Educational or missional? BUILD in Butere, Kenya

In the Church of Uganda, the birthplace of BUILD, the programme operates under the Provincial Education Department and, at a diocesan level, education secretaries are often involved in the programme. But that is not exclusively the case in the Church of Uganda, or elsewhere in the region for that matter.

Ben Kibara leads the work in Butere Diocese in the West of Kenya, as the Executive Secretary for Mission in the Diocese. Jem Hovil asked Ben why he has been implementing and promoting the programme from that platform. Ben gave this reply:

“In 2013 the ACK Diocese of Butere celebrated 100 years since the coming of Christianity. Yet when one looks at the level of Christian maturity in terms of what people believe and practice, it leaves a lot to be desired. The majority of those in leadership, serving as priests, evangelists and lay readers have never had any formal theological training. This deficiency of well-trained gospel ministers has led to very little or no spiritual growth, despite the many years the church has been in existence.

“This situation led to the restructuring of the various departments in the diocese to encourage the church to do what God calls her to do: preparing and equipping the saints for the works of service. Thus, two main things define this core department: first, the proclamation of the gospel through preaching, teaching and evangelism, and, second, the need for a well thought through strategy for discipleship.

“This is where the BUILD curriculum comes in as an important tool, helping us to prepare the saints for the works of service. At the moment, attending the BUILD programme in the diocese, we have thirty-three students who are training as ordinands, thirty-five clergy who are already serving in parishes, and forty lay readers and evangelists. The plan is that this team of around a hundred gospel workers, both lay and ordained, will be thoroughly equipped through spending time around God’s word, one day every week. And as they continue going through the various modules, they will in turn equip other leaders who will in turn equip other leaders and we will eventually have a growing church that is firmly established under God’s word.

“As we read in Ephesians 4:11-13, Christ gave different gifts to different people in the church with one main purpose of equipping “his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. As a mission department, our main role is to train and equip leaders so that they can equip others to serve and build Christ’s church, to his praise and glory.”

This does not mean that BUILD should always and only be positioned in mission departments, education departments, too, serve the mission of the church. It does mean that as an initiative that is both missional and educational, there can be great flexibility over where it is located in the life of the church. BUILD can help to integrate the various aspects of that life, across different areas and departments, where the church as a whole is committed to its God given mission.