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«Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization. by Dean Frederick Sieberhagen submitted ...»

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Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between

contextualization and globalization.


Dean Frederick Sieberhagen

submitted in accordance with the requirements for

the degree of

Doctor of Theology

in the subject


at the

University of South Africa

Supervisor: Dr. Johannes Reimer

Co-supervisor: Dr. Keith Eitel

February 2013

Statement of Authorship

Student Number: 4182-695-7

I declare that

Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization.

is my own work and that all the sources that I have used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged by means of complete references.

Fort Worth, United States of America, 18-02-2013 Summary Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization By D F Sieberhagen Degree: Doctor of Theology Subject: Missiology Promoter: Dr J Reimer Joint promoter: Dr K Eitel The Kazakhs of post-Soviet Central Asia have been in the process of re-discovering their cultural heritage and establishing their own national identity. Profoundly affecting this process is that they live in a world that is becoming more and more globalized, with increasing degrees of interaction with other cultures. During Soviet times there was a large degree of isolation from cultures outside of the Soviet Union and their lives were mostly impacted by a Russian dominated system. After the collapse of the Soviet system they were suddenly exposed to a world of ideas, influences, and opportunities. Part of re-establishing their cultural roots involved consideration of their Islamic heritage. They were caught between trying to discover this for themselves and in doing so include cultural beliefs and practices that are blended into an orthodox expression of Islam, or allowing themselves to be told by outside practitioners of Islam how they should believe and act. Seventy plus years of communism had weakened the commitment and expression of Islam, and this as well as the forces of globalization has made them cautious and even suspicious of any radical expressions of religion. With the post-Soviet openness and exposure to other cultures came the opportunity for Christianity to present itself as a valid system of belief for Kazakhs. This began as an expatriate dominated exercise as individual Kazakhs embraced Christianity and the first churches were started. As the years progressed Kazakh church planting faced the challenge of having a foreign image and as a result needed to consider how to contextualize Christianity so that it could develop a Kazakh identity. At the same time church planting as with the Kazakh culture as a whole, was confronted with the impact of globalization. This meant that church planting had to not only consider Kazakh cultural factors but also what changes globalization would bring that impacted how church planting would be done. This study seeks to examine this church planting context that finds itself caught between the effects of contextualization and globalization, and by means of the principles of Grounded Theory discover principles for effective church planting

Key terms:

Globalization, contextualization, church planting, cultural heritage, identity, post-Soviet, beliefs and practices, grounded theory, Kazakh Christianity, effects of change.

Curriculum Vitae Personal Information  Dean Frederick Sieberhagen  Born in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, South Africa, 7 July 1964.

 South African citizen  Married to Sandra and have 4 sons Educational Background

1. Matriculated with a High School certificate in 1982 from Graeme College, Grahamstown, South Africa.

2. Graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1986 from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

3. Graduated with a Higher Diploma in Education in 1987 from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

4. Graduated in May 2001 with a Master of Divinity (with languages) from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. My area of specialization was International Church Planting.

Work Experience

 I served in the South African military from January 1987 to December 1988.

 I was a partner in a handcrafts retail and manufacturing business from 1989 to 1995.

 I was a staff member in the Accounting Department of Rhodes University and a member of the Commerce Faculty from 1992 to 1995.

 From 1997 to 1999 I worked as the People Link Coordinator for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The primary purpose of this work was to facilitate partnerships between Southern Baptist churches and the Mission field.

 From 1999 to 2001 I worked for Senim humanitarian aid company in Shymkent, Kazakstan. I started a small business development program and taught small business development courses.

 From 2002 to current I work as the director of Senim in the Almaty, Kazakstan head office.


My family and I moved to Kazakhstan in 1999 where I took up a position as a Small Business Teacher/ Trainer with a humanitarian organization called Senim Central Asia. We were both fascinated and challenged by our new lives in an area of the world we knew very little about.

Learning the language and understanding the culture were high priorities, and we found the local Kazakhs to be very patient, friendly, and helpful to us. We are very committed to our Christian faith and the impact it has on other religions and cultures and so tried to understand the complex religious environment in which we found otherselves. The Kazakh people had just come through seventy plus years of Communism and were trying to rediscover their Muslim roots. They also lived amongst people such as Russians and Koreans who practiced their own religions, with everyone having to adjust to a world that was becoming more global and causing interactions with outside cultures and religions. We ourselves were evidence of such interaction.

We began to meet Kazakhs who called themselves believers or followers of Jesus the Messiah and helped them with the development of Kazakh Christianity and the starting of churches. All of this stimulated a strong desire in me to research church planting in this unique and complex context and so upon meeting Dr Johannes Reimer at a conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, I discovered the opportunity to undertake such research through the Department of Missiology at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Although the postsoviet Kazakh church was still very young, I was able to talk directly with Kazakhs about the church planting they were doing which led to me to study and apply the social science method known as Grounded Theory.

I am so blessed by and grateful to my Kazakh believer friends who were prepared to be open and honest about their experiences and my prayer is for their perseverance and joy in the Lord. I am also grateful to my family who loved me through all the highs and lows, in particular Sandra who defines what a wonderful wife and mother should be. Thank you to Dr Keith Eitel for all his years of encouragement, I look forward to many years of us reaching the edge together. Thank you to Arthur Rempel and GBFE for your administrative assistance and in particular to Dr Johannes Reimer for believing in me and being patient when I was struggling through the writing process. Thank you for the pointed advice in helping to guide my thoughts and deal with my shortcomings. Finally, thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for without you my life is chasing after the wind.

–  –  –

Introduction Chapter 1: Research Methodology and introducing the concepts of Contextualization, Globalization, and Church Planting

1.1 Research Methodology

–  –  –

1.3 The Limitations of Grounded Theory

1.4 The Missions and Contextualization Debate

1.5 The Missions and Globalization Debate

1.6 Church Planting Theory

–  –  –

Chapter 2: The Historical Religious Identity of the Kazakhs

2.1 The Growth of an Islamic Identity

2.2 The Jadid Movement

2.3 The Alash Orda Movement

2.4 Kazakh Religion under Communism

2.5 Kazakh Religion Post-Communism

–  –  –

2.6 Traditional, Modern, and Russified Kazakhs 2.6.1 Traditional Kazakhs 2.6.2 Modern Kazakhs 2.6.3 Russified Kazakhs

2.7 Key elements of Kazakh Belief and Practice 2.7.1 Sufi Saints and Shrines 2.7.2 Remembrance Meals and the Hospitality Virtue 2.7.3 Dreams 2.7.4 Shamanism, Tengrism, and Healers

–  –  –

2.7.7 The Qu’ran 2.7.8 Purity 2.7.9 Celebration Days

2.8 Globalization and the Kazakhs 2.8.1 The Rise of Globalization 2.8.2 Defining Globalization 2.8.3 The Example of Turkey

–  –  –

2.9 Conclusion Chapter 3: The Application of Grounded Theory to the Research Data

3.1 Semi-structured Questionaire Generation and Description

3.2 Selection of Interviewees

3.3 Codes and Categories arising from the Data 3.3.1 Category 1: Kazakh Cultural Traditions 3.3.2 Category 2: Commitment to Islam 3.3.3 Category 3: The Influence of the West 3.3.4 Category 4: New Technology 3.3.5 Category 5: Reaching the Next Generation 3.3.6 Category 6: Key Segments for the Growth of the Church 3.3.7 Category 7: Specific Methods for Evangelism, Discipleship and Church Planting 3.3.8 Category 8: Challenges to the Growth of the Church 3.3.9 Category: 9 Three Categories of Kazakhs 3.3.10 Category 10: Small Groups and House Churches 3.3.11 Category 11: Baggage from the Past 3.3.12 Category 12 The Five-Self Paradigm

3.4 Analysis of the Categories

3.5 Conclusion Chapter 4: Emerging Theory Related to Kazakh Church Planting

4.1 The Kazakh Cultural Identity Continuum

4.2 Contextual Considerations 4.2.1 Church and Theology in Context

–  –  –

4.4 Leadership Chapter 5: Missiological Reflections

5.1 Identity

5.2 Character 5.2.1 Hope 5.2.2 Heroes and Pioneers 5.2.3 Work Ethic

5.3 Participation

5.4 Contexts within Contexts

5.5 The Bible and Theology 5.5.1 Formal or Informal Training 5.5.2 Cost and Access to Materials 5.5.3 Knowledge or Character 5.5.4 Teaching Methods 5.5.5 A Lack of Vision and Planning 5.5.6 Curriculum Design

5.6 The Bible and Contextualization

5.7 Islam’s Influence on the Kazakh Context

5.8 A Missionary Vision

5.9 Leadership 5.9.1 Generational Leadership 5.9.2 Influence 5.9.3 Passivity 5.9.4 Intellectual Merit 5.9.5 Creating or Equipping Conclusion Bibliography Introduction Kim biledi? (Who knows?), is the most common response I have heard when asking Kazakhs to explain all that is happening in their country. They had seventy plus years of communism where, despite all the shortcomings, they could count on life being relatively routine and predictable. The end of the Soviet era caught them by surprise and suddenly everything began to change. Some changes seemed for the good such as the freedom to openly express ideas and beliefs, and the ownership of property. Other changes seemed onerous such as the burden to pay for services that had previously been state sponsored and perhaps hardest of all, the shutdown of many avenues of previously guaranteed employment. The first ten years after communism represent years of difficulty for most Kazakhs with a focus on just trying to survive and look after one’s own. Economic hardships overshadowed concerns for other aspects of culture and life. In particular, the re-establishment of religious observance was continually compromised by the need for financial security.

Applying the distinction between believing Muslims and believing/practicing Muslims, Kazakhs mostly fall into the former category. Kazakh scholars Chokan and Murat Laumulin (2009) coin their own phrase to describe this by saying that Kazakhs are not yet Muslim. To even call them believing Muslims in the classical sense does not seem appropriate as many are unable to articulate even the basic tenets of formal Islamic belief. As Bruce Privatsky (2000) points out however, we must consider what those Kazakhs who are serious about their religion mean by their Islamic beliefs. Even if they do not follow orthodox Islam, is their practice not valid for their particular form of Islam? The Laumulins (2009) argue that historically Kazakhs have not made a strong commitment to the teachings of orthodox Islam but rather given stronger attention to Shamanism, ancestor spirits and holy places. This atmosphere they argue was then well suited to the introduction of the Sufi form of Islam with its mystic influence.1 In the last ten years going back to the turn of the century there has been growing stability and less of the post-communism desperation so that Kazakhs are able to look beyond basic needs towards a revival of cultural pride and practice.

Accompanying this is a consideration of religion involving what it means to be Muslim within a Kazakh context. The result has been a stronger rejection of those who seek to impose a different religious view, including Christianity and some of the stricter forms of Islam such as Wahhabism.

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