The Church in Tanzania: "Faith Based Organizations" or "Church of Jesus Christ"? A dogmatic study
Chisaye, G. R.
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The church in Tanzania has been involved in providing both spiritual and physical needs to the people, and this then is to fulfill its calling in society. But it has been revealed that too much engagement of the church in community, social development and income-generating projects had created the assumption with the people within and outside the church, that a church is a business venture and a service-focused Faith-Based Organization (FBO). An example is, for instance, the Pogoro tribe in the southern part of Tanzania, who sees the church as an institution. This concept came about during the missionary era, when Mission Centres functioned as banks, post offices, medical dispensaries, markets and employers. However, in most cases, this is still happening even today in most churches in Tanzania (Green 1995:28). The church of Tanzania throughout its history has revealed that apart from preaching the gospel, the church also partners with the State in providing social services. Leurs et al., 2011 states that, the churches supported the government‟s development objectives. Even today the government continues to depend on faith-based institutions, especially the contribution of the churches to social services, specifically in education and health (Leurs et al., 2011:2). Moreover, apart from providing health, education and other social services in the community, the church in Tanzania has been engaged in establishing and developing income-generating projects. This was more evident recently after the departure of western missionaries and the withdrawal of funding from western and other developing countries. Therefore, the church is functioning as a mission and at the same time as a business venture. The church is no longer prioritizing evangelism for it has to do all it can in order to cover its annual budget and to meet the needs of the community that it serves (Leurs et al 2011:2, Augustine 2013:1). This research explored the engagement in community, social development and income-generating projects of the three oldest denominations throughout their history in Tanzania. These denominations are the Catholic Church, Lutheran Church and Anglican Church who since 19th century and recently have been very involved in the community with social development and in income-generating activities. It also determined the perceptions of the people in regard to the church engagement in development activities; then it examined and set out the essence, attributes, nature, function and governmental structure of the church from a biblical and theological point of view. The following example is used: scripture clearly describes the foundation of the church as seen in Mathew 16:18 where Christ undertook/commissioned the founding of the church; the uniqueness of this church is that it is a deity-founded entity which is different from that of any other secular organizations, even though it is socially constructed, but it stands as a divine institution. The church also was given a task in Matthew 28:16-20, where Jesus Christ instructed His disciples to go and preach the gospel to all the nations of the earth. Furthermore, Apostle Paul in his writings describes the church as the body of Christ in Eph. 1:22-23; and in 1 Cor. 12:27 and Col. 1:18 he indicates that Christ is the head of the church (Grenz 2000:467). Therefore, from a biblical and theological point of view it argues that, the functioning and perception of the church in Tanzania should focus more on being a church in the scriptural sense, than being a Faith-Based Organization or a service-focused entity.
- Theology