WHAT IS A ‘NATIONAL INITIATIVE’?
It is an evangelistic partnership within the Body of Chris in a given country or nation, drawing major denominations, local Churches and Christian ministries in such a country or nation together in a multi-pronged national strategy of renewal, church growth, discipleship and missions (church planting).
Such partnership harnesses the potentials of the Church in a given country and focuses such on bringing about transformation of lives and structures within the community
The Objective of A National Initiative
It encourages the determination of the potentials, opportunities and challenges the Church has in her context of witness and promotes self-determined approaches and strategies that will make the Church to bear an effective and authentic witness to Christ in that country or nation as such cooperative, indigenous efforts model unity of the Body of Christ and demonstrate ownership of the task of evangelization of the country.
The Benefits of A National Initiative
A National Initiative also helps to determine the frame work within which the Church in a given Country decides what kind of assistance or help it will receive from the wider Body of Christ to meet her genuine needs within her own context or what potentials she has to offer to other sections of the Body where her assistance might be needed. In other words, a National Initiative helps the Church to determine what she brings to or takes from the “Global Missions Basket”.
The Expected Outcome of A National Initiative
A National Initiative can focus on a specific issue, need, challenge or threat facing the Church or the nation within which the Church exists or a specific evangelization task of the Church. In other words, a cooperative response (i.e. a national initiative) can be organized around specific evangelization task or issues, needs, challenges as identified in a given context and the potentials of the church could be mobilized and targeted on such task, issues, needs, challenges and threats in such a way that meeting such needs in the concerted way establishes a strong witness of the grace and mercies of God in the affected community bringing into existence a body of transformed people worshipping God through our Lord, Jesus Christ and impacting their communities through their continued witness of the transforming power of the gospel.
The Scope of A National Initiative
The ultimate scope of a National Initiative is the whole country. As such, it is a “whole country strategy” of ‘The Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole Man in the Whole Country’. However, it follows the concentric cycle of the Acts 1:8 commission: Jerusalem; All Judea, Samaria and Uttermost parts of the Earth. In other words, such cooperative evangelistic strategy can be organized by the Church of Christ in a given City, Region, State, Province and Nation where there is need for pioneer church-planting as well saturation church-planting efforts, extending beyond the local, cultural and national boundaries to the uttermost parts of the earth.
PRINCIPLES, PROCESSES AND PATTERNS OF THE EVOLUTION OF NATIONAL INITIATIVES
The Moses-Nehemiah Model
Some principles, processes and patterns of what we may call “National Initiatives” in our own context today can be seen from how God dealt with the issues and matters that confronted the nation and people of Israel throughout Bible records. We see these more in the example of Moses in the Deliverance and Leading of Children of Israel out of Egypt, as well as that of Nehemiah in Envisioning and Mobilizing of the People of Israel to Rebuild The Walls of Jerusalem. It is clear therefore that whenever God wants to do something very specific about His plans for a people, a nation or His Church, He starts with an individual or a group of individuals with whom He shares His plan, envisions such and infuses His passion and burden into such ones thereby enlisting them into His team for meeting such needs.
The history of the evolution of the African National Initiatives indicates similar principles, processes and patterns. The story also started usually with an individual or a team of visionary leaders, hearing from God or discerning the ‘kairos’ moments, or perceiving needs or threats facing the Church in a given country, researching more on such revelations, envisioning and creating awareness of such critical needs of the time and highlighting potentials of the Church to take advantage of such challenges and opportunities for growth and improvement.
From Moses and Nehemiah, we deduce the following principles, process and patterns of the evolution of National Initiatives which result in accomplishing the goal of National Initiatives (Nehemiah 6:15) ‘with the help of our God’ (Nehemiah 6:16).
1: Catching the Vision (Nehemiah 1)
- An individual or a few visionary leaders listening to God, reflecting and meditating on what the Lord is saying or revealing about their country especially in relation to the spiritual condition of the people as evidenced in “the broken walls” socio-political and economic conditions of the people, the breakdown of moral and spiritual values and the lack of will to change. (Nehemiah 1:3; see also Psalms 80:7-13 especially 12 & 13; Exodus 3: 1-12)
- Praying over such ministrations and imbibing the burden the Lord is sharing about the situation (Nehemiah 1: -11; see also Daniel 9:2-27).
- Desiring that the need be met, the situation should change and that one could be an instrument in meeting that need or changing the situation
- Being convinced yourself that change is possible, and believing that the task is ‘doable’ or ‘achievable’.
2: Clarifying the Vision (Habakkuk 2:2) Nehemiah 2:11-17
- Assessing the task on the spot to ascertain the extent of the task (Neh. 2:11-15)
- Stating the vision and making it clear (Nehemiah 2:17)
- Defining the task and setting a clear, definite, specific goal (Nehemiah 2:17; See also Exodus 25:1-8, especially 8 & 9)
3: Casting (Sharing) the Vision (Nehemiah 2)
- The burden inside radiating outwardly through body language communication (Nehemiah 2:1-3)
- Assessing and identifying the resource-persons and materials needed and from where to mobilize them (The King, the Governors of the King’s provinces, and the Keepers of the King’s Forest Resources -1:11; 2:4-9, The Religious Leaders, the Jewish Officials, the Nobles, the Entire People – 2:16)
- Sharing with those who can help in meeting the needs (2:3-9; 17-18; Chapter 3)
- Sharing convictions and positive dispositions to inspire hope and confidence in stakeholders and key players (2:5.8)
4: Mobilizing, recruiting and strategically deploying resource-people and materials (Nehemiah 3)
- Breaking the task into achievable bits and bites in accordance with the needed inputs, skills and specific ministries the people can offer (Nehemiah 3; see also Exodus 35:5-29)
- Specifying what is needed to be done and indicating what materials and skills are needed for the specific bits of the task (Exodus 35:5,10)
- Helping everyone to find and accept his/her own responsibility in accomplishing the task through a vertical integration of the various available and needed ministries, skills and abilities of the stake-holders (Exodus 30-35; 36:1-7)
5: Managing the process to maintain unity, common focus and minimize distractions and discouragement (Nehemiah 4) –WATCH, PRAY AND WORK
- Continuous assessment and evaluation of the task, the strategies and challenges with a view to re-strategize and creatively redeploy resources and men to focus on the goal (4;4-5; 13-23)
- Monitoring the process and critically analyzing feedbacks in order to pick-up early symptoms, indicators, warnings and signals of disaffection, discouragement, and disillusionment that will undermine the unity of purpose and common vision
- Being aware/conscious of possible opposition from vested interests and beneficiaries of the status-quo (2:10; 19; 4:1-3; 5:1-5; 6:17-19)
- Being aware that people naturally resist change at the initial stage of the process and that having been engrossed in the quagmire for a long time, fatalism and pessimism set in and the people accept the situation as normal and permanent condition (4:10,12).
- The need not to be distracted or grounded by the initial unwillingness or reluctance on the part of LEADERS to come on board (Neh. 2:12,16; 3:5b) working patiently to convince them while carrying on with the work until they are convinced or convicted to take up their role (Neh. 3:1)
- Decisive handling of neo-colonialism; modeling integrity and servant-leadership, empowering the people to become economically free (Nehemiah 5)
- Under-girding every stage of the evolution with prayer, wisdom, rare faith and conviction
- Burden caught in prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11)
- Favour from the King and guidance in making request (1:11; 2:4)
- Positive confession to counter negative insinuations (2:20)
- Against ridicule and conspiracies (4:1-3, 7-8; see 4-5; 9; 6:9; 14)
- Wise and diplomatic responses and handling of booby-traps (6:6-13)
DEVELOPING A NATIONAL INITIATIVE
Stage 1: VISION CASTING AND COMMENCEMENT OF A NATIONAL INITIATIVE
- Vision Caught and shared by a few visionary leaders
- Facilitating/Steering Task force/team formed by such visionary leaders
- Pilot Research done and shared locally to stimulate wider interest
- Commitment to Region/State/Province/Nation-wide “assessment of the harvest field-harvest force” secured from wider group of stake holders, spreading the sphere of ownership of the vision and enlarging the initial Taskforce Team
- Region/State/Province/Nation-wide assessment task commenced and facilitated by the wider “Enlarged” Task Force Team; set target time for completion, analysis and compilation of data
- Convene a meeting of Stake-holders/Key Leaders to share preliminary results of the region/state/province/nation-wide assessment
- Plan and convene a major consultation of a wider representation of the church in that Region/State/Province/Nation at which the full report is shared
- Region/State/Province/Nation-wide goal with time frame is set and individual ministries, local churches, denominations adopt aspects of the goal they are to accomplish.
Stage 2: MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF ON-GOING INITIATIVES
- Achievement parameters are determined
- A feedback/reporting mechanism is put in place
- A clearing house system is in place to integrate new adoptions and interventions into the ongoing process in order to avoid over concentration of resources and efforts in certain areas to the disadvantage of other needy areas
- Interests and offers/interventions from outside are sifted, guided and channeled in the light of how such offers and inputs will meet pertinent needs, and be relevant to the situation on ground such that they will strengthen ongoing process and reinforce local initiatives instead of undermining such.
- Conducting specialized seminars, workshops, mini-consultations to address challenges, highlight insights and share effective approaches that will aid the local churches, denominations, ministries and other stake-holders in carrying on with their programmes and projects related to their adopted targets.
- Convening a Mid-Term Region/State/Province/Nation-wide consultation to assess the progress or otherwise of the process and re-enforce the process to ensure it is on course.
Stage 3: COMPLETION AND CELEBRATION OF THE PROCESS
- The Facilitating Task force team begins to compile, analyze and publish the reports and feedbacks a year to the end of the target time
- Convene a Stake-holders/Key Leaders Forum six months before the end of the target time (i.e. the National Initiative Term) to review the report and plan for the end of NI Term Consultation
- Convene the End of NI Term Consultation and share what the Lord has accomplished through His Church during the NI Term.
- Re-launch the NI if necessary and agreed upon by the Stake-holders
Continental Coordinator; Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI)
Reuben.firstname.lastname@example.org; CC@mani.com ; +234 803 322 4844