The Development and Implementation of a Contextualized Southern Sudanese Model of Church

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The first missionaries arrived in southern Sudan around the middle of the nineteenth century, bringing with them a Western model of church. That same model of church is evident all across southern Sudan today. While contextualization has occurred in parts, there is no fully contextualized southern Sudanese model of church. This has severely impeded the growth and impact of the church in southern Sudan. This hypothesis is birthed out of experience both as a missionary in a mud hut in southern Sudan and as Executive Director of Aid Sudan, a non-profit missionary organization ministering to the southern Sudanese people.

In Part 1, I examine the background to the development of a contextualized model of church. This first involves a study of southern Sudan's historical and cultural context and the traditional church model. I next evaluate contextualization principles and contextualized church models in other sub-Saharan African nations. From those models, I draw out four core pillars around which to build a contextualized model for southern Sudan: the building, the style of service, the church administration, and spiritual power.

Part 2 covers a review of pertinent literature. After examining the traditional church model in the light of the four pillars, I evaluate each of the four pillars at length.

In Part 3, I evaluate field research, covering field research methodology and findings from the research. Research was conducted in three focus groups, all representing different denominations among various significant tribes. I also draw off of my own experience from years in southern Sudan.

In Part 4, I consider a resulting proposal. I cover the development of a contextualized model, incorporating the four pillars, and the implementation of that model, considering implications for international and indigenous missionaries and their organizations.

I close with a conclusion that suggests an idealized future state for the church in southern Sudan, along with final considerations of contextualized approaches. I then examine implications for Aid Sudan's ministry and offer recommendations for future study. I end with final reflections and a call to prayer for all who love the southern Sudanese people.

Mentors: Charles H. Kraft and Elizabeth L. Glanville

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Kraft, Charles H.

Document Type





Aid Sudan, Christianity and culture, Protestant churches, Liturgical adaptation, South Sudan


Missions and World Christianity


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