What does it mean to develop? We often take the term as a given. In business, we hire sales people to develop new business. In education, we think about childhood development. In poorer nations, we consider developing them.
Using a critical eye, is development the be-all-end all of our life purpose. Have we lived a successful life if we leave the world “more developed” than we left it?
Honestly, the term development needs some nuancing. What counts as development for some, might not mean much for others. Does development connect to an economic query? Do we count more money in one’s pocket as development, regardless of the rate of inflation within the larger system?
Does development connect to some form of enlightenment? If enough people become educated and properly degreed, have we successfully developed?
Even more, what account do we make for the spiritual aspect of development? As Christians, have we successfully developed the world around us if we’ve provided a path out of poverty without sufficient instruction toward Biblical ends? Or on the other hand, have we succeeded in developing souls if we “make” Christians without addressing socio-economic issues?
Truly, speaking about development without providing detailed definition doesn’t do much. We may use the same word but we may be thinking about entirely different things.
For this reason, Darrow Miller’s Discipling Nations addresses these questions with much detail. As a basic premise, Miller argues that any discussion of development can only emerge after a foundational understanding of worldview is addressed.
At a high level, Miller presents three basic worldviews: 1. Biblical theism, 2. Secularism, and 3. Animism.
Successful development varies greatly from these 3 worldviews.
For Miller, addressing the worldview is as equally important as addressing the system as a whole. Cultures at a systemic level develop upon the weaving of individual beliefs and practices. The worldview of one person influences a family worldview, which in turn influences a community, which in turn influences the nation.
When churches practice a Biblical worldview and bring the truth of God’s word to all areas of public life, they can love their neighbors effectively at an individual level and disciple nations by discipling others.
Even though most people agree on the general idea of development as a good thing, the avenue by which development is achieved falters depending on worldview. When the church adopts and practices a Biblical worldview in public, it can practice discipleship in a way that influences the nations.