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About

Below you’ll find information on:

About Us     •     Mission & Objectives     •     Rationale & Methodology     •     Delivery System

Our Team     •     Collaboration

Christianity would not have its present vitality in the Two-Thirds World without the intellectual understandings that developed in Africa between 50 and 500C.E. The pretense of studying Church History while ignoring African church history is implausible. Yet this assumption has been common in the last five centuries in a way that would have seemed odd during the first five centuries, when the African mind was highly honored and emulated.”

Thomas C. Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind

VSM Africa, Iconic Image
VSM Africa, Iconic Image

Christianity would not have its present vitality in the Two-Thirds World without the intellectual understandings that developed in Africa between 50 and 500C.E. The pretense of studying Church History while ignoring African church history is implausible. Yet this assumption has been common in the last five centuries in a way that would have seemed odd during the first five centuries, when the African mind was highly honored and emulated.”

Thomas C. Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind

About Us Who We Are

Vineyard School of Ministry Africa (VSM Africa) began as an effort of the Association of Vineyard Churches, Kenya (AVC Kenya). AVC Kenya is an evangelical, church planting movement with roots in the Association of Vineyard Churches, USA.

John Wimber, former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, and pastor, began the Vineyard Movement in the late 1970s (www.vineyardusa.org). The Vineyard movement now has over 700 churches in American plus over 700 worldwide.

Currently based in Nairobi, VSM Africa is a program: not an institution. It is a curriculum developed by Africans and for Africans.

Noah

VSM Africa was pioneered at the request of the National Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC) Kenya (Rev Noah Gitau) by Doug Brown in 2011. Rev Brown worked with numerous stakeholders to develop an accredited diploma curriculum to provide training for Christian leaders and pastors within AVC Kenya. This curriculum prioritized contextual African theology and biblical studies and became sought after by Christian leaders across East Africa to train and equip them to be missional leaders within their own contexts.

Our commitment is to empower and equip diverse Christian leaders within Africa to find their own voice through the exploration of Scripture, understanding their past heritage, and engagement with their current culture and context. VSM desires to raise up leaders who will proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom of God as God’s missional agents throughout Africa and beyond.

Mission & Objectives What We Do

Our Mission

Equipping Christian leaders to proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom of God for the transformation of our churches, communities, and the world.

Our Objectives

  1. To produce Christian leaders who proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom of God as Jesus Christ did.
  2. To equip Christian leaders to be God’s missional agents, bringing the authentic, holistic Gospel to their communities and the world.
  3. To empower Christian leaders to bring the transforming power of the Gospel through socio-economic empowerment, social justice and advocacy.
  4. To equip Christian leaders to innovatively minster to a world marked by ecumenicism and globalization.
  5. To form in Christian leaders the character of Christ expressed in their marriages, families and ministry.
  6. To prepare Christian servant leaders to develop Christ-centered relationships that exhibit unity within diversity.
  7. To equip Christian leaders who transform both cultural and community through kingdom ethics.

Rationale & Methodology Why We Do What We Do

African Christian theology, thus far, has focused on theological anthropology or ethnography – particularly exploring the theological perspectives of African communities in response to Western influences. Consequently, the brand of theological education provided in Africa is primarily deductive. The deductive method in theology treats the classical doctrines of the church in such a way as to give them a universal relevance, even though they were formulated to solve very particular problems in specific historical circumstances. The inductive method in theology articulates the encounter of God with individuals and communities in particular localities and cultural situations.

The inductive method articulates theology from the perspective of the believers or respondents, whereas the deductive method portrays the perspective of the classical doctrines of the church – the institution.”

(John Mugambi, Christian Theology and Social Reconstruction)

Furthermore, Western theology has been imported onto the continent with little attempt at collaboration with the recipients. As Kwame Bediako trenchantly remarks:

… these forms of theological training in themselves constitute a crisis for Africa, in that they appear not to connect with the redeeming, transforming activity of the Living God in the African setting, and so are ineffectual in equipping God’s people for mission and for the transformation of African society”. (Kwame Bediako, ‘The African Renaissance and Theological Reconstruction: the Challenge of the Twenty-first Century’, Journal of African Christian Thought Vol. 4/2 (December 2001), p. 29.)

We must dismiss the fallacy that Western theology is a universal theology. Additionally, since “methods are the framework for collaborative creativity” (Bernard Lonegran, Method in Theology), it is critical that we examine our methods. African Christian theology may be more multi-disciplinary in its methods than the West. Western theological hermeneutics introduced into Africa deductively, do not properly take into account, not only its Greek/Latin origins, but ignores the interpretive dynamics of African culture which is closer to Biblical culture than that of the West. African Christians can rise above reactive theologizing (to colonial Western influences) via a proactive, creative theological methodology that can serve to bring greater self-definition to the African Vineyard churches.

This rationale suggests an innovative methodology which includes several considerations. Firstly, the gospel originates out of a particular culture and is then communicated within a particular culture. The future of theological education in Africa must include an appropriation of cultural and religious traditions birthed on the soil of Africa. This theological enculturation must be exercised with hermeneutical tools which accommodate the context.

Secondly, consideration of the contemporary context is critical. An “African” theological curriculum should also include some basic knowledge and skills in social, economic, and political analysis and transformation. The argument for such a multi-disciplinary approach to theological education has many rationales not the least of which is the need to keep informed on the growing Islamic influence on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Thirdly, Vineyard theological distinctives must be preserved. We are committed to the theology and practice of the Kingdom of God. Vineyard theology and ministry practice is culturally adaptable and can be implemented without requiring those of other cultures to adopt Western motifs and ministry styles.

Fourthly, this opportunity is particularly salient in regards to Biblical interpretation as this discipline is integral to all subsequent theological education. The recommendation is for an inductive, contextual approach to interpretation. This approach can be described as consisting of four commitments. The first commitment is to Biblical interpretation which begins in the context and lived reality of the average African who must be empowered and equipped to ask interpretive questions. The second commitment is for Biblical interpretation to take place in community. The third commitment is to interpret the Bible inductively and critically. This means that interpretation begins in the local context and asks structured and systematic questions of the Bible. The fourth commitment is to a Biblical interpretation which leads to personal and social transformation. These four commitments need to be expressed through specific methodologies.

How then would African Biblical interpretation impact African theological methodology and how would this be different from the classical Western approach?

Inductive

In African Biblical hermeneutics the Biblical text should be approached from a perspective where African comparative material is the major dialogue partner and traditional exegetical methodology is subordinated to this perspective. This will invariably impact the ensuing theological perspective.

Contextual

It is essential for all peoples to find their identity in the pages of Scripture. For Africa, other dominant cultures have often superimposed their identity onto Africans through Biblical interpretation and subsequent theologizing. It is critical that Africans conduct their theological education from the framework of their own cultural expressions and identity.

Communal

The communal ethos of African society makes it much easier to implement a collaborative learning approach. Collaborative learning can enhance the educational process by challenging any conceptual framework that is not Biblical. These conceptual frameworks are often unspoken or even unconscious grids by which we understand our world and these are often times discovered or challenged through constructive dialogue.

Praxis-oriented

Orthodoxy and orthopraxy must be co-mingled. Our theology must have feet. Instances of contemporary socio-economic injustices and political inequalities can be compared with similar scenarios in the Scriptures. Responses to these injustices can also be found in the Bible providing guidelines for us today. In this educational model there is no separation between Systematic and Practical Theology.

Delivery System How We Operate

The average student is a Christian leader or pastor who is hard pressed to leave their place of employment and church responsibilities for extended periods of time. VSM Africa has accordingly structured its two-year Diploma in Christian Ministry (full time, although also offered part time) across three semesters via a “Theological Education by Extension” (TEE) methodology. Four classes are taken per semester if enrolled full time, with around half of each class’s coursework offered via readings and assignments for the student to complete wherever they are, online via Google Classroom.

The remaining half of each class’s coursework is completed through attendance at an intensive learning module toward the end of each semester. In Kenya, these are typically offered during the holiday times – April, August and December. These are two-week intensives in which the four courses for that semester are offered. Currently, these intensives are offered in Nairobi, with plans to roll out the diploma courses in Arusha and Uganda.

Our Team Instructors, Board & Officers

Instructors

Joseph Musyoki (Kenya)
Noah Gitau (Kenya)
Jerita Kweng’e Mayaka (Kenya)
John Fischer, PhD (South Africa)
SImon Thiong’o, DMin (Kenya)
Andrew Steere, MDiv (Australia)
Jeremy Cook, MDiv (USA)
Mary Gitau, MA (Kenya)

Board

Andrew Steere (Australia)
Simon Thiong’o (Kenya)
Noah Gitau (Kenya)
Adrian Palmer (UK)

Officers

Registrar—Mary Gitau
Principal—Simon Thiong’o
Academic Dean—Andrew Steere

Collaboration Daystar University

Vineyard School of Ministry Africa (VSM Africa) partners with Daystar University, Nairobi, to offer its Certificate and Diploma Courses. Daystar University is one of the largest Christian liberal arts universities in Africa and is committed to offering Christian education to the church and the world.

VSM Africa and Daystar collaborate in…

  • setting performance standards
  • jointly monitoring and evaluating students
  • supervising and approving instructors
  • approving examinations and final grades
  • awarding Certificates and Diplomas

The Memorandum of Understanding between Daystar University and VSM Africa is for three years and can be either mutually renewed or cancelled.

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