Viral Church Planting

Oscar Murui is a speaker who communicates with authority. Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, his words command attention. His delivery is serious and deliberate. He presented the keynote talk about the future realities of Global Christianity. Click here and here to watch.

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Africa with 631 million Christians, is now the largest church in the world. The centre of Christianity has relocated to the southern hemisphere and it is booming! Not only is the church in Africa spreading like a wild fire, the population is thriving. Africans are multiplying like rabbits. The population of Nairobi is expected to reach 40 million by 2050(from current 4 million) and Africa will reach 2.4 billion people(from current 1 billion).

The future of Christianity is African. Dozens of African countries have an overwhelming majority of Christians. The question is, how will Africa evangelize its own as well as the rest of the world? Even though Africa has added hundreds of millions of people, it has not increased the overall percentage of Christians. In other words, the net number of Christians has remained consistent.

The future of Christianity in Africa is about youth and children. Africa is the youngest continent in the world. With a huge youth bulge(average age of a Kenyan is 19 years of age), and the life expectancy being in the 60s, the church has an urgent task. Even though the average age in the Kenyan church is 40, the church must focus on the 4-20 window. This refers to the most receptive age categories to the gospel are between four and twenty. This is where the real battle lies. Teachers, musicians and media content producers have and will continue to have a huge evangelistic potential.

The future is crowded immobility. Africans are moving to the cities and Kenya’s projected rate of urbanization is more than double the global average. 250,000 Kenyans move into cities every year. Buying land is already expensive in Nairobi, but when the population increases to 40 million, it will be insanely so. We must change our church-planting strategy and establish churches as close to people as possible. Churches will need to by hyper-local and small to survive. This will require the training of thousands of bi-vocational pastors.

Ed Stetzer wrote an article about rhinos and rabbits comparing them to different church-planting philosophies. He writes:

It is unfortunate, but the White Rhino appears to be on a trajectory to extinction. And there’s little wonder why. Human and environmental factors aside, the rhino has a built-in malefactor that hinders their own proliferation—a gestation period of 16 to 18 months. It takes a year and a half for a rhino to have a baby, meaning that even if all others variables are ideal, the birth rate is going to be excruciatingly slow.

Yet, all other factors are never ideal, so some rhino babies do not make it to birth, while others die soon after. As a result, you’re unlikely to hear about rapid rhino multiplication. Instead, expensive and painstaking management is required simply to avoid extinction.

Contrast rhinos with rabbits. The animal’s name itself has become a synonymous symbol for rapid multiplication. Why? Rabbits have a gestation period of 31 days—one month. This system of rapid multiplication allows the rabbit to persist and flourish despite various environmental impediments that should cause its demise.

Oscar, making reference to this article admonished churches to reproduce themselves as rabbits. He said, “After four years, you can produce one rhino church but after four years, you can produce millions of rabbits.” Africa needs hundreds of thousands of rabbit-like churches. New, smaller churches are concerned with aggressive evangelism because if they don’t, they will not survive. 90% of the world’s churches are 100 people or less and only 1% of churches are 1,000 people or more. It is easy to train a pastor to lead a church of 30 people; it is difficult to even find a trained pastor willing to lead a church of 2,000.