Why It Works

 You’ve probably heard us talk about several different aspects of our program – accessible theological education, community development, trauma-healing. You’ve seen updates about providing zinc roofs for South Sudanese refugees and student ministries in Uganda.

You’ve probably also wondered how in the world all these things fit together. Isn’t African Leadership a pastor training organization? If I’m giving to the development of church leaders then why am I seeing stories about water wells, primary schools, zinc roofs?

It’s because African Leadership’s strategy is different. And it works. Here’s how:

Biblical Foundation: Our belief in God is the foundation of all that we do.

Our local Country Directors create their own strategic plans each year. The first step of this is to engage with their communities – to hear about people’s concerns, needs, and dreams. Then they filter it all through a Biblical worldview – what does the Bible say about these things? What is my role as a local church leader? How can the church be the salt and the light to these people, these communities, and this country? How can I use this opportunity to show the Gospel to those who might not otherwise experience it, to those who need it most, to grow the Kingdom in my own backyard?

At the core of African Leadership is the development of church leaders. The church in Africa is growing rapidly and the number of trained church leaders can’t keep up. That’s why African Leadership’s program is based on a core, discipleship-driven theological education. And from this Biblical foundation, we have found that building the church involves more than theology. That’s why we don’t stop at offering a theological education. Local church leaders also have options through African Leadership to learn trauma-healing techniques, community development strategies, how to engage with Islam, and more.

We seek to elevate Him in every interaction. And in doing so, we work to prepare Africa’s church leaders for the range of complex issues they’ll face as the African church body – to ensure they process those issues through a Biblical perspective and identify solutions and responses through a Biblical lens.

Meaningful Impact: We focus on quality over quantity in all our processes, relationships, and outcomes.

African Leadership has been around since 2001. We’ve had a presence in over 25 countries. And we’ve graduated over 60,000 students. But those are just numbers – they don’t impress us and they shouldn’t impress you.

What we’re far more proud of is what happens after a student becomes part of that 60,000 number. Because our program is based on a discipleship-driven approach, each course is taught by a local teacher familiar with the community, able to disciple and mentor students in their home churches. And each student, as they make their way through a curriculum designed to equip them to lead spiritually, physically, and emotionally, develops into a disciple-making leader themselves, able to understand the Gospel so they can share it with others and bring it to life for those inside and outside the church.

What does this look like from an impact standpoint? Sometimes it’s a graduate that starts new Bible studies in her church; sometimes it’s a pastor planting a new church himself. Sometimes it looks like a church community building a water well as a way to reach out to a mostly-Muslim community or a pastor starting a nursery school to prepare children for primary school since their parents can’t do so after spending their own youth surrounded by war instead of in school.

If all those graduates do is put their certificate on their wall then go back to normal life, we haven’t done our job. Instead, this is the impact we aim for – local leaders who know how to lead their churches, care for those who have experienced trauma, and dream and build their communities for tomorrow. Not impact for the sake of numbers, but impact with meaning.

Creative Solutions: We value the exploration of ideas, resources, and problems to enact creative solutions in an ever-changing landscape.

I can’t take credit for our strategy being different than most other organizations – it isn’t my strategy to take credit for. African Leadership’s organizational structure isn’t built that way. You won’t find any westerners on our in-country leadership teams. You won’t find any in-country programs, plans, budgets, or timelines stemming from someone other than a local African leader.

In most cases, our work is even overseen on the ground by a local Board of Directors. The Board shepherds the Country Director as he assesses the needs of the church in their specific country each year. They work to establish their own plan of action in response – exploring which of our available programs to employ, identifying where to employ them, and executing when it’s time to employ them. They build in ways to contribute local income and resources to their plan and budget. And they get creative when problems arise or budgets come up short.

This strategy of working through local Boards who can enact specialized solutions for each individual community mirrors our commitment to ensuring the honest stewardship of your gifts, too. When you invest in the process of educating a church leader in a way that has been locally designed, vetted, and proven, you reap unimaginable dividends – not just a church leader who leads his church better on Sunday mornings, but a church leader who leads his community all week long. The result is a church leader who holds Bible studies in local prisons, a church leader who starts trauma-healing groups for children who have been orphaned by war, a church leader who opens a piggery to grow local income – a church leader who grows and strengthens the local church in creative ways unique to their surroundings and circumstances, ensuring long-term viability and ownership rather than short-term results.

We are confident in this strategy and vision, and we are so honored that you have chosen to invest yourself through the resources God has given you – your energy, your prayers, your finances – in this work to which God has called us!

Emily Blackledge
President | African Leadership

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