A study of theological education in Africa inland church-Kenya:
Mumo, Peter M
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The Africa Inland Church founded by Africa Inland missionaries a century ago (1895) has expanded to become one of the largest protestant churches in Kenya with a membership of 2.4 million. Since 1928, it has been involved in providing theological education to its members and christians from other denominations. The quality of evangelising demonstrated by a church is a reflection of the kind of training its personnel go through. The study takes stock of the ups and downs of A.I.C. 's theological education from 1928 to the present. The study set out to investigate the historical development of theological education in A.I.C.Kenya noting its important changes and milestones especially from 1928 to the present. It also examined the various forms of theological training offered by A.LC. Attention was paid to training at Scott Theological College, Bible colleges, Bible schools, lay training centres as well as at A.I.C. Missionary College. The various curricula used were studied and viewed as to how relevant they are to the Kenyan situation. TJ:1estudy also examined the kinds of work done by those who are trained at the various training institutions. Thestudy utilized both field and library research. 236 respondents drawn from areas where A.I.C. has been established and where A.LC's theological education institutions are located were interviewed to supplement library and archival sources relevant to the study. The study found out that the need for theological education arose out of the missionaries' realization that on their own they could not spread christianity as far as they wanted. Initially the problem was lessened by training evangelists at the mission stations. The study reveals that the first AJ.M. Bible school was established in 1928 while the first theological college was set up in 1962. In 1971, when A.LM. handedover leadership to A.I.C. there were 5 pastors' training institutions. In 1995 there were 13 pastors' training institutions, 7 lay training centres and 1 missionary training college. Despite the growth in theological education the study highlights that due to low and unstandardized salaries among other reasons, some local churches in areas such as Nyanza and Rift Valley Provinces are under untrained church elders. Hence the basic objective of theological education of training adequate pastors and leaders for all local churches has not been fully achieved. The study shows that although Kenyan teachers have taken key positions in institutions of theological education, there is still a substantial presence of expatriate missionary teachers. The study also shows how local initiatives have been utilized in promoting theological education. An example is given of Kapsabet Bible College where in 1993 all the teachers were Kenyans and about 80% of the financial support of the college was locally generated. The study found out that the process of contextualizing theological education has not gone deep enough. The orientation adopted in A.I.C. theological education has indoctrination elements. The early A.I.M. missionaries trained African pastors to despise African culture. The situation has not changed much. The curricula have not been contextualized in all theological aspects affecting christians. Some key christian doctrines which require contextualization among others include God, Christology, Trinity, Fall, Redemption and the Second Coming. In Africa today pastors need to be grounded in these christian doctrines and with abilities to interpret and preach. The study contributes to knowledge by first highlighting the general positive contribution of A.I.C. in Kenya in training pastors and church workers since 1928. Secondly, it points out inadequacies in A.I.C.'s theological education programmes. Such inadequacies include the banking concept of education, indoctrination, the constant use and heavy reliance on alien theological materials, the failure to recognise the contexts of religious pluralism and ecumenism and the failure to understand and appreciate the African spirituality as a total way of life that takes account of a world of spirits including God, good and evil spirits and spirits of human beings, all of which do influence the lives of the living for better or for worse. The study recommends the continued involvement of Africans if evangelization has to succeed and the need to incorporate the African pedagogy as a way of teaching that is a product of African culture that aims at a balance in the education of head and heart and the inclusion of practical skills. African culture has many values to offer that can enrich theological education and the church.