobi seminar organizer, who already knows Pastor Stephen (note difference in spelling), introduced me and gave some background that allowed me to share ITEM’s ministry and passion for building up the church.
When that part of our discussion was over, Pastor Stephen was ready to take the next step, which is to have a seminar in the coastal region of Kenya. No dates were set but we will begin going to work on it very soon.
THE MEASURE OF A SUCCESSFUL CHURCH
Steven Mzungu (seminar organizer) and I talked more at dinner. We talked about how unbiblical are the ways we measure a church’s success. He said, “Here in Kenya, success is measured by the number in attendance and the size of the offering.”
When we look at the NT we see that the most often used terms used by Paul to commend churches were faith, hope, and love. We point that out in one of our lectures. Size and offering size is never an issue. Both can be misleading because some of the largest in each of these categories teach false doctrine.
And when it comes to the pastor’s ministry, he is called to be a servant of Christ and a steward of God’s Word (1 Cor 4:2). That is it! It is unfortunate that so many pastors get caught up in the numbers game. In many cases it leads them into compromise in order to grow the numbers in attendance and the size of the offering.
THESE ARE MORE OF THE ISSUES WE REINFORCE AT OUR SEMINARS.
The trip home begins with a flight from Mombasa back to Nairobi, leaving Mombasa just past 5pm. Then I depart Nairobi around midnight Monday, heading into Tuesday. I transit, as usual, through Amsterdam, and am scheduled to touch down in Portland at 11:26am Tuesday.
Thanks for joining me on this trip. Your prayers are an important part! And I pray you have been encouraged by what you’ve read and have enjoyed the new format that begins in a Yahoo Group and ends up in a new ITEM Blog.
By His grace,