The pastor of one of Africa’s fastest-growing churches has acted quickly in an effort to stem the tide of recent charges that he is leading his church away from Trinitarian doctrine.
Ivory Coast’s Eglise Protestante Baptiste Oeuvres et Mission (Protestant Works and Mission Church) has drawn considerable attention worldwide for an aggressive program of evangelism and house-church cell groups, which has generated overwhelming growth, from 50 to some 30,000 members, since 1975.
Hailed by many U.S. evangelicals as a “classic example” of house-church growth methods, the former Southern Baptist congregation has come under scrutiny for some of the teachings of its pastor, Dion Robert. Some missionaries and American pastors now say the influential church has been swept away by the pull of tremendous expansion, which overshadowed doctrinal flaws derived from Jehovah’s Witnesses literature. At least five of some 60 pastors in the Yopougon congregation have left the church citing Dion’s alleged doctrinal “evolution.” Tokunboh Adeyemo, general secretary of the Kenyan-based Association of Evangelicals of Africa and Madagascar, says there appears to be a pattern of such doctrinal shifts on the part of indigenous churches, sometimes due to lack of adequate pastoral training.
But two American pastors and former missionaries, who claim close affiliation with Dion, say he has been grossly misunderstood and even attacked by some indigenous and American missionaries jealous of his success. Dion created his massive house church from two tin-roofed shacks in a slum. “They have been waiting for something to skin the hide off Dion,” says Ralph Neighbour, a well-known author of books about cell churches, including Where Do We Go from Here? The book ...1
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