Digging and Dreaming in Zambia
Conrad Mbewe, pastor of Lusaka Baptist Church reflected recently on preaching in Africa:
“In Africa God’s people survive on what preachers want them to hear, even if it has little to do with the Bible passage that has been read. Platitudes have replaced exposition – often by preachers who scold and shout. Is it any surprise that churches are largely malnourished? As long as this is the staple diet, there is no hope for the African church.”
But there are exceptions…
In March Conrad welcomed Emmanuel Oladipo (Langham Preaching Coordinator for English-speaking Africa; pictured) to Lusaka. Twenty-five experienced preachers gathered to wrestle with the meat, the skeleton and the heartbeat of both the text and the sermon (using a model developed by Ramesh Richard). Day One was devoted to prayer and the skills of studying a passage of Scripture. For Conrad, “the discipline is to avoid thinking about the sermon at this stage – as it is all about understanding the Word as it came to those first hearers.” Day Two was all about shaping a sermon from the text. Each evening Emmanuel preached and humbly submitted his sermon to the evaluation of the participants.
Conrad observed that “Just as there is no good physical health without exercise and sweat, there is no good preaching without hard exegetical spadework. We African preachers have to learn that there is no graduating from this work of digging if we are to remain faithful to our work.”
Conrad holds a monthly preachers’ fellowship for local pastors where sermons are preached – with ears trained to listen for a faithfulness to the Bible passage.
“It has been wonderful to see the change that has taken place in some who were initially disillusioned with expository preaching. I have a dream that one day pulpits across Zambia will faithfully expound God’s word in the power of the Spirit. But we will not get there simply by dreaming – it will be by means of training seminars like this one with Emmanuel.”