The theme ‘Building a progressive church through literacy ministry’ is appropriate especially in our country today because crime and criminal activities such as kidnapping, terrorism, rituals, murder, religious intolerance, internet fraud, and many other ungodly activities are rampant in society nowadays. This might be because most churches are not progressive.
Rick Warren in his book “The purpose driven church” classified the purpose of a church into five namely: Worship, Ministry, Evangelism, Fellowship, and Discipleship.
Therefore, for a church to be regarded as a progressive church it must have fulfilled the purposes mentioned above.. The definition of literacy is accepted by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
UNESCO defines literacy as the art of knowing, writing, reading, and simple calculation. Some authors defined literacy as ‘am art of knowing something that one does not know at a point in time’. If I may ask ‘does everybody know how to read and write in Nigeria particularly? Capital NO
Literacy ministry is not the same as a Literacy program. Literacy ministry as against just literacy programme is the leading of others to Christ using literacy. Late Dr. K. I. Anifowose, a one-time director of the Adult Education Department defined it as ‘God-centered love in action… ‘This is the leading of others to Christ through literacy. This is the type of literacy the Nigeria Baptist Convention is promoting. NBC type of literacy is intentionally designed to reach out to people bring them to Christ and also nurture them to maturity. Looking at the definition of literacy ministry, we see that it is a strong tool for evangelism thereby helping to build a progressive church and minister.
How can Literacy Ministry help to build a Progressive church?
What makes a minister to be progressive?
Literacy ministry is a people-centered ministry. The primary aim of the ministry is to nurture people into maturity in Christ, that is, for them to worship God and become the Disciples of Christ who will also obey the great commission as in Matthew 28: 19 – 20. This requires that whoever God is to use must be a Christian and must see it as a calling right from the beginning of the ministry. Considering the definition of literacy, every society of human beings needs literacy, yet there is still a need for personal conviction for one to go into the ministry.
- Conviction one receives will help him/her to be watchful: The ‘watch’ will help one to see the need for literacy ministry in one’s immediate environment. This could be within the family, local church, or the community. As one watches, one also prays for divine direction.
- Work after watching and ascertaining the need, then one begins to ‘work’ towards actualizing the vision: The work starts with awareness creation. People must be mobilized and educated on the need to be literate and to learn what they do not know at the time.
- Witnessing: This is the ultimate goal of any literacy ministry. Any literacy ministry that does not have this as its goal is not literacy ministry, it is just a literacy program. After watching and working, the organizer of the literacy ministry must use the ministry to witness to learners. The witnessing is in two folds:
- If the learners are members of Christendom, they must be nurtured to maturity in Christ.
- If they are not members of Christendom at all then, intentionally planned evangelism will start. This must be carefully done to avoid sending some of the learners away.
Family Life Education Department
Text: Acts 2: 42 – 47
It is the wish of every minister of God to build a progressive ministry. It requires effort, wisdom, and prayer to build any structure. Building people especially needs a mental effort. What does the family life of your church look like? To answer this question, let me ask other questions: what is the nature of family life ministry in the church? What does it take to build a progressive family life ministry in the church?
Since the family is seen and known to be the bedrock of every society, no society survives or exists without family. The family life begins at home and progresses to the church, without building a home front it will be difficult to make a positive development in the church. Therefore, every family must be taught to cultivate the attitude of prayer fellowship, ministry, and devotion.
To build a progressive church through family life ministry
- Nurture and develop Christian life in the family (Deut 6: 2 -3)
- Teach the biblical principles that will lead every member of a family to become a true disciple of Jesus. (Deut 6: 5 – 6).
- Strengthen family members through Bible study and discipleship materials (Joshua 1:8)
- Provide opportunities where every member of the family can be equipped for the work of the ministry (Cornelius Acts 10:1 – ff)
Building a Progressive Family Life in the Church
- Family enrichment programs through pre-marital counseling (for intending couples), post-marital counseling (for newly married couples), and single fellowship (for all unmarried males and females and single parents). Couples’ retreat (for all couples this could be done based on their years of marriage.
- Family mission project: This unites family members as they focus on what each can contribute to further God’s work. Each family should choose a project that will be jointly supported by the family members.
- Teaching: Teachings should be regularly done on Christian parenting with a focus on different levels of parenting. (pre-schooler/younger children, parenting older children/teenagers, etc.)
- Family worship Sunday: This is a Sunday worship where every member of the family sits together and worships as a unit. This can be done once a quarter or every 5th Sunday of any month. It will help family members to experience worship together in the church.
No single church can reach everyone, it takes all kinds of church to reach all kinds of people.
For your church to be most effective in evangelism you must decide on a target as a progressive minister of the Most High God. Discover what type of people live in the area where your church is situated and decide which of those four discipleships. Knowing who you are trying to reach makes evangelism much easier.
The place where I served as a student pastor in the Oyo area helped me a lot because of the type of people I met there. I studied them very vividly and discovered that they needed all four mentioned church ministries. But I major in Sunday school which on some Sundays is used throughout the service. It helps to allow them to ask questions and be to get the right answer through the scripture. This style helps to gain more members who are ready to be followers of Jesus Christ. Later, I introduced literacy ministry where some found time to join and developed their morals much better than before. Help to have Sunday school teachers among them. Once again study the members, and concentrate more on what can develop the church members.
- Babalola, Esther Eghe, Practical Handbook for Sunday school Teachers/Workers, Ibadan: Wilsanvic prints, 2019.
- Piland, Harry (Complier), Growing and winning through the Sunday school, convention press
- Akinsola Jerry “Building a purposeful Christian Education Department: Teamwork” CED. Staff retreat, January 2021.
- O. Anifowose, A challenge to literacy ministry: An unpublished article
- Rick Warren, “The purpose driven church: originally published in U. S. A copyright ©️ 1995.
Rev’d Adeniyi Peter Ajibade, Halleluyah Baptist Church, Agbaje, Ijokodo, Ibadan.