Is the church helping people fully devoted followers of Christ

In 2004, the leaders at Willow Creek Community Church of USA asked the question, “Is our church helping people become fully devoted followers of Christ, or are we just giving them a nice place to go to church?” This question is relevant to the Zambian evangelical church in light of the forth coming general election. As pastors we know that the local church is essential for community transformation, but are we growing followers of Christ with thecapacity to interact with secular politics? Are we modeling an attitude of brokenness and humility which recognizes our dependence on God? Do we share the message of redemption with meekness knowing that it is God who ultimately brings conviction and saves?

Zambia’s pre-independence church saw influential African leaders withdraw their membership because the church lacked the skill or will to develop fully devoted Christian politicians, leaders and thinkers. Had the pre-independence church been involved in developing followers of Christ with a biblical understanding of divine creation, the fall of humanity, human capacity, the Kingly rule of Christ, and the restoration of creation, we would have a heritage of Christian leaders who acted as the moral and spiritual mentors in the fight against the colonial governments racial prejudice. Such leaders would have left us a reserve of moral influence in business, education and government. All of which could have helped avert the terrible and tragic problems of poverty, unemployment, and HIV and AIDS with which we are currently struggling.

The problem of the pre-independence missionary church was convinced that its main mission was to “Christianize the nation” by making converts. What they overlooked were the important matters of freedom and equality for the indigenous population. The pre-independence missionary church growth strategy depended on their converts ignoring the moral discipline demanded of a Christians faced with the evils of oppression. As a result, many progressive members withdrew from the church because they felt that the church was consciously narrow in political thought and practice.
Come 2011, one senses the same problem the pre-independence church faced. We have Christianized the nation but are doing little to grow Christians in politics to become fully devoted followers of Christ who understand the central role of the church in the transformation of our nation. Many Christians in politics are wrecking their faith because they do not appear to appreciate that, “There is not an inch in the entire domain of our human life of which Christ, who is sovereign of all does not proclaim ‘Mine.’”(Abraham Kuyper former Prime Minister of Netherlands)

In 1991 church leaders believed their purpose was to establish a Christian nation resting on Godly laws. By 2011 we should be further down the road of developing Christian politicians who remember the cross, who pay careful attention to the realities of redemption, and who understand that God still loves the world.  Until evangelicals develop an increasingly visible and united presence Zambia will not be discussing who the best candidate is, but who the lesser evil is. Here is the question again, “Is our church helping people become fully devoted followers of Christ, or are we just giving them a nice place to go to church?”

Lawrence Temfwe