There Are Churches in Kenyan Slums? Yes, and They're Thriving

This update is related to the Crossway Global Ministry Fund campaign.

A Need for Pastoral Training

“I just love being in a slum. For me it seems like it was easy to make friends there, whether believers or not believers.” Ronald Kogo, a Crossway ministry partner serving pastors in the slums throughout cities and villages of Kenya, recently shared a vision and desire that likely not many of us share. Generally, if there is any way to get out of a slum, then all measures will be taken for that to happen. But instead of running away from the slums, Ronald and his family run toward the slums. And they come bringing the good news of the gospel, a treasure that has been seen to transform the lives of pastors in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums.1

For all the practical problems that the slums and surrounding villages face—violence, lack of clean water and sanitation, job insecurity, and more—Ronald and his family have found an even deeper desire among these people for the truth, to know that there is something greater than this world that they are living for. From experience, Ronald knows that “the gospel is thriving in Africa. But it’s not thriving the most in cities and in big, massive, wealthy churches necessarily, but in poor, small churches. . . . And these churches are often in the slums. They’re faithful to bring the gospel there.”

But, Ronald explains, there is a big problem among these pastors who are bringing the gospel into the slums, because “these pastors have zero training.” This is where Crossway’s Global Ministry comes alongside and supports Ronald’s ministry to these pastors.

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Understanding the Problem

Ronald has worked with pastors throughout Kenya and surrounding countries for many years, where he learned that throwing complicated theological topics and big, doctrinal words at these pastors isn’t helpful.

If you try to teach them university-level material, that’s too much for their minds. We’ve tried all kinds of high-level training, but they don’t understand what you’re talking about. So it’s in those moments that I’ve said, “let’s open the Bible and walk through the text together. Forget about principles and stuff like that.” A guy who has been serving for 30 years, who is almost 60 years old, won’t comprehend well when you try to teach large, new concepts. They just need simple concepts. This is how we work through our text. So you just have to bring the gospel to them and train them in simple ways and allow them to serve Jesus.

Though most of these pastors are spiritually immature, their love for the Lord has not waned. “The challenge with these men is not that they don’t love Jesus, because it’s clear that they outwardly love Jesus,” Ronald said, “but the circumstances they are in are difficult and going to a university anywhere in Africa is difficult. Economically, no one can afford them.” For Ronald, the challenge was to find a way to bring some kind of training to these pastors at an affordable cost and at a level they would understand.

A Solution to the Problem

Throughout Ronald’s years of service, he has served in a variety of slums and villages throughout Kenya and in surrounding countries. But wherever the Lord leads him he continues to provide training to pastors in need through teaching cohorts. Men who have never been able to receive theological training and are too far past the point of going back to university education now are the perfect candidates for this cohort.

Composed of a group of pastors he met in a variety of contexts, participants in this two-year cohort desire to faithfully preach the gospel and serve in their contexts, but they lack the education and training needed to effectively do so. Because they’re scattered throughout various provinces, Ronald has found it most effective to meet via Zoom monthly to discuss that month’s assigned reading.

Every month they have to read a book, and then they write a report about the book. The books are sent out electronically, but one of the challenges is that if they don’t have computers they have to read on their phone. They struggle to get to the meetings too because of access to the Internet. Sometimes you are in the midst of a meeting, someone loses signal and isn’t able to rejoin again for the meeting that month.

But these roadblocks have yet to stop Ronald’s ministry. The meetings still go on, and he trusts that the Lord will make a way for these pastors to learn what they need for their ministry work. Many of the books Ronald uses in his cohort meetings are from the Building Healthy Churches Set. Written to support pastors and ministry leaders as they lead healthy churches, cohort members are challenged to think about topics like church discipline, church membership, and biblical theology, among others. Ronald’s goal is “to give them a grounding in the gospel, because a lot of these guys can’t even share the gospel. A lot of them don’t know the answers to simple questions like, What is evangelism? What is the gospel? Who is Jesus?”

Through Crossway’s Global Ministry Fund, donors have provided for projects like these, supporting the church where we might least expect, but where training and resources are needed most. By God’s grace, the availability of these resources means that pastors are equipped to lead their churches well, resulting in healthy church growth. We rejoice in this opportunity to equip brothers in Christ like Ronald, and to partner alongside donors to Crossway as we together proclaim the gospel around the world. Would you consider joining us today in this effort to equip the global church?


  1. Jason Overdorf, “8 Cities with the World’s Largest Slums,” U.S. News & World Report, September 4, 2019,
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