Education is believed to be one of the greatest weapon with the capacity to change the world. It has proven to have many benefits and positive impacts not only in transforming the world but also the church. Today, an emphasis is placed on the importance of education especially in the transformation of church leadership. Throughout the ages, we find that Christians have debated on whether or not Theology Education is important to the church leadership with the belief that the role of the church leaders is to communicate the Good News of Christ and to call men and women to repentance and faith. However, it is key to note that the Church has a critical leadership role as the core institution of so many communities across the world. Therefore, it is important for church leaders to be trained on good leadership as servants of Christ.

Theological education by extension (TEE) is defined as a method of doing or learning theology without necessarily leaving one’s daily work. This method of learning is equated to distance learning. It does not require one to live in a residential institution in order to learn, you can be a student wherever you are and at your preferred time and pace. TEE ensures that all; classes are student centred, academic levels are represented, people are reached, needs are considered and a departure from a tradition where not only “fulltime” ministry candidates are trained but all those who in one way or another serve the church is realized. Since the inception of TEE by Organisation of African Independent Churches (OAIC) in Kenya in 1982, the program has played a vital role in the clarification and connection of AICs principles with other theologians.

Most Rev. Njooni Marete- Archbishop of National Independent Church of Africa(NICA)

Today, OAIC acknowledges the great educational impact made by Theology Education by Extension (TEE) program in the transformation of church leaders within African Instituted Churches (AICs). Most Rev Njooni Marete, the archbishop of National Independent Church of Africa (NICA) has personally taken the lead by undertaking the transformational leadership program; Theology Education by Extension(TEE). The archbishop attended TEE between 1983-1987. The completion of TEE led him being sponsored by NCCK to study Advanced Diploma and church leadership in Britain’s Birmingham University. From 1999 -2003 Most Rev Marete took his Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Kenya Methodist University. He then studied applied Theology and environmental studies at Daystar University, Kenya.

The TEE program has greatly transformed Archbishop Marete’s way of leadership and management within the National Independent Church of Africa(NICA). Currently, the church has established a car wash, learning institution, and Community Mobilisation Process that has impacted the community socially and economically. Moreover, his experience and success has motivated leaders within NICA to go through Theological education. Some of the key skills that Most Rev. Njooni Marete acquired during the TEE program include; pastoral care, ways to reconcile broken families, how to manage church resources, and servant leadership. The TEE program has enabled him to develop church programs that have resulted in the church and the surrounding local community to be self- reliant, a skill that is very important in the transformation of the society.

According to a statement by Archbishop Marete, “Today, all my four Bishops have Theological degrees from St Paul’s University, Pan African UNIVERSITY, and Kenya Methodist University while three others are studying at the African Brotherhood University. One assistance bishop has registered for a PHD at Kenyatta University. A total of 11priests, Bishops included are holders of Theological Degrees. 80 other serving priests are Diploma, certificate and TEE holders”.

I can proudly say that Theological studies have a tool which has equipped priests to face challenges and move the church to the current desired level”, added Most Rev. Marete. Certainly, the foundation laid by OAIC’s Theology Education by Extension program shows that AICs ministry is beyond the confines of the church. The TEE program has ensured that society lives an abundant life in the community for their children and the world.

Most Rev. Marete serving at National Independent Church of Africa (NICA)

At a time when Africa and the World is facing developmental crises, the society looks up to the church leaders to provide answers to some of the developmental changes that take place within their surroundings such as high rate of youth unemployment, poverty, climate change and food insecurity. This calls for the church leaders to have both spiritual and educational knowledge that will give them the knowledge to respond to these developmental challenges.

Church leaders have some vitally important things to say, things that both the church and society desperately need to hear. The scripture reminds us that as the leader of the flock, the pastor, is responsible for casting a vision for the church. Church leaders “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you.” I Pet.3:15. Theology also played a role in assisting preachers and teachers in the exposition and teaching of Scripture, (I Tim.4:13: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching”). The scriptures remind church leaders to get familiar with the teachings so that they can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

The history of AIC records that the church was founded in an African context aimed at expressing Christianity from an African perspective. AICs rejected the western churches ideology in order to embrace Christianity with belonging, that is within their context and understanding. This resulted in discrimination by the other theologians. In terms of leadership, anyone who was well versed in the mastery of traditional stories was qualified for leadership and preaching. However, the expansion of AICs across Africa and the world called for a new approach that resulted in the formation and implementation of the TEE program. The AICs can now articulate their own theology, inform the mind of AIC leaders, guide behaviour of ministry and ultimately shape the changing nature and direction of African Independent Churches.

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