THE CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY STRATEGY IN CHRISTIANIZING FREETOWN IN SIERRA LEONE AS A MODEL FOR CHURCH GROWTH
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This study was carried out to examine the church missionary society strategy in Christianizing Freetown in Sierra Leone as a model for church growth. The study was restricted to the Anglican Church. The Church Missionary Society (CMS) was founded in 1799 as an independent voluntary society within the Church of England, whose aim was to send missionaries to “the continent of Africa and other parts of the heathen world”. CMS missionaries spread the gospel not only through evangelistic work but through education and medical care, by providing schools for children, colleges for adults, training in industry for men, and in crafts and household skills for women and medical training for those who worked in the hospitals and dispensaries.
TABLE OF CONTENT
TITLE PAGE i
TABLE OF CONTENTS viii
LIST OF TABLES ix
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.3 AIMS OF STUDY
1.4 THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY
1.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.6.1 DEFINITION OF TERMS
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.1 CMS MISSION IN AKWA IBOM
2.3 LEADERSHIP/ TEAMWORK
2.4 STRATEGIC PLANNING
2.5 CHURCH PLANTING
2.6 CHURCH GROWTH
2.7 CHALLENGES AND SUCCESS
2.8 IMPACT OF CMS IN SIERRA LEONE
2.9 CMS IN NIGERIA
2.10 CMS IN AKWA IBOM
- Background to the Study
The church represents a body of priests on mission to evangelize the world to Christ while awaiting His returns. The great commission in (Mathew 28 verse 16-20) speaks of the church as one body and entity in Christ not as a divided institution as seen today. The great commission contains an important mission the church should pursue in the world, considering his words;
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”( Matt. 28:19-20 NIV).
This draws us closer to the primary objective of the church missionary society in the world from time past till date. The church missionary society was established on the basis of encouraging and assisting reformed churches throughout the world to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, and taking the gospel to every nations. The Church Missionary Society, presently known as the Church Mission Society (CMS) is a British mission society working with Christians around the world. Founded in 1799 as an independent voluntary society within the Church of England, whose aim was to send missionaries to “the continent of Africa and other parts of the heathen world”. CMS missionaries spread the gospel not only through evangelistic work but through education and medical care, by providing schools for children, colleges for adults, training in industry for men, and in crafts and household skills for women and medical training for those who worked in the hospitals and dispensaries. The society has also given its name “CMS” to a number of daughter organisations around the world, including Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand, and Sierra Leone (Mounstephen, 2015).
Missionary Christianity in West Africa dates to 2oth January 1482 when six hundred (600) Portuguese merchants and explorers led by Don Diego d’ Azambuja landed at Elmina, Gold coast. The first Europeans arrived at the West-African Coasts at the end of the fifteenth century. For several years they paid attention to slave trade rather than evangelization and Christianization of the people of West-Africa. However, by the turn of the Nineteenth Century there was systematic efforts by churches of Christian Europe, namely: Anglicans, Methodists, and Baptists who were active in Sierra Leone and, with Presbyterians, in Nigeria, while Methodists also set up missions in Ghana, Gambia, and Dahomey. In the 19thh century, too, Afro-Brazilians returned to Benin and Nigeria with Catholicism.
A new era began with the settlements of Black Christians from Nova Scotia in Sierra Leone in 1787 and the missionary advance inland from Cape Town beginning with the arrival there of J. T. van der Kemp in 1799. New missionary societies (the LMS, the CMS, the Holy Ghost Fathers, the White Fathers, etc.) began work in many parts of Africa. The CMS began to work in the freed slave villages in Sierra Leone in 1804 and the Methodist in 1811. The early success of the missionaries included areas like Freetown and surrounding villages. Some early success included the Liberian coast where Afro-Americans and freed slaves were converted. The others include the French trading posts at Grand Bassam (Ivory Coast), Assinie and Libreville in Gabon.
The missionary goal is transforming people while Christianizing plays the part of making these people turned Christians. Christianization is also the proclamation of salvation in Christ to those who do not believe in him, calling them to repentance and conversion, announcing forgiveness of sin, and inviting them to become living members of Christ’s earthly community and to begin a life of service to others in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Bosh 1991, pg:10). Christianization should not function as a mere section of the missionary’s strategy for church growth, but it should be the engine that drives motivation and direction for each aspect of Christianizing the world to Christ (Jonathan Falwell, 2008). To achieve this, an effective Church Missionary Society strategy consisting of several stages is required (Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, 2007). Therefore, it is the intention of the researcher to cross-examine the church missionary society strategy in Christianizing Freetown in Sierra Leone as a model for church growth.
- Statement of the Problem
All through Christ’s missionary journey he was mostly seen with sinners, this implies he actually came for the unsaved souls which should be the foundation of every church today. The campaign against slavery and the establishment of the colony for freed slaves at Freetown in Sierra Leone inspired the CMS to spread the Gospel abroad and they started work in West Africa in 1804. Over the next decades work expanded into other areas of Africa and then to other parts of the world. In 1804 two German Lutheran clergy, Melchior Renner and Peter Hartwig, were sent to Freetown to found the CMS mission. There was a high mortality rate among missionaries, but the mission took hold. In 1827 a training institution later named the Fourah Bay College was opened for native Africans. It was to produce many ministers, missionaries, and agents for the rest of West Africa, its most famous student being Samuel Adjai Crowther, who was to become the first African Anglican bishop. Immediately after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, opportunities were also opened up at the invitation of the Colonial Government among people rescued from slave ships and settled in Sierra Leone. More missionaries, both German and English, were sent there and many people were converted. The death toll among missionaries was heavy from the start and reached a climax in the yellow fever epidemic of 1823. CMS therefore considered training Africans for the ministry, realizing that they stood the climate better than Europeans did and in 1827 a training institution was opened at Fourah Bay. This was the future University of Fourah Bay, where so many leading Sierra Leoneans were to study. Presently, the level of chaos and homicides in Freetown, Sierra Leone has been so alarming, homicide, kidnapped cases, rape and political tussle for power has been on the increase. This and many more happenings has thrown a hard blow at CMS on the need to spread the gospel of Christ in times like this and curb the menace. The aforementioned challenges led to the study on the church missionary society strategy in Christianizing Freetown in Sierra Leone as a model for church growth.
1.3 Aims/Objectives of study
The primary aim of this study is to examine the church missionary society strategy in Christianizing Freetown in Sierra Leone as a model for church growth. The specific objectives is;
- To outline strategies to be strictly adhered to in achieving a successful Christianizing of Freetown in Sierra Leone.
- To develop a model for Christianizing of Freetown in Sierra Leone that will aid church growth.
- To identify possible challenges awaiting Christianizing of Freetown in Sierra Leone and new church planting activities in the region.
- To proffer solutions to most challenges encountered by CMS missionaries in an attempts to Christianize Freetown in Sierra Leone.
1.4 Scope of the Study
Since this research work is not limited to a particular church, the researcher shall channel his focus to Freetown in Sierra Leone; and shall strictly consult those in authority on the research topic in order to have a balance and decisive outcome, not being subjective.
1.5 Research Methodology
The researcher will examine existing literature on the topic of Christian missionary society strategy, with emphasis on developing a model for church growth, and then draw upon insight gained in developing such a model specifically for Freetown in Sierra Leone. The researcher will likewise visit scholarly studies on that relates to the research topic, library and works online shall be another great resource, finally, some church leaders from African Church, shall be interviewed in order to have a balance and decisive conclusion on the research work.
The study will therefore, also reflect the fruit of seminars, interviews and other personal interaction. The researcher will not base his conclusion on self-belief or to be subjective on the issue. The final strategy adopted shall be presented with conclusions particularly relevant to the issue of Christianizing Sierra Leone to aid church Growth.
1.6 Operational Definition of terms
For the purpose of this study, the following terms are deemed fit to be distinctively defined as follows:
The English word Church is called Ekklesia in the New Testament Greek and it means an assembly of the called out. It refers to a people called for a purpose. The Old Testament Hebrew equivalent is qara and it means to meet (Strong, 2001:7177). In old Hebrew history from where the idea of ekklesia emanated, people were usually called out to meet at a point either for a discussion or to worship. This idea informed the word ekklesia in the New Testament and it is used to mean the church.
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.
A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.
Christianity is the belief in the religion of Jesus Christ and his teaching ((Honrby, 1963:164). It is also the act of voluntarily accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour and as such become his disciple who learns and behaves like him.
Anglicanism, one of the major branches of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation and a form of Christianity that includes features of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Anglicanism is loosely organized in the Anglican Communion, a worldwide family of religious bodies that represents the offspring of the Church of England and recognizes the archbishop of Canterbury as its nominal head.
The Church Growth is the movement within evangelical Christianity which aims to grow churches physically and spiritually based on research, sociology, analysis, teachings etc.
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