Original Research

Reflections on a missional ecclesiology for Africa's expressions of Christianity through the Tswana lens

Desmond Henry
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 1 | a1612 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i1.1612 | © 2016 Desmond Henry | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 April 2016 | Published: 18 November 2016

About the author(s)

Desmond Henry, Unit for Reformed Theology and Development, North West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


The continent of Africa has indubitably shown exponential growth in the spread on the Christian faith since its introduction by colonial missionaries. It can thus be argued that a plurality of African Christianities thrive on African soil and are exported, through missionaries, to the developed world. This growth in Christian converts does not come without challenges to the future of the Church in Africa; these challenges abound and need to be articulated and worked through contextually and biblically.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article seeks to explore four missional challenges to African ecclesiology under a broad understanding of what can be termed a missional ecclesiology through utilising the Tswana world view as a case study. The article will challenge readers on the importance of continuity within the Christian faith in terms of a holistic biblical world view while touching on the overarching importance of contextualisation and Gospel adaptation. The article proposes a missional epistemological identity as opposed to a typical Western epistemological approach to mission work and contextualisation within the safeguards of an evangelical anchor. The interdisciplinary nature of this study is such that it deals with anthropological realities within a historical framework that impact in the traditional ways Christian practitioners approach the mission of God through his church in Africa specifically. The article challenges the comfortable and complicit attitudes related to the evident growth in Christian faith in Africa with the sobering reality of discernment in praxis and missional enterprise.


missional; ecclesiology; African independent Churches (AIC); Mission initiated Churches (MIC); worldview


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