We have many indigenous churches which are now calling themselves as Africa Independent Churches (AIC) which broke away from the mainstream churches which were established by missionaries. Some of these churches are led with people who have never gone through theological training nor any other church leadership, but they claim to have been trained by the Holy Spirit. They do not encourage their pastors for training; hence they are confused about how they apply the doctrine. Some of the leaders have come out of the mainstream churches and became self-appointed Bishops. There are confusions between the mainstream churches and the AIC, and this is confusing the Christian families who seem to be preaching from different scrips. This confusion is driving many people out of Christianity and becoming churchless.
Despite the high growth of the Africa Independent churches in Kenya, the mainstream churches remain with majority followers. However, it is also fascinating to note that many are fond of following these self-styled prophets as they promise them hope and prosperity out of their poverty. Unfortunately, many people who are followers are living a very humble life, and with the promise of wealth, they see hope and join them. Unfortunately, they enrich their pastor as they remained poorer than they were. Ross Douthat in his book Bad Religion talked of the prosperity gospel preachers who have influenced this AIC churches by imitating what these pastors are preaching. As much as the book is focusing on the Nation of America most, it is apparent that what is happening in the States is also happening herein Kenya although on a lower scale, but the concept is the same. How can one tell a good and bad religion? Each person finds whatever religion he worships through in whichever method to be the best and the only one to reach God and all others are false. What one would call heresy, one believes in it strongly and feels offended when he is referred to worshipping a false religion. Ross Douthat refers to the gospel of Paul where he presents himself as the minister of a universal church that transcends both racial and denominational divisions, which made the same claims on every Christian – and whose universality was such that a black Baptist could cite the Catholic theory of Natural law to persuade white protestants of the merits of his case. Paul addressed these issues in the early church, and still, we are going into the same trap. Ross brings out Paul’s letter to be one that made Christianity seem vital, inexhaustible, and permanently relevant.
This week are having been doing evangelistic mission in Dare salaam, Tanzania for a whole week and planting of the Friends Church within the church city of Dare salaam. It was an experience as we got so many questions from people who asked what kind of a church we were and if we were one of those churches that preach prosperity. Wherever a new church is planted in a new area, many people make the inquiry to know what type of church we are because of the experience they have had. It is becoming very hard to identify the true Christian church today especially in Africa. Even some of the mainstream churches are developing into such practices.