Across Kenya, preaching has fallen in to disrepute. In Nairobi, signs will declare ‘No Preaching Allowed!’ alongside smoking, hawking or pick-pocketing.
In churches, sermons are often given with minimal preparation and rarely focus on Christ and the gospel. There is a particular temptation for clergy to preach a ‘prosperity gospel’, to draw larger numbers of people to services. Consequently, congregations are spiritually malnourished and ill-equipped.
Marsabit Diocese suffers particularly acutely. Whereas in most of Kenya 83% of the population profess to be Christian, in Marsabit it is just 5%. In addition, the diocese is huge, remote and somewhat insecure. Much of the area is difficult to access and there are very testing cultural, ethnic and linguistic divisions. Clergy and church workers often have very low levels of training, but financial resources to enable this are few.
In January, Crosslinks sent a team of bible teachers to Marsabit to conduct a School of Biblical Training for church workers from across the diocese. 25 clergy and evangelists attended, representing nine different ethnic groups.
The training covered a range of topics, from ‘authentic pastoral ministry’ and ‘discipleship and mentoring’ to ‘spirit-filled preaching’ and ‘structure and homiletics’. Each day started at 8am with morning prayer, followed by an exposition form 1 Corinthians and a first training session. After a tea break, two further sessions followed before lunch, then four more sessions in the afternoon, with the day concluding around 6pm.
The 1 Corinthians teaching struck a chord with delegates, who saw the similarities between the situation of the Corinthian Church and that in Marsabit – politics, division, the glorification of personalities and the desire for ‘signs’. Time spent in smaller groups was also valuable, with participants working hard on finding the ‘big point’ of the passage and how to preach it, and also noticing the gospel throughout the Old Testament.
On leaving the conference, one church leader said, ‘We have learnt that we need to let the Bible speak for itself. We’ve also learnt that the seed is the word. We need to sow the word and do everything we can to ensure that it is goes in and grows and flourishes.’
Points for ongoing prayer for Marsabit include:
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