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November 27, 2013

Continuing Indaba – What is in a Name?

by Admin

The name Continuing Indaba can be a cause of confusion as it is an unfamiliar word to many. This short article sets out why the name was chosen and then goes on to describe its basis in Scripture and the Anglican understanding of Church as Communion.

Why the name ‘Indaba’

The name ‘Indaba’ was chosen because it signifies a move away from parliamentary processes that have been associated with conflict mitigation and mediation to processes of conflict transformation that are more in line with Pauline theology and successful models from the Hebrew Scriptures.

The term came into use in the planning of the 2008 Lambeth Conference and was adopted at the recommendation of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba as an alternative to polemical parliamentary style of debating that has no precedent in Scripture.

Parliamentary processes are effective in some contexts, but where complex and sensitive matters are considered, debates that focus on the winning of arguments often result in a side winning a vote but the matter being far from settled. This can result in the formation of groups that are defined by their opposition to other groups resulting in them questioning each other’s legitimacy to be truly Christian.

Indaba begins with different assumptions and is more likely to produce workable results. It is less likely to be a talking shop and more likely to be a place of real engagement producing resolution.

Archbishop Makgoba describes the principles of Indaba in this way:

  • Scripture speaks of us living as the Body of Christ, as one, but with many different members (1 Cor 12:12).

Indaba calls community members together to share news of developments or discuss concerns that affect the life of the community or individuals within it.

  • Scripture says that God has so arranged the body that the members may have ‘the same care for one another’ (1 Cor 12:25).

Indaba is predicated upon a strong sense of shared well-being, experienced on a reciprocal and mutually supportive basis.

  • Scripture says that when one part of the body suffers, ‘all suffer with it’ (1 Cor 12:26).

Indaba necessarily entails a degree of acknowledged interdependence, even vulnerability, towards one another.

  • Scripture says that the members of the body that are ‘weaker are indispensable’ (1 Cor 12:22).

Indaba says leaders must work for the well-being of the entire community, especially those in greatest need, and the ‘haves’ must provide for the ‘have nots.’

  • Scripture says that the less respectable should be treated with greater respect (1 Cor 12:23).

Indaba promotes an egalitarian ethos, in which everyone should be encouraged to grow into a productive and contributing member of the community.

  • Scripture says that to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor 12:7).


Indaba says debate is conducted through everyone being allowed to have their say, contributing their own perspective, so that the fullest picture can be drawn, and from it an outcome that is as consensual, and as ‘win-win’ as possible, can emerge.

  • Scripture says that, notwithstanding all this diversity, when living as God intends, there need not, there should not, be dissension (1 Cor 12:25).

Continuing Indaba is based upon an understanding of church as a community in communion with the Father through Christ and the Holy Spirit, and so in communion with one another. This ecclesiology sees the institution as an essential framework, but does not see institution as defining church. It understands the Christian faith to be a journey of following Christ as individuals in a community.

The name Continuing Indaba reflects Scriptural values and church as a communion with Christ and one another.

For more on Continuing Indaba process and terminology click here.

Read more from Indaba

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