Resourcing the local church: attitudes among Mozambican evangelicals towards economic dependency and self-reliance
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date10/07/2023
Reeve, Richard John
Debates concerning how churches in the developing world are best resourced in terms of their funding base and the implications of this for other aspects of church life have been conducted for over 150 years. The solutions offered have ranged from the Three-Self theory, with its advocacy of local self-support, to wholesale financial support from abroad, and in between a combination of those methods in a variety of configurations. This thesis focuses on the recent experiences of evangelical Christians in a southern Mozambican context, paying particular attention to three case studies: the Igreja Evangelica Arca da Salvação; the Ministério Centro de Louvor; and the Igreja Reformada em Moçambique. It asks why so many churches in Mozambique are seemingly locked into a dynamic of economic dependency on donors from abroad, but also why it is that in that shared and impoverished national context some churches are attempting, with some success, to resource their own activities. Using accounts and reflections obtained first-hand from Mozambican Christians, the thesis suggests that, alongside important factors such as the historical circumstances surrounding the emergence of each church group or denomination, the vision and agency of leaders in each local congregation are also fundamental to the resourcefulness of the members and the developmental trajectory of the church. In the context of self-governance, the role of such leadership is highlighted as crucial to the emergence of both self-funding and self-propagation. As well as contributing to the debate concerning the resourcing of churches in the developing world, this thesis addresses social theory that is concerned with how and why individuals invest their available resources in the religious communities of which they are part. It also contributes to the study of independent churches in southern Africa, concerning their potency for independent economic development. Finally, this thesis argues that, for the purposes of avoiding the cultivation of unhealthy dependency in national churches, international mission societies and para-church organizations in developed nations would do well to analyse the dynamics of which they are part. Where partnerships consist largely of sponsorship, it is argued, the risk of ongoing unhealthy dependency is high.