ATS Dissertations


Bauta D. Motty



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The Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) today is in dire need of a relevant indigenous disciple-making model, with methods that are culturally-relevant and biblically affirmed, to mature its members. Acknowledging the strong legacy of evangelism from its parent organization, the Sudan Interior Mission [SIM] now known as Serving in Mission. ECWA must go beyond using inherited Western discipleship programs developed at the national level that have proven ineffective among ethnic groups. This dissertation introduces an indigenous "discipling" model-Christian socialization-as an important strategy for maturing members at the local level. The Kaninkon People of Nigeria are a case study that shows how ECWA can affirm and use selected religious beliefs and practices of a culture for discipling purposes while at the same time bring to light new truths of the Christian Gospel through inviting local theological reflection in a hermeneutical community, the Siyong.

Chapter 1 presents the problem as well as the theories and methods adopted to gather and interpret data in order to construct the most relevant method of making disciples among the indigenous Christians in the Kaninkon society.

Chapter 2 describes the background of the theology and practice of discipleship in SIM and ECWA. The two have seemed to see discipleship as Christian Education or as indoctrination where the rules of the church are passed on to members from the national level to the local church level.

Chapter 3 surveys and selects theories related to culture-sensitive disciple-making that are appropriate to communities having their own worldview, rites and customs. Relevant disciple-making involves a change in worldview and cultural practices. Theories, as good as they are to their proponents, are not universal and so they do not fit every cultural context; for example, the Kaninkon society.

Chapter 4 examines biblical concepts of disciple-making. In the Old Testament socialization takes place through ritual practices in order to mature people in faith within a society that lived as a covenant people. In the New Testament, however, discipling involved committing oneself to become a disciple of Christ and to learn how to live out the faith as covenant communities, the people of God within a given cultural context.

Chapter 5 discusses how essential conditions of cultural "discipling" or socialization among the Kaninkon people of Nigeria point out the relative merits of an indigenous church using local patterns of "training up" believers versus employing outside methods and programs that are still present as a. cultural residue from earlier days of mission and church. The study is rich in ethnographic information about cultural forms that can be used for discipling Kaninkon Christians and will enable them to do "self-theologizing"

Chapter 6 is a full presentation of the new disciple-making model: Christian socialization or "self-discipling" Christian socialization will help the church to become indigenous and to develop its own contextualized expressions of the Gospel so that the Christian faith itself will be understood in ways the church has neither grasped nor experienced before. Through this, the global church's understanding of the Kingdom of God will be enhanced.

Chapter 7 completes the study by demonstrating that new use of the entity, Siyong, the traditional forum for discussing social issues, can bring success in bridging the discipling gap between the national and local levels of the ECWA. Siyong is where Christian socialization will best develop. Within the dialogue group, that also serves as a hermeneutical community, is found the right place for discussing and deciding on cultural matters necessary to institute Christian socialization among the Kaninkon people.

In conclusion, the new disciple-making model-Christian socialization or "self- discipling"-brings relevance and meaning to indigenous (Kaninkon) Christians. The new model will root evangelism with discipling among the Kaninkon culture.




Thesis (Ph. D.), 2005

Publication Date



Eunice L. Irwin


2005, Ph., D., 63060895, Discipling, Christianity, Nigeria, Evangelical, Churches, West, Africa


Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Thesis (Ph.D.)--Asbury Theological Seminary, 2005.


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 291-317).

Call Number

BV4520 .M69 2005



Relevant Indigenous Disciple-Making in the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA): a Case Study of the Kaninkon People in Nigeria