«Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization. by Dean Frederick Sieberhagen submitted ...»
1.6 The Missions and Globalization Debate In chapter one the concept of globalization was introduced, including its impact on Islam as a whole and the Kazakh context specifically. Given that background there is now a need to look at globalization within missions. Schreiter (1997:26) shows how globalization has had a threefold effect on the way theology is done in context. Firstly, the boundaries that separate people have changed from geographic to those of differences in cultural identity. The places where Kazakhs live are now easily accessible from a physical point of view so that the church planter’s challenge is now to understand how a particular Kazakh sub-culture sees the world differently. The second effect is that many people now interact within more than one culture and end up with a sense of belonging to multiple cultures. Thirdly, all cultures are at various stages of being influenced by other cultures so that it is no longer possible to speak of a pure, isolated cultural identity. The implication for theology is that as the cultures continue to change so theology will need to continually adapt in terms of how it is communicated.
Kevin Vanhoozer (2006:101) laments the homogenizing effect of globalization on the church. He argues that we must distinguish between world Christianity and globalized Christianity. In world Christianity there is room for individual cultures to give their own responses to the gospel whereas in globalized Christianity everything is reduced to a general, generic experience. This leaves two choices for the Kazakh church, either it will be swallowed up in a general globalized Christianity, or it will take its unique place in, and contribution to world Christianity. Implied in this is an intentionality.
Bob Roberts looks at the opportunities globalization gives Christianity in saying “globalization has the potential to take the idea of God’s kingdom farther than ever before as it relates to our understanding of how we use all the domains of society to operate” (2007:34).
All of this means that consideration must be given to how globalization is influencing both the Kazakh worldview and their way of life. There are now new ways of doing things, in particular in how we interact with others. The Kazakh church has the opportunity to take advantage of this.
Day (1996: 119) argues for three responses to the global world in which missions exists. Firstly, the redemptive message of the Gospel must be taught in a context that the missionary has carefully sought to understand in terms of past and current social and global trends. Secondly, any people or programs that no longer have a relevant voice in a changing world need to be discarded. Thirdly, the missionary must walk in humble, yet confident obedience to the God who is in control of a global world. Church planting in the Kazakh context must include all three responses.
Galadima (2003: 194) argues that not only has globalization created a new environment for religion, but it also created values that if adopted will seek to change religion.
Specifically he points out the values of relativism and pluralism which thrive in the global village. These present a significant challenge to both the traditional religious beliefs of the Kazakhs, as well as to the planting of Kazakh churches. For Christianity to remain relevant, Galadima proposes that it apply itself to the problems that people in a globalized world face, such as HIV/AIDS and racism. This is relevant to the Kazakh church in light of the many issues in Kazakh society such as HIV/AIDS, economic instability and injustice, poverty, and ethnic tensions.
Araujo (2003: 230) presents what is possibly the greatest tension between globalization and evangelical missions. He speaks of the pressure that globalization exerts on Christianity to live at peace and co-exist with other religions, so that convictions need to be compromised for the common good. He argues that for this to happen Christianity in essence would deny its very nature and purpose for it can only hold to one worldview. Globalization in the Kazakh context may cause the Kazakh expression of Islam to compromise and accommodate others, leaving the Kazakh church with the challenge of remaining ideologically distinct yet culturally relevant. As Araujo puts it “This question of being in but not of the world is at the root of how we understand the church’s relation to the world’s globalizing process” (: 231).
Kazakh church planting that is both effective and relevant must give detailed consideration to the many challenges and opportunites that globalization brings. In the interviewing of Kazakh pastors, issues in globalization need to be raised and discussed so that the research data is able to reflect the impact of globalization on Kazakh church planting. In light of this current theories in church planting need to be examined.
1.7 Church Planting Theory Church planting in and of itself is a broad topic ranging from a macro (movement) level to a micro (individual church) level. In this study the term is used to describe the starting of a community (congregation) of believers. In the introduction this community of believers was defined as a church that is characterized by a commitment to Scripture, a commitment (covenant) to each other and a common faith, a practice of communion and baptism, and a desire to share the gospel.
Within the evangelical church planting community there would be general agreement with the definition above, with perhaps a few variations. Debate enters in when consideration is given as to how these churches need to be planted, and what they should look like. Charles Brock (1994: 90) offers what remains a widely used paradigm for answering how churches
should be planted. He refers to it as the five “selfs” as follows:
a. Self-governing – the local church makes its own decisions under the Lordship of
b. Self-supporting – the local church has adequate resources to take care of its needs.
c. Self-teaching – the local church involves its members in ministry, in particular as
e. Self-propagating – the church shares its faith and starts new churches.
Expatriate church planters run the risk of dominating the Kazakh church planting or at least causing a significant delay in allowing Kazakh believers to be the primary church planters.
Certainly there are inherent problems in throwing a Kazakh believer into church planting before they are ready, but Brock’s self paradigm helps to drive church planting towards that which is by and for Kazakhs, what he calls indigenous.
Related to the idea of an indigenous church is an approach that goes farther and advocates for a community of believers that remains within its previous religious tradition.
Coleman (2011) gives a detailed description of this position called Insider Movement, some the ideas of which will be discussed in the analysis of the codes and categories arising from the research data. In summary it would advocate for Kazakh church planting that allows Kazakh believers to keep a Muslim identity and much of their Muslim practices.
John Travis (1999: 658) describes a spectrum of communities of believers found across the Muslim world. His description has drawn praise for helping to delineate the complexities of starting churches amongst Muslims, and at the same time criticism from those who see the spectrum as being too wide and straying outside the Biblical mandate for
church. The spectrum in summary is as follows:
C1 – A traditional church separate from its Muslim community in form and language.
C2 – A traditional church that is separate in form but tries to use insider language.
C3 – Contextualized Christ-centered Communities that use insider language and cultural forms that are religiously neutral.
C4 – Same as C3 except that Biblically permissible cultural and Islamic forms may be used.
C5 – Christ–centered communities of “Messianic Muslims” who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. They call themselves Muslims and remain within the community of Islam with the hope of having a messianic mosque.
C6 – Small Christ-centered communities of secret believers. They live under extreme persecution and so worship secretly and are seen as Muslims by the community.
C1 and C2 approaches in Kazakh church planting run through denominations such Russian Orthodox, Catholic, Russian Baptist, Korean Presbyterian, to name a few. C3 through C5 appears to be widespread, and by its nature C6 is not evident. The research data should reveal church planting ideas that expands on this spectrum.
Emerging church is a term that has gained both increasing significance and controversy. Facing declining numbers and a growing disinterest in the church by the younger generation, there is a movement in church in the West known as the Emerging Church. Carson (2005: 12) explains that at the heart of the emerging church movement “lies the conviction that changes in the culture signal that a new church is emerging”. Broadly speaking it is characterized by a willingness to challenge traditional views and beliefs about what it is to be church and experiment with new forms that range from being more creative to a radical re-invention. Whether some of these more radical forms are Biblically valid is up for debate, but this movement does raise an issue that the Kazakh church needs to face. That is, if there is nothing about its character that attracts unbelievers then it has lost its impact and ability to grow.
Because of the relative novelty of Kazakh church planting, it can be said that all forms of church are emerging. Church planters need to look at the comparison of the three models of Traditional, Cell, and House church. Two specific marks of the Traditional church is that it is building-based and has full-time, trained clergy. In the Kazakh context it is usually registered and has a public presence in the community. The cell church model is the same as the traditional with the significant difference that all the members are committed to a smaller group that usually meets in a home separate to the large weekly meeting. Amongst Kazakhs this model is largely propagated by the Korean church planters.
The House Church model is not tied to a dedicated building but rather believers meet in homes as the church. Leaders are trained but mostly bi-vocational as the church is too small to support them. House churches in close proximity get together occasionally for combined worship and ministry. In the Kazakh context a number of house churches may register together as one traditional church to satisfy the requirements of the religious laws.
Community seems to be a significant term when speaking of Kazkah church planting.
Whatever form or model of church planting is used, it must offer a Kazakh believer a place to belong and find safe haven from the challenges that a believer in the Kazakh context faces.
This and the other issues that have been raised to do with church planting should feed into the pastor interviews so that the emerging theory can apply itself to how they are worked out in the Kazakh context.
A previous study that gives insight into the evangelical church planting that was done in the 1990s is that by Filbert: A historical study of evangelism and contextualization of the Gospel among the Kazak people of Central Asia (1999). Whilst the next chapter will refer to some of his research into Kazakh religion, some of his conclusions related to church planting
The initial conversions came mostly from Russified Kazakhs but that there was a shift towards Traditional Kazakhs (:142).
There was a shift from the expatriate to Kazakh as the primary evangelist (:142).
The Gospel was beginning to move from a beginning in the cities to include the
The cell church model is having success in the Kazakh context and must be pursued (: 181).
The future of the church will depend heavily on adequate and contextual theological and leadership training (: 196-7).
1.8 Conclusion Qualitative research using the Grounded Theory approach is what this study uses in looking at Kazakh church planting. Key concepts that influence the research are firstly that it focuses on evangelical church planting with the primary data coming from the interview of ten evangelical Kazakh pastors. Secondly, the Kazakh context is where the church planting is done and so defining and applying what is meant but the contextualization of the Gospel is important. Thirldly, the Kazakhs live in a world of globalization that imposes all kinds of influence on their lives and church planting must understand and adapt to this changing environment. Finally, church planters must decide on what they mean by a Kazakh church, critically reflecting on what has already taken place and looking to what is relevant for the future. Before beginning with grounded theory and the research data, some groundwork needs to be laid by looking at the historical religious identity of the Kazakhs.
Chapter 2: The Historical Religious Identity of the Kazakhs
2.1 The Growth of an Islamic Identity Balzhan Gabdina, Galina Emelina, and Svetaslav Galikov (2002) in their account of the history of the Kazakhs describe how before the Kazakh people came into being as a distinct group, there were various Turkic nomadic people groups living in Central Asia. These nomads took up a nominal embrace of Islam around 1050 AD and added to its previous practices of Shamanism, Animism, and ancestor worship. In the immediate centuries that followed, Sufi saints roamed throughout the Central Asian steppe and maintained Islam’s momentum. Within this religious environment the Kazakh people came into being around 1500 AD. 8 Gabdina, Emelina, and Galikov (:29) argue that it was at this time that the Kazakhs had developed a language, culture, and economic existence of their own. The process leading up to this point however had being going on for two to three centuries prior to this and a good argument can be made that the Kazakhs came into being in the earlier years.