«Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization. by Dean Frederick Sieberhagen submitted ...»
Like a young sapling that has put down roots in new soil, the Kazakh church whilst appearing somewhat fragile, seems here to stay. It appears to have passed what Kenneth Scott Latourette (Walls 2002:10) calls the church test where there is an identifiable Christian community that willing bears the name of Christ. Two decades of post Soviet church planting has resulted in a church that has grown geographically, numerically, and spiritually. Whilst proper contextualization leads to the growth of the church in a new culture, growth is not necessarily a sign of proper contextualization. When a culture goes through a crisis as was the case in Kazakhstan in the early post Soviet years, the church grew as there were Kazakhs who were willing to try anything new in search of a better life. Some things were done well from a contextualization standpoint and others were not. At the same time globalization began to have an effect and so the church planting context became increasingly complex. The findings of this study suggest applying important principles to this complex context, so that the Kazakh church can grow into a tree that stands tall, bearing fruit that reveals Jesus and his Kingdom as well as an authentic Kazakh identity. Challenges will blow hard at this tree and at times it will seem to bend alarmingly, but not so that it breaks.
To say that Kazakh church planting has or will be mistake-free is to ignore the reality of what church planting involves. Instead this study suggests careful reflection needs to be made so that lessons can be learned from what has been done well, what has been done poorly, and what has changed about the Kazakh context so that something new needs to be done. The Kazakh church must be given the grace both now and in the future to make mistakes and learn from them, which means that church planting will at times be messy, but nevertheless improve over time. Acknowledging that there will be mistakes should not be a deterrent to church planting as this has been the case throughout the history of the church in various contexts and yet the church continues to adapt and grow.
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