«Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization. by Dean Frederick Sieberhagen submitted ...»
5.9.5 Creating or Equipping If church leadership is a skill or set of skills, then leadership can be created by taking any believer and training them in that skill. If however leadership is a calling with an emphasis on character, then the task is to equip the leaders that God has already revealed. In the Kazakh context, leadership training in the Post-Soviet period was offered to anyone who wanted to attend and whilst some were equipped for their current leadership roles, for many it was more discipleship training than leadership training, evidenced by a comparison of the numbers who went through training with those in leadership in the church.
The Kazakh church whilst still young has nevertheless matured enough where there are leaders who have been in their role for a number of years. These leaders along with expatriate partners need to be attentive to the new leaders that God is calling and include a strong mentoring component to the leadership training. Biblical models such as Jesus with the twelve disciples and Paul with Timothy need to be followed so that new leaders acquire the necessary knowledge and see the life of a leader lived out before them. Mari Gonlag (1996:213) explains that the mentor needs to focus on specific functions. Applying these to the Kazakh situation, the mentor needs to model what both personal and public ministry looks like, beginning in the home. The mentor sponsors in terms of the appropriate protecting and supporting of the new leader, and whilst dependency is a risk this must be worked through.
The mentor encourages by affirming and inspiring, counsels by clarifying and advising, and importantly befriends the new leader so that they develop intimacy towards a future colaborer relationship
5.10 Conclusion The question of identity is a theme that has emerged, and as much as the church planter needs to do an indepth study of this in Kazakh society, they need to pay equal attention to the identity that the church takes on. The Kazakh churches that are planted must balance a biblical with a cultural identity to be truly called a Kazakh (cultural) Church (Biblical). What form or model this church takes may vary according to the particular context, with the impact of globalization creating new contexts. Whatever the form, the church must provide community and at times be willing to counter the negative effects of globalization, offering hope to those who end up marginalized. This means it will not always simply blend into the culture, but at times stand out and demonstrate a godly character to society as a whole.
Believers in the church need to live out a faith that shows how they have found satisfaction and significance in the Gospel so that those outside the church are drawn to what Kazakh Christianity has to offer. For this to happen the church must place a high value on discipleship and participation, allowing believers to be active members of the church.
The establishment of the Modern Kazakh Church is crucial to effective church planting and must allow for creativity, sponteneity, and personal contribution. It must address the challenge of relativism that globalization brings, as well as incorporate the importance of family in the Kazakh context. Basic to the MKC is the development of leaders that are well trained in Biblical theology so that they can address the questions that the culture as a whole and Islam in particular throw at the church. At the same time these leaders need to display a godly character. How this training takes place gives rise to many issues and challenges that need to be answered by the church planter.
Conclusion Bolashak (future) is a word that is used daily in all aspects of Kazakh life. Kazakhs want to know that the future for them and their families is one of hope and success. Questions are raised as to how much needs to be learned from the past. Should beliefs and practices from the ancestors be revived or should greater emphasis be placed on adapting and thriving in a new globalized world? This study has show Kazakhs at all levels of society are finding their lives impacted by rapid change, with the forces of contextualization and globalization pulling them in various directions. The implications for church planting must be considered and those who seek to church plant cannot complacently assume that how church planting was done is how it will always be. The findings in this study contribute to the knowledge and practice of effective church planting within the current Kazakh context by causing church planting practitioners to evaluate how they deal with the influences of contextualization and globalization. Some of the principles apply beyond the current context offering ideas that church planting needs to consider in a future filled with change.
This study has examined the Kazakh culture with a special focus on the role of religion. The emerging theory shows that it is not sufficient to describe all Kazakhs simply as Muslim. Specific contexts need to be studied so that the Kazakhs within those can be identified on a continuum from Traditional through Modern to Russified. With this as a starting point, the church planter can then undertake a detailed study of what is believed and practiced in that particular micro context. Certainly there are general beliefs and practices to do with areas such as ancestor spirits, rites of passage, and celebration times, but each of these has its own nuances depending on the specific context. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the time has come for church planting to tailor its approach to each setting which by implication means that within the church planting community, both expatriate and local, there needs to be an acceptance and affirmation of a variety of approaches. At the same time church planting must be self-critical so that even if methods vary, the resulting churches retain a Biblical identity.
Historically, the discovery of what a Biblical identity is has been clouded by the preconceptions of the various church planters and their backgrounds and so the emerging theory in this study is that Kazakh church planters themselves need to apply the translation model and go directly to the Bible and discover what church is. This does not mean that there is no role for outsiders, but rather that it needs to be one of guiding and assisting rather than prescribing. In particular, the Kazakh churches that are second generation and beyond must be allowed to develop on their own with expatriate assistance only given when asked for and then only if absolutely needed. This will provide a basis for evaluating whether these churches are able to carry on a movement of church planting that is both Biblical and Kazakh.
Church planting must deal with the issue of appearance. The emerging theory shows that the majority of Kazakhs like to appear religious and proudly proclaim that they are Muslims. The primary way to appear Islamic is through places and events rather than daily ritual/ expression. As explained in the theory to do with identity, whilst the Kazakh church at one level needs to appear Kazakh, at another level it must be in contrast and strive for a religious expression that goes beyond appearances. It must show a depth and authenticity that is seen in a daily relationship with God which impacts daily relationships with others.
Part of appearing Islamic is for a person to say that to be Kazakh is to be Muslim, it is who you are at birth. Without compromising the teachings of the Bible, the church must embrace all that it is to be Kazakh so that increasingly it will become possible to say that being a Kazakh Christian is an authentic identity. As Lamin Sanneh (1993:120) explains, Christianity which originated in the Middle East was imported to areas such as the West and over time there arose a Western Christianity that has become so entrenched that it seems to have always existed. For non-Western cultures such as the Kazakh, Christianity and the West have become one and the same so that introducing Christianity is to introduce Westernization.
In areas such as Africa and China, an indigenous church is arising that does not bear the identity of the West and the Kazakh church along with others in Central Asia need to learn from this so that Kazakh Christianity does not mean Western Christianity.
Another way of looking at appearance is to speak of presence. Kazakhs seem happy with the presence of Islam around them so that there are Mosques and the Quran. Kazakh Christianity must be more than just presence or it risks remaining on the periphery with the image of a sect. The theory in this study does advocate that in terms of the negative aspects of globalization, the periphery may at times be the right place to be where the Kazakh church challenges those aspects of society that are ungodly. Good contextualization however does mean that the church should not find itself on the periphery due to a lack of relevance. Whilst formal, Quran-based Islam is not seen as a sect by society, yet it seems to be moved towards the periphery with the syncretizing effect of Kazakh folk Islam playing a more prominent role.
Kazakh Christianity must avoid allowing a syncretistic folk expression of itself to develop that easily slides into society without causing too much attention. There must be a transforming, impacting effect that the church has on society, where even if there are clashes, society is better off because of the presence of Christianity. This then gives rise to the priority and importance of the character the church displays. In other words, church planting that is not just to place the presence of a church in a community, but also giving priority as to how it exists in the community. The character of Jesus must be lived out by the church even if opposition arises.
To plant churches that will both identify with and impact Kazakh society means that the focus and methods of church planting need to be carefully considered. Theory in this study proposes that Modern Kazakhs represent the church planting focus that will have the greatest impact on the growth of the church. They are able to relate to both the Russified and Traditional Kazakhs and thereby help to reach them. They are also best positioned to consider change and attempt to give local expression to the influences of globalization (glocalize). A Modern Kazakh Church must exist that is given freedom to incorporate aspects such as new technology, musical styles, dance, and choice of language. The church planter must understand the changing nature of the Modern Kazakh’s life and the demands made on their time. The Modern Kazakh Church is also likely to be most open to other people groups and so is able to embrace and promote a missions vision. The Kazakh Church’s burden to reach other people groups will be a key marker as to its health. To some extent this will mean the church acts counter to its own culture which tends to look down on many of the other people groups.
Whilst there are good arguments for the various models of church, the emerging theory to do with the House Church model discussed in chapter four, is critical for effective Kazakh church planting, from Traditional through Modern to Russified. The House Church model enables the church to position itself well to take advantage of cultural elements such as hospitality and the importance of family. It also helps the church to adapt to the changes brought about by globalization, meeting needs for intimacy and relationship. The House Church model does raise the issue of leadership and how this would differ from a traditional, up front, dominant leadership style.
Chapter four and five discuss how leadership training has been and will be at the core of Kazakh church planting. A Bible school approach where essential knowledge is acquired in a classroom setting is very challenging under the current religious laws. Creative alternatives must be found without local church planters having to leave their context for lengthy periods of time. Additionally, there must be a strong mentoring component where the more experienced church planters, both expatriate and local, live life alongside the new leaders, demonstrating the Gospel lived out in their lives. In particular a servant style of leadership must be modeled even though it is likely to conflict with the styles proposed by both the Kazakh culture and globalization. An important aspect of leadership is for the Kazakh church to overcome the inclination for Kazakh leaders to simply tell the expatriate mentor what they think they need to hear. There must be opportunity to question and even disagree with the expatriate point of view.
The long term health of the Kazakh church is going to require Bible teachers and theologians that are equipped to help the church navigate the challenges and opportunities that both contextualization and globalization bring. Up to the present context this has been dominated by expatriates and as helpful as they have tried to be, methods must be found to see that this becomes more indigenous. This requires training as mentioned before, but then once trained, Kazakhs stepping up to train others, teach seminars, write books and articles, and make use of electronic resources such as websites. A specific example would be that instead of merely translating a confession of faith, Kazakh theologians study what others have done and then write their own which would contain the Biblical essentials and yet be as Kazakh as possible.56 In other words, the Translation model of contextual theology would be applied. At the same time insights from the other models can be added, such as taking care of the poor and marginalized, and in this way the church represents the whole Gospel.
Part of the journey towards the Kazakh church becoming self-theologizing from a Biblical point of view, must include working through difficult issues that require both the expatriate and Kazakh theologian to do research, pray about, and undertake detailed discussion. There are commitments and beliefs within Kazakh culture that require careful analysis so that recommendations can be made as to how to respond. Theologizing must be Steve Strauss (2006:140) cautions that these confessions or creeds should not be equated with Scripture, but rather they represent cultural forms in which truth is expressed. He contends that as church leaders in various cultures work through this they are able to contribute a unique perspective and thereby enrich the theology of the global church.
modeled as a dynamic and continual process of discovery, with the basic understanding that there are underlying, universal truths. This creates a confidence in theologizing by providing a base against which discovery can be measured.