Fighting the Prosperity Gospel in Africa through Bible Training.
Last week on the WordPartners blog I shared an interview titled “Fighting the Prosperity Gospel in Africa Through Bible Training.” This interview highlighted the important work our organization is doing training pastors around the world in biblical exposition.
When I asked Doug Dunton, WordPartners’ Africa Director, about how our training program is impacting the lives of pastors and congregations, he responded by sharing how two pastors went two very different directions when confronted with the biblical task of rightly preaching the Word (2 Timothy 2:15, 4:2).
Can you share how WordPartners training is impacting individual pastors?
A Congolese guy came to a large prosperity church in Kampala, Uganda to investigate how the church worked. Immediately following this, he came to a Jonah session of LRI training and was confronted with the difference in ministries between prosperity gospel church and a biblical ministry model as we were teaching in our training and the book of Jonah. He told us he was going to change his philosophy and reject the prosperity gospel. He soon went back and shared with leaders in his church the emphasis on building a church on expository preaching. They rejected him, and shortly he rejected expository preaching. Now he is trying to duplicate the prosperity ministries he deems as successful.
A story with a happier ending is that of John, a pastor from Nairobi, Kenya. When we studied 2 Timothy and the command to ‘preach the word in season and out of season’, John repented before our eyes and said that he never was concerned about Staying on the Line [that is, faithfully preaching the message of the Bible].
He called himself a “rhema” preacher [that is, a preacher who waits to receive a special word]—and a good one at that. He said every Sunday morning God would give him a word. He would say his “hallelujahs” and preach whatever came to his head at the moment, and people said they were refreshed by that special word he was receiving. Then he repented and went back to his church. He started preaching Jonah expositionally (after studying Jonah). People looked at him with heads cocked to the side. “Is pastor John OK today?”“It’s not the same kind of growth, it’s growth of transformation and regeneration in people’s lives.”
After a few weeks, people began to realize he didn’t do his rhema preaching anymore. Before you knew it, people started leaving—a lot of people. He came and told us the story and said that even though people were leaving, he was not going back to be a rhema preacher.
Many months passed until my next interaction with John and I wondered, “Was John continuing in preaching the word?” When we talked to him, he shared that he is still preaching the Word. And his church is experiencing growth that he has never experienced in his life before because he is Staying on the Line of God’s Word. So I asked John where the church growth was coming from, and I love this, he said, “Through new converts.” He’s now measuring growth through professions of faith and baptisms. “It’s not the same kind of growth,” he said, “but it is growth of transformation and regeneration in people’s lives.”
John has now become the coordinator for the group of pastors who are partnering with us from Go Ye Africa. He has become an influential leader due to the strength of his conviction.
WordPartners training is addressing the prosperity gospel and helping strengthen churches by fostering convictions rooted in the Word of God.
Tim Keesee of Dispatches from the Front called God’s work through the WordPartners program “Nation Shaking.” Watch a clip of when WordPartners was featured on Dispatches from the Front: