The Sunday Mail
DISCUSSIONS centred on the future of Africa anchor this year’s annual meeting of the Council of African Apostles (CAA) set for Johannesburg, South Africa, at the end of this month.
The three-day summit, which gets underway on January 31, is running under the theme “The Next Generation”.
In a rapidly changing world where Africa’s potential as an emerging giant in both human and natural resources is being realised, the African Apostles turn their focus on the critical role the church has to play on issues of family, religion, governance and media.
As such, chairperson of CAA, Bishop Tudor Bismark, raised concern that with Africa having 60 percent of the Christians under 35 years, there is need to address pertinent issues about the future of the church.
“There are various categories we are going to be interrogating and looking at. One of them is going to be the church of the future. What does that look like because of social media platforms, live streaming, because of YouTube we have less individuals finding it attractive to go to a church.
“So we are trying to define what that is and provide some guidelines because there are some scriptural requirements for church attendance. But we have to begin to realistically look at the church and the future in terms of younger people.
“I don’t think millennials are going to be staying in church all day, so style, information, presentation, using different applications to facilitate and accelerate, Bible versions, are important. So all of that is going to be looked at and then provide some guidelines, especially for younger leaders and pastors that are coming,” Bishop Bismark said.
Africa is the youngest continent in terms of demographics per capita and with globalisation taking over due to technological advancements that have seen media presenting diverse cultures, the church’s younger generation is not spared from the overflow of information.
Bishop Bismark said media in its various forms will play a key role in propelling a message of empowerment as the church pushes for quality of life, good health and jobs, etcetera.
“Because African Christianity and its experience is a little bit different to that of the West, we are looking at how we can use the media to showcase things like the supernatural, miracles, signs and wonders, the prophetic and spiritual entities.
“But also to show that even though we lean heavily into the supernatural, the church is becoming more intellectual than ever. And that you can have both spirit and truth,” he said.
As the African family structure has been scathed by social, economic and political challenges among them the HIV pandemic, mass migrations and political unrest, Bishop Bismark said retaining a strong family structure will be key for a strong expression of Christianity in the continent. “We are coming now to bring definition to what family is and guidelines as to how we can strengthen and embellish the whole idea of family across the board from an African perspective.
“We believe we are coming into an age of an African awakening. Our role in a 21st century world, our voice, influence and in that awakening it’s going to be important that we have strong families,” he said.
The age of social media has seen information quickly spreading on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The church has to quickly catch up as it pushes its messages.
Against that backdrop, the African Apostles have produced a 20-year strategic plan whose templates on economic, social and political issues have been adopted in countries like The Gambia, Ghana, Zambia and Liberia.
“It’s actually begun to shape individuals in a way of thinking on how to mobilise numbers and how to direct people into what’s best for them in the future. And so with our insistence on certain days of the year when we preach the same message, we know that there is uniformity and conformity to creating outcomes by changing behavior to produce empowerment outcomes.
“So we intend to influence what we call the seven mountains – political, social, economic which is also financial, education, entertainment, media, religion and family. All these we have targeted directly with specific detailed strategies. We are now picking up traction and we are seeing the change.
“Across the board, we are encouraging more individuals to become involved in the political process, including standing to become Members of Parliament, we are pushing individuals to become more active in the market place and to move from the informal to formal sectors of industry.
“In areas of entertainment, we are pushing more of our young people to become involved in movie production, in news as anchors, individuals to become actors in the entertainment industry, to participate in sport. In terms of the education sectors, we want children to be trained to think in the world of politics. So many of the universities that have emerged in West Africa, now coming into Central and East Africa, Southern Africa; we are putting modules for our universities to push for Christians to be actively involved in all of these sensitive and high impact areas,” he said.
In addition, he highlighted a notable increase of Cabinet ministers attending churches under the CAA banner in the past three years, with such influential individuals being held accountable to Christian values and serving their respective nations well. Leading the summit will be the prime movers of the CAA who include Vice-chairperson Dr Mensa Otabil, Bishops Mike Okonkwo (executive member) Joey Imakando and Mike Kiriuki (secretary).
Open and closed presentations will focus on the progress and vision of CAA, building strong churches, technology as well as building strong churches.
Also to be tabled are topics on the challenges with the rule of law in African governance and governments, the church and pan-Africanism as well as media and Africa’s transformation agenda.
Registration will be in three categories from the round table, first tier leaders and the gallery for those who will observe.