Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Return from Kenya

Gabriel--one of the Expository Preaching student preachers
A typical Nairobi street scene

Dr. Frank Cummings leading a Biblical Counseling workshop
On Sept. 9 I returned from almost 4 weeks in Kenya. The trip featured a lot of variety: Expository Preaching TOTs; Biblical Counseling TOTs; Biblical Stewardship conference; and 1 Timothy TOT. Further, except for the last 3 days, the weather was quite cold and wet--colder, in fact, than it was in Wisconsin! That was a surprise.

The Expository Preaching and Biblical Counseling TOTs were the most eye-opening. This summer I was introduced to Dr. Lori Carrell, a Professor of Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Dr. Carrell also works for the Center for Excellence in Congregational Leadership at the Green Lake conference center. Her particular interest is sermons, concerning which she has researched and written extensively. Her survey data indicates that average sermon preparation time generally is in the 12-13 hour range. In Kenya, however, the pastors indicated that they spend only about 1-3 hours on sermon preparation. I also discovered that most of the pastors had never really done much in-depth analysis of biblical passages. In the Expository Preaching TOTs we spent most of our time analyzing both OT and NT passages (generally ranging from 6-10 verses), so as to be able to preach them. At the conclusion of the 2nd TOT, one of the pastors remarked that, when the TOT began he couldn't understand how anyone could spend 15 hours or so preparing a sermon. However, he said that now he understands, and he now sees the importance of good analysis of a passage and preparation. I also learned that, to be most effective, I should eliminate the general Expository Preaching conferences, and turn the TOTs into 5-days instead of 3. I would also like to return to the same participants next year to build on what we learned this year.

The Biblical Counseling TOTs were similarly eye-opening. My friend, psychologist and counselor Dr. Frank Cummings, made his 2nd trip to Africa. He expertly led the 2 Counseling TOTs, and was well-received and liked by the participants. In fact, he will be traveling to Uganda next month to lead another Biblical Couneling TOT in Lira, Uganda with our Uganda national director, Martin Odi.

We learned that, although many of the pastors had been doing "counseling" for many years, most of the counseling really amounted simply to advice-giving. As with the Expository Preaching TOTs, the Biblical Counseling TOTs were very "hand-on" affairs. Most of the participants' time was spent doing simulated counseling, either as counselor, client, or critiquing observer. The workshop manual that Dr. Cummings and I prepared was very well received. One participant indicated that he learned far more from the experience than he had learned from an expensive counseling course he had taken some years earlier. Again, as with the Expository Preaching, Dr. Cummings and I both agreed that turning the counseling TOT into 4 or 5 days, and returning to work with the same participants and build on what was done this time, would be most effective. We also saw certain revisions that would be helpful in the order and contents of the workshop manual, which Dr. Cummings is now making.

All in all, this was a productive trip, in which we as well as the participants learned a lot. By God's grace, that will lead to more effective and fruitful work in the future. Much remains to be done in all of these areas, but a solid foundation is being laid. Thank you for your prayers and support. They make this all possible. God bless you.

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