A thirst for whole-life discipleship – seven champions for global change

30 May 2017

It’s not every day that you sit down to dinner with people from all corners of the globe – seven completely different and unique individuals, but all with the same passionate desire: to see people becoming whole-life disciples of Christ, 24 hours-a-day seven-days-a-week Christians.

In January, I had the pleasure of attending the second day of a pioneering consultation between seven key members of theological colleges from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Langham Associate Scholar Director Ian Shaw leads a group discussion on how to change seminary curriculum in order to overcome the ‘Sacred Secular Divide’.

The aim of their time together, led by Langham Associate Scholar Director Ian Shaw and London Institute for Contemporary Christianity’s Director Mark Greene, was to discuss ways in which the curriculum at seminaries could be changed in order to overcome the ‘Sacred Secular Divide’ in Christian culture around the world.

Disagreement, laughter and tears

Huddled around a small table in a side room at the LICC HQ near Oxford Street London, shopping was far from anyone’s mind.  Discussions ranged from internally displaced people in Columbia, building wells in India, large-scale events in churches and the need for collaborative learning.

The intellectual fervour and thirst for whole-life discipleship was palpable in the room, as voices were raised in disagreement, explosions of laughter were heard, and genuine tears were shed.

These seven people, all highly influential in their own seminaries, were asked to identify “champions” in their regions who could attend a similar consultation in their country. The ultimate aim at the end of these consultations is to change college curriculum to include ways of teaching and content to overcome the so-called ‘Sacred-Secular Divide’.

Langham Scholars Milton Acosta, lecturer at the Biblical Theological Seminary of Colombia [left] and Bernard Boyo, Dean of Daystar University, Kenya [right].

Living for Jesus at work

This divide has been seen most cruelly in ‘Christian’ nations such as Rwanda, where horrific genocide took place, despite the religious background of the country. In Tanzania, corruption is a part of life. One attendee of the consultation, who is a lecturer in Tanzania, is also an advisor to the Government on corruption. He said that Christians are not seeing the need to live for Jesus in their work.

In other areas of the world, such as Latin America, the prosperity Gospel is rife and Christians are clamouring for the next big church event rather than the word of God.

In a number of countries, Christians have not been shown how to think Christianly about politics, and how to vote wisely. There have also been examples of real public conflict and hostility between Christians of different political persuasions, particularly on social media.

Mark Greene, LICC Director [left] and Theresa Lau, General Secretary of Asia Theological Association.

Real progress

As a fly-on-the wall note taker and non-participant, it felt like real progress was being made: cross-cultural thinking, collaboration, sharing of ideas and a mutual desire for advancements was tangible.

The aim is for findings to be reported at the triennial consultation of the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education next year.

Please pray that these seven people will take this vision for overcoming the ‘Sacred Secular Divide’ and find other influential Christians in their region to attend a similar consultation and see progress made in seminaries all over the world.

Victoria Marsay, Digital Content Producer, Langham Partnership UKI.

Smiles despite the cold: the consultation attendees braved the freezing January temperatures for a group photograph outdoors.

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