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MMD responds to contemporary trends in African Christianity

by John Jusu, MMD curriculum administrator

It is common knowledge that Christianity in Africa is growing at an alarming rate, but the quality of Christian life, influence and commitment in situations where the church is growing is dwindling.

Africa is rapidly becoming Christian in the same measure it is rapidly becoming one of the most corrupt and unsafe places to live, as poverty, disease and wars continue to ravage communities. This inverse relationship between Christian growth and societal vices has become a defining factor for the ministry of More than a Mile Deep (MMD).

Theological training within the seminary and the Bible colleges has been deemed irrelevant to the point that many are referring to the seminaries as cemeteries. Consequently, many organizations are now mass-training church workers without proper attention to the effectiveness and efficacy of the training. The interest has been in numbers and not quality.

Training facilitators in Africa
Training facilitators who train Christians in hostile contexts

MMD is thus caught between seminaries deemed ineffective at producing ministers for the church, and the non-formal modes of training mushrooming across Africa, mass producing without tangible results in terms of quality of pastoral leadership. These mass-trained pastors — and sometimes self-trained pastors — have misled the church into heresy.

MMD is now responding in meaningful ways to the needs of these two training paradigms.

  1. MMD recently signed a memorandum of understanding with South African Theological Seminary (SATS). The memorandum allows credits earned by students in MMD programs to be transferred to the seminary. To this effect, SATS can offer its degrees to MMD students. This is significant for credentialing purposes. There is now a clear path for our students to continue their studies to a doctoral level. This opens the door for MMD to rescue some dying theological institutions and to influence their programs with the aim of converting them from “cemeteries” to transformational sites.
  2. To help the institutions that are mass producing, MMD has gone into other modes of delivery which will attract students and add credence to these institutions. In Burundi, for example, MMD is producing and experimenting with a vernacular curriculum and also offered a workshop to MMD trainers about orality as a means of learning. Orality and vernacular curriculum have the potential to help MMD reach a wider audience with quality theological education.

To remain relevant to issues in Africa, MMD has started to review all its courses. Courses currently under review are Transforming Communities through Holistic Engagement, Pastoral Guidance and Counselling in the Era of HIV/AIDS and Practical Christian Living. These courses are now more than ten years old and ready for updates.

In addition, MMD is developing new courses and conducting writers’ workshops. Three courses are now on the verge of pilot testing: Managing Conflicts in Africa, Handling Witchcraft and Witchcraft Accusation and Discipling the African Youth. The framework for engaging universities, Bible colleges and seminaries desiring a transformational curriculum has been designed and is currently under review. And, we have organized and carried out seminars for course writers in Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya.

MMD training of trainers
MMD training of trainers: use what you have