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Leadership by nature gives direction and influences decisions. The Bible is full of examples of people who seemed ‘unsuitable’ and yet were used in significant ways by God to bring about his purposes in the world. God uses weak and inadequate people who become great tools for his purpose and will.
From the early days of African Enterprise Michael Cassidy focused on Christian leadership as a means of enhancing the role of the Church in African cities. He invested in encouraging Christians to become agents for change and transformation in their workplace, particularly those who were decision makers in influential positions in society.
When Michael was founding African Enterprise he embarked on a three-month tour of African cities interviewing presidents, prime ministers and influential business leaders as a way of establishing the potential for the vision. This showed him the critical need for the Kingdom of God to interact well with the kingdoms of this world. The idea that leadership needs to be used in service of the Kingdom of God gave rise to many conferences and initiatives that sought to use this leadership gift for God.
African Enterprise has sought to foster partnerships between business people in various cities of Africa. City missions in the heart of a city were aimed at reaching the business community, gathering people at breakfasts and lunches and conducting interviews that advanced the Gospel by meeting spiritual or material needs.
Early on in his work Michael established a theoretical basis for the ministry to the cities of Africa which he called, A Theology of the Itinerant. He suggested that itinerant evangelists should not function in isolation from the local church. The functional relationship between the minister or pastor of a congregation and the evangelist should be that the itinerant evangelist ‘stands in’ for the local congregation’s lack of capacity. In the light of this, Michael Cassidy saw the alliance between himself and church leaders as utterly essential, with his role as one of a servant enabling evangelism to happen, and those who give their lives to Jesus (the fruit), being incorporated into churches served by the African Enterprise ministry.
Michael Cassidy intentionally refused to be ordained as a church minister, choosing to remain a layman throughout the decades of ministry. He leaned on revelation that came to him from the Scriptures and guidance from spiritual authorities and scholars. He also saw that remaining a lay person would give him more freedom to follow personal dreams and openings for ministry. Michael understood the need for a balanced view of church and para-church structures and largely authored the Lausanne Occasional Paper LOP 24: Cooperating in World Evangelization: A Handbook on Church/Para-Church Relationships. www.Lausanne.org. See also Booklet in preparation by Dr John Tooke on “The Case for Lay Apostolicity”.
In the wake of decolonisation many countries in the South and East were left with young churches with limited leadership. A lot of this arose from the idea that autonomous churches in countries should be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating. Many years later these challenges remain and the identity of the Church is still associated with pre- and post-colonial governance issues. In many places in Africa political institutions are failing. The adoption of humanist philosophies has also produced, in many instances, moral collapse and an erosion of a Christian world view. The reassertion of an African worldview has also not yet born a positive social fruit. Michael Cassidy believes a strategy is necessary to revitalise the church and society with a new focus on emerging leaders. The goal is that the emerging leaders can be brought into association to create a new ‘Reformation’ and the reiteration of Christian essentials.
In the matter of politics, the Scriptures express two perspectives. One is more hopeful than the other. The first, derived from Romans 13, declares that human governance needs to be met with cooperation and obedience because it is provided by God for the good of humankind. In Revelation 13, however, human governance is depicted as a beast from the sea and an enemy of the Church. In seeking to live with these contrasting perspectives the Church has many options of cooperation or resistance. One option, proposed by David Bosch at the PACLA conference, was to see the church as the alternative community. This means that the quality of its life and witness sets a precedent for what society should be. The struggle to influence and guide Christian leaders was expressed extensively through the many conferences organised by African Enterprise and other agencies.
Several years ago three well-known Christian leaders, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission and the philosopher Francis Schaeffer arrived at a similar understanding that society was made up of seven spheres or pillars. These were: Arts and Entertainment; Business; Education; Family; Government; Media; and Religion. The Christian mission could certainly be helped by this understanding in terms of planning outreaches and prophetic strategy. Although this scheme might have limitations, in that it is based largely on an analysis of Western society, it does signify that society at large has different components and that each sphere can be an arena for the proclamation and witness of the Gospel.
Finding and supporting Christians who can be encouraged, taught and supported in their ‘mission’ to these realms is an important aspect of the Michael Cassidy strategy. The stratified evangelism approach, adopted by African Enterprise in its city missions, has produced a methodology that defines different strata in a city with a focused outreach on each.
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